Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

DE LA BIBLIA ABIERTA v. CITY OF CHICAGO

December 4, 1996

IRA IGLESIA DE LA BIBLIA ABIERTA, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GRADY

 Before the court is the motion of defendants City of Chicago and William Banks to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim for which relief could be granted, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated in this opinion, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 BACKGROUND

 The plaintiff's allegations, which we treat as true and view in a light most favorable to the plaintiff for the purposes of this motion, are as follows. Plaintiff Ira Iglesia de la Biblia Abierta ("Abierta") is a church incorporated as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, whose members live in Chicago and surrounding suburbs and are predominantly of Hispanic origin. The defendant City of Chicago is a municipal corporation which enforces a zoning ordinance enacted in 1957 that governs the use of every property within the City. Defendant William Banks is the alderman of the 36th Ward of the City of Chicago, and at relevant times was the chairman of the Committee on Zoning of the Chicago City Council.

 On June 20, 1994, Abierta entered into a contract with Ronald and Margo Sersen for the purchase of real property located at 6466 West North Avenue, Chicago ("6466 West North"). The 6466 West North property consists of a lot with dimensions of 25 feet by 179 feet on which is situated a one-story stone face building approximately 1,600 square feet in area. Abierta contracted to purchase the property for use as a place of assembly for worship, religious instruction, prayer meetings, church dinners, youth activities, administration and religious ceremonies, including baptisms, weddings and funerals.

 As of June 1994, 6466 West North was zoned B4-1 under Title 17 of the Municipal Code of Chicago ("Chicago Zoning Ordinance"). A B4-1 designation allows use by churches, subject to obtaining a special use permit from the City's Zoning Board of Appeals ("ZBA"). Abierta's contract to purchase 6466 West North was contingent upon the congregation obtaining a special use permit to use the property as a church. Shortly after entering into the contract to purchase 6466 West North, Abierta filed an application with the ZBA for a special use permit to use the property as a church facility with a capacity of 48 persons. On or about July 22, 1994, the ZBA scheduled a hearing on Abierta's special use permit for August 19, 1994.

 The plaintiff alleges that Banks knew when he introduced the rezoning ordinance that Abierta had a pending contract to purchase 6466 West North. The plaintiff also alleges that Banks knew the effect of rezoning the property to M1-2 was that Abierta could no longer acquire it for use as a church.

 On August 18, 1994, Banks and the other aldermen on the city council Committee on Zoning voted to recommend the approval of the rezoning ordinance to change 6466 West North from B4-1 to M1-2. The next day, August 19, 1994, the ZBA continued its hearing on Abierta's special use application to September 15, 1994. On September 15, 1994, the City Council voted to enact the rezoning ordinance, which changed 6466 West North to a M1-2 zoning status. As a result of the ordinance, the ZBA could no longer grant Abierta the special use permit to use the parcel as a church, and the ZBA advised Abierta of this at the continued hearing on September 15, 1994. As a result of these rezoning actions, Abierta was unable to purchase the property at 6466 West North for use as a church.

 On June 13, 1996, Abierta filed this eighteen-count complaint against the defendants City of Chicago and Banks, alleging that the defendants applied the zoning laws against it in a discriminatory manner in violation of the United States and Illinois Constitutions and federal law. In Counts I and II, the plaintiff alleges that the City and Banks substantially burdened its exercise of religion in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 2000bb et. seq. In Counts III and IV, the plaintiff alleges that the City and Banks denied it equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, because the church's exercise of First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly was more restricted by the zoning ordinance than similarly situated secular groups such as clubs and community centers. In Counts V through VIII, the plaintiff alleges that the City and Banks unconstitutionally impaired its rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech under the First Amendment, as incorporated against the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. In Counts IX through XIV, the plaintiff alleges that the City and Banks infringed upon its rights to freedom of religion, speech and assembly under Article I of the Illinois Constitution. In Counts XV and XVI, the plaintiff alleges that the City and Banks denied it equal protection in the exercise of its rights of freedom of religion, assembly and speech under Article I of the Illinois Constitution. In Counts XVII and XVIII, the plaintiff alleges that the City and Banks discriminated against it in the sale of property in contravention of Article I, Section 17 of the Illinois Constitution. Plaintiff requests relief in the form of compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and costs.

 The City and Banks have moved to dismiss the complaint in its entirety on several grounds.

 DISCUSSION1

 In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court must assume the truth of all facts alleged in the complaint, construing the allegations liberally and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jones v. General Electric Co., 87 F.3d 209, 211 (7th Cir. 1996); Wilson v. Formigoni, 42 F.3d 1060, 1062 (7th Cir. 1994). Dismissal is properly granted "'if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations.'" Cushing v. City of Chicago, 3 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.