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Parvati Corporation, An Illinois Corporation v. the City of Oak Forest

March 20, 2012

PARVATI CORPORATION, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF OAK FOREST, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On December 14, 2009, Plaintiff Parvati Corporation ("Parvati") filed a five-count Fourth Amended Complaint against Defendant City of Oak Forest, Illinois ("the City" or "Oak Forest"), as well as Defendants Adam Dotson, Steve Jones, and David Newquist ("the Individual Defendants"), alleging race discrimination based on Defendants preventing the sale of Parvati's hotel to Bethlehem Enterprises, Inc. ("Bethlehem") for use as a senior living facility/extended stay hotel for the predominantly African-American members of Bethlehem Temporary Missionary Baptist Church (Counts I-II). See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982. Parvati also alleges a Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim (Count III), a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim (Count IV), and a First Amendment retaliation claim (Count V). See 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Before the Court are the Individual Defendants' and Oak Forest's motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). In response to Defendants' summary judgment motions, Parvati concedes that the Individual Defendants are entitled to summary judgment as to Counts III, IV, and V and that the City is entitled to summary judgment as to Counts III and V. Thus, the Court grants judgment for Defendants on these counts. The Court addresses the parties' arguments regarding the remaining claims in Counts I, II, and IV in the present Memorandum, Opinion, and Order. For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motions for summary judgment and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). "The Rule is designed, in part, to aid the district court, 'which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information,' in determining whether a trial is necessary." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file 'a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Also, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of additional facts that requires the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).

The purpose of Local Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) ("statement of material facts did [] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture"). Therefore, the Court will not address the parties' legal and factual arguments made in their Rule 56.1 statements and responses. See System Dev. Integration, LLC v. Computer Sciences Corp., 739 F.Supp.2d 1063, 1068 (N.D. Ill. 2010). The requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. The Court may also disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cady, 467 F.3d at 1060; Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., LLC, 401 F.3d 803, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2005). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

Parvati is an Illinois corporation and Oak Forest is a municipal corporation in the State of Illinois. (R. 394, Indiv. Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 2, 3.) Steve Jones is the former Administrator of Oak Forest, Adam Dotson is the Coordinator of the Oak Forest Community Development Department, and David Newquist is an Assistant Community Development Director for Oak Forest. (Id. ¶¶ 4-6.) Bethlehem was an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Harvey, Illinois and its shareholders included the Bethlehem Temple Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor J.C. Smith, and his son, Jeffrey Smith. (R. 417, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 15; R. 149, Fourth Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) On June 2, 2008, the Court terminated Bethlehem as a party to this lawsuit. (R. 33.)*fn1

Between May 2000 and January 2001, Parvati constructed a Ramada Inn hotel in the "Limited Manufacturing District" of Oak Forest. (Indiv. Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 7, 10; R. 437, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶¶ 6-8.) On or about November 20, 2003, Parvati, through its President, Balkrishna Patel, hired Joseph Esselman and Kevin List of Inland Real Estate Sales, Inc. to market Parvati's hotel. (R. 417, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 11.) Around that time, Esselman and List met with Robert McNeill, the Director of Oak Forest's Community Development Department, and Newquist, the Assistant Director of the Community Development Department, along with Oak Forest's Mayor and City Administrator. (Id. ¶ 12.) At the November 2003 meeting, Esselman and List explained that Patel was interested in selling the Ramada Inn for use as a senior independent living facility. (Id. ¶ 13.) In June 2004, McNeill and Newquist met with Parvati's representative and Bethlehem's representative, J.C. Smith, the pastor of Bethlehem Temporary Missionary Baptist Church, to discuss Parvati's plan to sell the property to Bethlehem. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 16.) At the June 2004 meeting, Pastor Smith explained that he wanted to use the property as a senior independent living facility. (Id. ¶ 18.)

On July 7, 2004, the Community Development Department -- the City's liaison to its Planning and Zoning Commission -- petitioned the Planning and Zoning Commission to recommend the enactment of an amendment to the zoning ordinance relating to Oak Forest's manufacturing districts. (Id. ¶ 19.) On July 21, 2004, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended to the City Council that it approve the amendment. (Id.) On August 11, 2004, the City enacted Ordinance 2836, which amended Oak Forest's 1999 zoning ordinance. (Id. ¶ 21.) Prior to August 10, 2004, Parvati's property was located within the M District, also known as the Limited Manufacturing District. (R. 437, Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.) As a result of Ordinance 2836, Parvati's property became a "legal nonconforming use" located within the new M2 Heavy Industrial District. (Indiv. Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 16.)

To clarify, the newly enacted Ordinance 2836 created separate manufacturing districts, namely, "M1" and "M2." (R. 417, Pl.'s Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 24.) The manufacturing district M1 became the "Light Manufacturing District" and M2 became the "Heavy Manufacturing District." (Id.) The permitted uses in the M1 district included component assembly, light manufacturing or warehousing, research and development, and engineering and testing activity. (Id. ¶ 27.) Section 17-34-040 of Ordinance 2836 states in pertinent part:

The M-1 Light Industrial Zoning District is hereby established in order to provide an environment conducive to less concentrated, less intense development and/or operation of light assembly, manufacturing, and/or warehousing activity, with a minimal degree of negative impact upon abutting residential and/or commercial zoning districts.

(R. 417, Pl.'s Stmt. Add'l Facts Ex. 18, at 17.) The permitted uses in the M2 district included construction, heavy manufacturing and processing, warehousing and distribution, and machinery--sales and/or services. (R. 417, Pl.'s Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 28.) Section 17-34-050 of Ordinance 2836 states in pertinent part:

The M-2 Heavy Industrial Zoning district is hereby established in order to provide an environment conducive to concentrated industrial development, commonly referred to as industrial parks, which feature a wider range of manufacturing, production, processing, wholesaling, and/or warehousing activities than those permitted in the M-1 Light Industrial Zoning District.

(R. 417, Pl.'s Stmt. Add'l Facts, Ex. 18. at 14.)

In the meantime, Bethlehem and Parvati entered into a real estate contract in which Bethlehem would acquire Parvati's property contingent upon Bethlehem obtaining the necessary approval from Oak Forest. (R. 417, Pl.'s Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 14.) To that end, on March 15, 2005, Bethlehem submitted a business use application seeking a textual amendment to the zoning ordinance to permit a senior independent living facility on Parvati's property, which was in the M2 Heavy Manufacturing District. (R. 388, City's Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 40; Indiv. Defs.' Stmt Facts ¶ 12.) Thereafter, on April 6, 2005, the Planning and Zoning Commission conducted a hearing on Bethlehem's application and voted to recommend to the City Council that it deny Bethlehem's March 2005 business use application. (City's Stmt. Facts ¶ 41.) On May 10, 2005, the City Council accepted the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation and denied Bethlehem's application. (Indiv. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 13.) In Oak Forest's position letter to Bethlehem's counsel dated September 29, 2005, the City explained that Bethlehem's proposed use did not fit within the meaning of motel/hotel within the City's zoning ordinance, but instead fell under the definition of multi-family dwelling, which was not a permitted or conditionally permitted use in the M2 zone. (R. 417, Pl.'s Ex. 4, 9/29/05 Letter, at 1-2; 06 C 1772, R. 68, Admin. Record, Ex. K.) The letter further stated that "[c]ity staff will be happy to assist your client, if it so desires, in locating a more appropriate property for its proposed senior housing project." (Id.)

On October 6, 2005, Bethlehem filed another commercial business license application with the City -- this time to operate an extended stay hotel on Parvati's property. (R. 417, Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 36.) The City denied the October 2005 application on November 21, 2005 because the proposed use would replace one non-conforming use with another non-conforming use. (R. 437, Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 20; Indiv. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 16.) Jones, who authored the November 21, 2005 denial letter, offered to "assist Bethlehem Enterprise, Inc., with locating alternative sites within appropriate zoning districts for its proposed extended-stay hotel project." (Indiv. Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 17.) Bethlehem did not respond to this offer. (Id.) Later, when Jones talked to Pastor Smith of the Bethlehem Temporary Missionary Baptist Church, Jones explained to him that it was a good project, but a bad location, and that the City would work with the church to find a better location. (Id. ¶ 19.) It is undisputed that there were a number of better locations for Bethlehem's project that were available in the City of Oak Forest. (Id. ¶ 20.)

On December 20, 2005, Parvati and Bethlehem filed an appeal with the Oak Forest Planning and Zoning Commission challenging the November 21, 2005 decision. (Id. ¶ 23; R. 437, Pl.'s Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 22.) On February 1, 2006, the City's Planning and Zoning Commission conducted a hearing and entered a final decision denying the appeal. (Indiv. Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 22.)

III. Prior Lawsuit

On March 7, 2006, Bethlehem and Parvati filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chancery Division, against Defendants Oak Forest, Newquist, Dotson, and Jones. (Id. ¶ 24; R. 388, City's Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) On March 30, 2006, Defendants filed a timely notice of removal to federal court. (City's Stmt. Facts ¶ 3.) As part of this first lawsuit, Parvati and Bethlehem sought review of the Oak Forest Planning and Zoning Commission's February 1, 2006 administrative decision denying Bethlehem's appeal regarding its October 2005 business license application to operate an extended stay hotel on Parvati's property pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/3-110 (Count I). (Id. ¶ 2.) In addition, Plaintiffs sought relief for: Defendants violating Plaintiffs' right to make and enforce contracts pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count II); Defendants violating Plaintiffs' right to purchase, sell, hold, or convey real estate pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1982 (Count III); Defendants' violations of the Federal Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(a), 3617 ...


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