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MAUM Meditation House of Truth v. Lake County

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 16, 2014

MAUM MEDITATION HOUSE OF TRUTH, an Illinois not-for-profit Corporation, in its corporate capacity and also on behalf of certain members of the organization, and SHEEHYUNG SUNG, Plaintiffs,
v.
LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, an Illinois Municipal corporation, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Maum Meditation House of Truth, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, in its corporate capacity and also on behalf of certain members of the organization, Sheeyung Sung, Plaintiff: John W. Mauck, Jeffrey M. Schwab, Mauck & Baker, LLC, Chicago, IL.

For Lake County, an Illinois municipal corporation, Defendant: Kevin John Berrill, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lisle A. Stalter, Lake County State's Attorney's Office, Waukegan, IL.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Sharon Johnson Coleman, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs, MAUM Meditation House of Truth, certain of its members and Sheehyung Sung (collectively " MAUM" or " plaintiffs" ), filed an Amended Complaint after this Court's denial of MAUM's motion for preliminary injunction and MAUM's acquiescence that it should pursue an appeal with the zoning board before proceeding with the instant action. Defendant Lake County moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim [34]. MAUM renewed its motion for preliminary injunction [31]. For the reasons set forth below, this Court grants Lake County's motion to dismiss and denies MAUM's motion for preliminary injunction.

Background

MAUM's complaint in this matter requests a permanent injunction and declaratory relief based on Lake County's decision that MAUM needs a " change of use" permit to operate a meditation center in Mr. Sung's residence at 1122 Elm Road, Lake Forest, Illinois, 60045.

MAUM is seeking to use the property as both a residence for Mr. Sung and two meditation guides, and a meditation center comprising two rooms for small group meditation. MAUM estimates that approximately twenty people per day in groups of two to five persons would use the facility. MAUM maintains that they do not need to comply with building code or apply for a " change of use" permit because they are not changing the use of the premises. MAUM contends that the

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meditation center is an " accessory" use to the residence and thus they are in compliance with the building code without making any renovations.

Lake County supplemented its motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint with the transcripts and findings of the hearings from the Zoning Board of Appeals. On January 21, 2014, and February 11, 2014, the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals held public hearings on MAUM's request for administrative appeal to reverse an administrative decision by the Chief Engineer and Building Official of the Lake County Planning, Building and Development Department. As a result of those hearings, the Zoning Board of Appeals issued a decision finding that:

1) the proposed use of the property entails the establishment of a place of religious worship in an existing residence;

2) if the existing residence were to also contain the proposed place of religious worship, the building would contain two occupancies as defined by the International Building Code of 2006;

3) as proposed, the existing residence would remain the principle use or purpose of the subject building;

4) the activities that would occur in the proposed place of religious worship would not be necessary for the exiting residence to properly function and could otherwise reasonably exist apart from the existing residence;

5) as such, the proposed place of religious worship would be neither accessory nor ancillary to the existing residence; and

6) the proposed use does not qualify for an exception from the application of Section 508 of the International Building Code of 2006 that applies to " mixed uses and occupancies."

The Zoning Board of Appeals therefore affirmed the Chief Building Official's determination that the proposed use of a religious institution and residence is a mixed use that does not qualify for an exemption. Further, the ...


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