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Affordable Recovery Housing v. The City of Blue Island

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

November 17, 2014

AFFORDABLE RECOVERY HOUSING, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF BLUE ISLAND, a municipal corporation, and TERRY VRSHEK in his official capacity as Blue Island Fire Chief, Defendants

For Affordable Recovery Housing, An Illinois not-for-profit corporation, Plaintiff: Andy Robert Norman, LEAD ATTORNEY, John W. Mauck, Mauck & Baker, Chicago, IL; Jeffrey M. Schwab, Mauck & Baker, LLC, Chicago, IL.

For Terry Vrshek, in his official capacity as Blue Island Fire Chief, The City of Blue Island, Defendants: Terrence R. Sullivan, Terrence R. Sullivan, Attorney at Law, Blue Island, IL.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Robert M. Dow, Jr., United States District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff Affordable Recovery Housing's motion for partial summary judgment for declaratory relief [72]. In September 2013, Plaintiff obtained a license from the Illinois Department of Human Services (" DHS" or " the Department" ) to operate a Recovery Home. The Department is charged with regulating and licensing Recovery Homes, which provide substance abuse services and housing for recovering alcoholics and substance users. Pursuant to the statutory authority granted to it in the Alcoholism and Other Drug Abuse and Dependency Act, 20 ILCS 301 et seq., DHS enacted a comprehensive regulatory scheme regarding Recovery Homes. Under the DHS regulations, Plaintiff is not required to install sprinkler systems for fire safety purposes in its buildings. Under the Life Safety Code adopted by Defendant City of Blue Island, however, sprinkler systems are required. For the reasons that follow, the Court concludes that the DHS regulations preempt the City's Life Safety Code such that the City may not enforce its sprinkler requirements against Plaintiff. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment for declaratory relief.

I. Background

Affordable Recovery Housing (" ARH" ) is faith-based, Christian organization that provides housing and recovery services to adult men with alcohol addiction. In March 2011, ARH began renting a property from the Mantellate Sisters of Mary located in Blue Island, Illinois. ARH uses five buildings to run its services, labeled Buildings A through E. At issue for present purposes are Buildings C and D, which are known as the " old convent" and the " high school." ARH seeks to house recovering alcoholics in these two buildings.

On May 24, 2012, the City's fire chief, Defendant Terry Vrshek, ordered ARH to vacate the premises, in part because the buildings lacked sprinkler systems in violation of the 2012 National Fire Protection Association's Life Safety Code, which the City had adopted. A few days later, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the City and its fire chief as well as a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. The Court denied Plaintiff's motion on the issue of whether the 2012 Life Safety Code, as adopted by the City, required Plaintiff to install automatic sprinkler systems, as the City insisted. Plaintiff moved its residents in recovery off the premises as a result, and only ARH staff have resided there since.

On September 11, 2013, ARH obtained a license to operate a Recovery Home from DHS/Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and filed a Second Amended Complaint shortly thereafter with allegations regarding its newly obtained license. Under the Alcoholism and Other Drug Abuse and Dependency Act, DHS provides licensure requirements for recovery home services. See 20 ILCS 301/15-10(f). Persons who provide treatment for alcoholism must be licensed to do so by DHS, and DHS may undertake inspections and investigations to ensure that the license requirement is followed. See 20 ILCS 301/15-5(a). The recovery home licensure requirements (the " DHS Regulations" ) are

Page 877

set forth in Title 77 of the Illinois Administrative Code. Recovery Homes are defined there as:

alcohol and drug free housing components whose rules, peer-led groups, staff activities and/or other structured operations are directed toward maintenance of sobriety for persons who exhibit treatment resistance, relapse potential and/or lack of suitable recovery living environments or who recently have completed substance abuse treatment services or who may be receiving such treatment services at another licensed facility.

77 ILAC § 2060.509. The DHS Regulations govern the operations of Recovery Homes and set forth various requirements to be followed. Subsection (e) provides that Recovery Homes must:

comply with all applicable zoning and local building ordinances and the provisions specified in Chapter 26 (Lodging or Rooming Houses) of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Life Safety Code of 2000 (no later amendments or editions included) for any building housing 16 or fewer residents and with the provisions specified in Chapter 29 (Existing Hotels and Dormitories) of the NFPA Life Safety Code of 2000 (no later amendments or editions included) for any building housing 17 or more residents[.]

Id. § 2060.509(e).

At issue is the specification in the DHS Regulations that Chapter 29 of the 2000 Life Safety Code, " no later amendments or editions included," applies to buildings that house 17 or more residents. (Buildings C and D are subject to this requirement, as they will house at least 17 men.) According to Plaintiff, automatic sprinklers are not required for the ARH buildings under Chapter 29 of the 2000 Code, because they do not qualify as high-rise buildings. See 2000 NFPA Life Safety Code, § 29.3.5.1-2.[1] Plaintiff argues that Chapter 29 of the 2000 Code preempts the 2012 Life Safety Code adopted by Blue Island such that Blue Island may not impose its more restrictive sprinkler system requirement.

Defendants do not dispute that under the 2000 Life Safety Code, Plaintiff need not install sprinkler systems. See Defs.' Resp. [76]; Defs.' Memo. [77]. Rather, Defendants contend that preemption does not apply because the DHS Regulations call for concurrent regulation of Recovery Homes by local and state authorities. Defendants maintain that the City's sprinkler system requirement--contained in Chapter 32 of the 2012 Life ...


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