Mary B. Valencia, et al. Plaintiffs-Appellees,
City of Springfield, Illinois, Defendant-Appellant.
February 8, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of Illinois. No. 3:16-cv-03331 - Richard Mills,
Flaum, Easterbrook, and Manion, Circuit Judges.
allege the City of Springfield ("Springfield" or
"the City") unlawfully discriminated against three
disabled individuals when it ruled they could no longer
occupy a single-family residence located within 600 feet of
an existing disabled group home. Finding that plaintiffs
possessed a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits,
the district court granted them a preliminary injunction and
enjoined the City from initiating eviction proceedings while
this case is pending. The City appeals. For the reasons
stated below, we affirm.
most municipalities, Springfield's zoning code ("the
Code") divides the city into multiple zoning districts,
including residential districts. Springfield, Ill., Code of
Ordinances § 155.004. The primary permitted use within
residential districts is "single-family detached
residences." Id. § 155.016. The Code
defines "family" as:
One or more persons each related to one another by blood,
marriage, or adoption, or is a group of not more than five
persons not all so related occupying a single dwelling unit
which is not a boardinghouse or lodging house as defined in
Id. § 155.001.
addition to single-family detached residences, the Code also
allows certain residential districts to be used for
"family care residence[s]." Id. §
155.016. The Code defines a "family care residence"
A single dwelling unit occupied on a relatively permanent
basis in a family-like environment by a group of no more than
six unrelated persons with disabilities, plus paid
professional support staff provided by a sponsoring agency
either living with the residents on a 24-hour basis or
present whenever residents with disabilities are present at
the dwelling, and complies with the zoning regulations for
the district in which the site is located.
Id. § 155.001. The Code imposes additional
restrictions on family care residences. In relevant part,
such residences must be "located upon a zoning lot which
is more than 600 feet from the property line of any other
such facility." Id. § 155.053. According
to the Code, this is to ensure that family care residences,
"which operate most effectively in residential
environments, do not adversely affect those environments
through over concentration." Id.
Individual Advocacy Group, Inc. ("IAG") is a
non-profit organization that provides residential services to
adults with disabilities, including assistance in dressing,
food preparation, shopping, home maintenance, and cleaning.
Such services allow disabled individuals to live in
family-like settings in typical residential communities, a
configuration commonly referred to as Community Integrated
Living Arrangements ("CILAs"). Notably, unlike
other residential service agencies, IAG does not own or
operate group homes. Rather, IAG clients (or their legal
guardians) rent individual dwellings on their own behalf, and
then IAG provides in-home support.
2012, IAG contacted several property owners in Springfield
about providing housing for CILAs. In August 2013, Christine
and Robyn Hovey agreed to rent a home located at 2328 Noble
Avenue ("the Noble home") to three IAG clients. The
Noble home is located in a residential district that allows
both single-family detached residences and family care
residences. It is a one-story ranch house that resembles
other dwelling units in the neighborhood. The district court
found there is nothing about the exterior of the Noble home
that indicates it is inhabited by disabled individuals.
Although IAG employees are present any time the home is
occupied, they do not drive marked vehicles, and there are
generally no more than two staff cars present at any time.
March 2014, after the Hoveys completed significant
renovations,  IAG clients J.M., J.D., and former
plaintiff A.D. moved into the Noble home. Each possessed
a substantial physical or mental impairment, and two were
non-ambulatory. At the time, A.D. was a sixty-two year-old
male who was confined to a wheelchair and almost completely
to the Hoveys, IAG, or its clients, Sparc- another non-profit
organization supporting those with developmental
disabilities-had been operating a family care residence
("the Sparc home") across the street from the Noble
home for approximately twelve years. Like the Noble home, the
Sparc home is indistinguishable from other homes in the area.
However, according to the City, the property lines of the
Noble home and the Sparc home are separated by only 157 feet.
August 2016, the City notified the Hoveys that a complaint
had been filed because the Noble home was located within 600
feet of the Sparc home, in violation of § 155.053 of the
Code. The City thus informed the Hoveys that the Noble home
residents would be evicted unless the Hoveys applied for a
Conditional Permitted Use ("CPU"). Under the Code,
"[a]ny family care residence … not in compliance
with [§ 155.053] … may seek a conditional
permitted use under … the zoning ordinance."
Id. To qualify for a CPU, a family care residence
must establish that: (1) "the proposed location and use
will not have any adverse impact upon residents of nearby
facilities when located within 600 feet of another such
facility"; and (2) "[t]he proposed location will
not have any detrimental affect [sic] upon existing privacy,
light or environment of surrounding residences."
Id. § 155.211.1.
October 7, 2016, the Hoveys and IAG submitted a joint CPU
application. On November 10, 2016, the Spring-field-Sangamon
County Regional Planning Commission ("the County
Commission") recommended the CPU be denied because
"[t]he evidence provided in the petition [did] not
provide sufficient detail to allow staff to make a reasonable
determination whether the design and method of operation of
the proposed use [would] minimize the adverse effects on the
character of the surrounding area."
November 16, 2016, the Springfield Zoning and Planning
Commission ("the Springfield Commission") held a
public hearing. At the hearing, Dr. Charlene Bennett,
IAG's executive director, testified that when the Noble
home opened, IAG was not aware of the Sparc home across the
street. She further testified that, except for one instance
in early 2014 when a Sparc resident entered the Noble home
without supervision, the residents of the Noble home have had
no contact with the residents of the Sparc home.
also presented testimony from Daniel Lauber, a land use
planning and zoning expert. Lauber testified that because the
Noble home was leased by IAG's clients, not IAG itself,
the City should treat its residents as a "family"
under § 155.001 and classify the home as a single-family
detached residence rather than a family care residence.
Lauber further testified that, even if the home was deemed a
family care residence, a CPU was warranted because the home
was consistent with the City's comprehensive plans and
did not adversely affect the surrounding community.
response, certain residents of the 2300 block of Noble Avenue
asked that the CPU be denied because caregivers "rac[ed]
up and down their block to get to work on time, "
"listen[ed] to … loud music in their vehicles,
" "park[ed] on the wrong side of the street, "
and blocked driveways and sidewalks.
conclusion of the hearing, the Springfield Commission voted
4-3 to recommend denial of the CPU. The Springfield City
Council considered the recommendations of the County
Commission and the Springfield Commission on December 20,
2016. Once again, IAG requested the City either deem the
Noble home a single-family detached residence or grant a CPU.
Following a public comment ...