Tuesday, June 18

City of Lincoln sued
over Fair Housing Act

[JUNE 18, 2002]  A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against the city of Lincoln for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans for Disabilities Act, the Lincoln Daily News learned yesterday.

Plaintiffs in the suit, filed May 2 in U.S. District Court in Springfield, are Community Services Foundation, Inc., and Charleston Transitional Facility, Inc., both Illinois not-for-profit corporations. Charleston Transitional Facility develops and operates Community Integrated Living Arrangements, or CILAs — group homes designed for up to eight people with developmental disabilities.

The suit stems from a request by David Krchak, an attorney for Charleston Transitional Facilities, that the city change its zoning on a lot in Stonebridge purchased by the Charleston firm so that firm can build a CILA there. The firm applied for a building permit on April 4 and on April 17 received a denial of the permit because the city’s zoning code does not permit that use in areas zoned R-1.

The city’s zoning code says that no group consisting of more than five unrelated people is considered a family and can reside in an R-1 zoned area.


The complaint charges that the city has "refused to make reasonable accommodations, which accommodations are necessary to afford persons with handicaps an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling," and alleges "discrimination on the basis of disability."

The plaintiffs are asking the federal court to declare the city in violation of the Fair Housing Act and grant a permanent injunction that will allow them to construct the group home, for up to eight people with handicaps, on Lot 1 in the Stonebridge subdivision.

The suit also asks that damages be awarded for "injuries caused by the city’s discriminatory housing practices," and that plaintiffs be awarded court costs, expenses and reasonable attorney’s fees. No monetary amount of damages was specified.

Lincoln City Attorney Bill Bates confirmed Monday evening that the lawsuit had been filed, and he said the city does not have to file a reply until July 6.

Handling the case for the city is a Chicago firm noted for representing municipalities, Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, Dicianni and Rolek, P.C.


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Another attorney, Tom Welty of Springfield, is also working for the city, researching the city’s housing code to try to determine if the ordinance actually is in violation of the Fair Housing Act, Bates said.

When Krchak came before the city council in March of 2002, he said he believed the city’s ordinance was illegal and that group homes must be allowed in an R-1 district.

Bates told the council later that month he was not yet ready to say the ordinance was illegal but was still researching it, with the help of Welty.

He told the council that he would anticipate a federal lawsuit if the city denied the permit to build the CILA in Stonebridge. He also quoted Krchak as saying he is "100 percent certain he can win a lawsuit against the city."

Several residents of the Stonebridge subdivision appeared at a council meeting in March to protest against building group homes in their neighborhood. Alderman also reported getting phone calls and letters from residents in the area who opposed group homes in an R-1 district.


Krchak was not available Tuesday, but an attorney in the office of his Champaign firm, Thomas, Mamer & Haughey, confirmed that the suit had been filed and that the city had not yet filed a reply.

Bates said he could not comment on how much the lawsuit might cost the city, which has been struggling to balance its budget in the face of the current economic downturn. Attorney fees for Welty are $135 an hour, Bates told the council recently.

[Joan Crabb]

Related articles

Council OKs 11 a.m. Sunday liquor sales

[JUNE 18, 2002]  With one "no" vote and little discussion, the Lincoln City Council voted to approve a change in the hours liquor can be served on Sundays, moving the time from 1 p.m. to 11 a.m.

The new hours will go into effect 30 days after a publication stating the terms of the ordinance change is posted in city hall, which City Attorney Bill Bates said will be soon.

Liquor license holders had petitioned for the earlier Sunday hours last year when the ordinance committee was discussing changes in the city’s liquor code. According to license holder Sean Taylor of Logan Lanes, sports fans who come to watch televised events want to buy liquor before 1 p.m., and restaurants who serve brunch want to be able to serve wine.

Alderman Benny Huskins voted against the change, and the other six aldermen present, Steve Fuhrer, Dave Armbrust, Pat Madigan, Verl Prather, George Mitchell and Bill Melton, voted for it. Alderman Glenn Shelton, who was not present, objected to the earlier hours at a previous meeting.

The council also approved allowing a business owner to remove the Bradford pear tree in front of the former U.S. Office building at 500 Broadway, but could not give permission for a property owner at 227 N. Logan to remove a sweet gum tree along the roadway.


Gregory Brinner of RE/MAX Realty, who purchased the Broadway Street building, told the council at a recent meeting that the tree roots were threatening to crack the sidewalk and the birds that roost in the trees make a mess on the street.

While Brinner may now remove one tree, two other Bradford pears in front of State Bank of Lincoln will stay, at least for now.

Michael Konkel of 227 N. Logan, who said he plans to turn the property into a bed-and-breakfast, said the hard, prickly sweet gum fruit is a nuisance when mowing and the roots may get into the sewer system.

Alderman Mitchell told the council that the neighbor to the south of Konkel doesn’t want the tree removed and he did not believe it should be taken out. Street Superintendent Don Osborne said any removal of trees along Logan Street must be approved by Illinois Department of Transportation, and he did not think IDOT would allow the city to remove the tree. He did, however, say the city would trim it.


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The city has reached tentative contract agreements with two of the four unions that represent city workers but did not vote to ratify the labor agreements Monday evening. The two units reaching agreement are the Fraternal Order of Police 208 and the Operating Engineers Local 399, which represents workers in the street department.

Bates said the city will ratify the two agreements when the contracts are in hand. He did not announce the terms of the agreements.

Agreements must still be reached with the unions representing the fire department and clerical workers. Bates said negotiations are under way with the fire department but the city has not yet begun negotiations with clerical workers.

Bates also told the council that the city has the title and deed for the small building at Fifth and Adams streets, which was given to the city by West Lincoln Township. Cost for the title transfer was $140.

Mayor Beth Davis said the city’s historic commission plans to move the building to the Postville Courthouse State Historic Site, a few blocks west of its current location. She said the building, once a West Lincoln polling place, has historic value and may be one of the original buildings in the former town of Postville.

The council approved going out for bids for new wiring for streetlights on Wyatt Avenue. The original aluminum wiring, which is 17 years old, is breaking down and needs to be replaced with copper wire, according to Osborne.

The council also approved sending a resolution to approve an early retirement incentive program to the ordinance and zoning committee, using ADA money to install handicapped accessible ramps on Broadway Street, and using drug and alcohol fund money to replace camera equipment on a police squad car.

[Joan Crabb]

Articles from the past week


  • Parents of LDC residents won’t give up

  • Lincoln loses valued business/family man

  • Pettijohn remembered as generous


  • The fate of three Bradford pear trees

  • City looking at intergovernmental agreement on tactical team

  • Habitat group seeks applicants wanting a home  (Good Neighbors)

  • Gov. Ryan signs House Bill 4159


  • Jim Ryan pledges to reopen LDC

  • Explore Logan County this weekend! (Tourism)

  • County board addresses zoning and insurance issues



  • Bomke: LDC, education topped priorities

  • State representative candidate Rich Brauer disappointed with closure of LDC

  • Middle-of-the-night severe weather strikes Logan County


  • DHS needs looking into, says Mitchell

  • Sept. 1 target date for final LDC closing

  • Senate upholds governor’s cuts; AFSCME charges ‘reckless indifference’ to human needs


  • Ryan to close LDC; union says set up to fail

  • Mitchell upset by LDC funding veto

  • LDC residents get loving care

  • Safety concerns force closure of Lincoln Developmental Center

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