Thursday, September 22, 2016

Faith-Based Recovery Home Loses Challenges To Fire Code Enforcement

In Affordable Recovery Housing v. City of Blue Island, (ND IL, Sept. 21, 2016), an Illinois federal district court in a 40-page opinion dismissed a claim under RLUIPA and its Illinois counterpart, the 1st and 14th Amendments, as well as under the Fair Housing Amendments Act, brought against the city by a faith-based recovery home for drug and alcohol addicts. At issue was the city's enforcement of its fire code sprinkler system requirement that led to the eviction of 73 men from the facility, and the city refusal to grant an accommodation that would have given the facility 3 years to install a sprinkler system.

The court held that the eviction was pursuant to the fire code, not the zoning code, so RLUIPA does not apply. Moving to the claim under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the court then held that the eviction stemming from a delayed enforcement of the fire code and the refusal to grant an accommodation did not impose a substantial burden on the facility's religious exercise and, in any event, the city's enforcement of its sprinkler regulations was in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest. The court also rejected the claim that the city violated RLUIPA by demanding that the facility apply for a special use permit.