Civil Liberties for Urban Believers v. City of Chicago, No. 01-4030.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBauer
Citation342 F.3d 752
Docket NumberNo. 01-4030.
Decision Date20 August 2003
PartiesCIVIL LIBERTIES FOR URBAN BELIEVERS, Christ Center, Christian Covenant Outreach Church, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant-Appellee.
342 F.3d 752
CIVIL LIBERTIES FOR URBAN BELIEVERS, Christ Center, Christian Covenant Outreach Church, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 01-4030.
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
ARGUED January 17, 2003.
DECIDED August 20, 2003.

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John W. Mauck (argued), Mauck & Baker, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Benna R. Solomon (argued), Suzanne M. Loose, Office of the Corp. Counsel, Appeals Div., Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellee.

Mark Stern, Lowell Sturgill (argued), Dept. of Justice, Civil Div., Appellate Section, Washington, DC, for Intervenor.

Marci A. Hamilton, Washington Crossing, PA, for Amicus Curiae.

Before BAUER, POSNER, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

BAUER, Circuit Judge.


Appellants, an association of Chicago-area churches and five individual member churches thereof, appeal from the district court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Appellee, the City of Chicago, on Appellants' claims challenging the Chicago Zoning Ordinance ("CZO"), 17 MUNICIPAL CODE OF CHICAGO, ILL., §§ 1-11, under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 UNITED STATES CODE § 2000cc et seq., and the United States Constitution. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decision of the district court.

BACKGROUND

The CZO broadly divides the city into R, B, C, and M zones for residential, business, commercial, and manufacturing uses, respectively. Each zone, in turn, is subdivided into numbered districts and subdistricts. A majority of Chicago land available for development is zoned R. The CZO's stated purposes include the following: (i) "to promote and to protect the public health, safety, morals, comfort, convenience, and the general welfare of the people," and (ii) "to protect the character and maintain the stability for residential, business, commercial, and manufacturing areas within the City, and to promote the orderly and beneficial development of such areas." See 17 MUN. CODE CHI. § 2(1), (3)(2001). Churches are permitted uses as of right in all R zones, but are termed Variations in the Nature of Special Uses ("Special Use") in all B zones as well as C1, C2, C3, and C5 districts. All Special Uses, whether of a religious or nonreligious nature, require approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals ("ZBA") following a public hearing. See id. §§ 7.3-1(4), 8.4, 9.4, & 11.10. Special Use approval is expressly conditioned upon the design, location, and operation of the proposed use consistent with the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, and the proposed use must not substantially injure the value of neighboring property. See id. § 11.10-4. Factoring such expenses as application, title search, and legal fees, as well as appraisal and neighbor notification

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costs, the aggregate cost of obtaining Special Use approval approaches $5000. Before a church may locate in a C4 district or an M zone, the Chicago City Council must vote in favor of a Map Amendment, effectively rezoning the targeted parcel. See id. §§ 9.4-4, 10, & 11.9. Development for church use of land consisting of two or more acres (necessary for congregations exceeding roughly 500 members) requires approval by City Council vote of a Planned Development. See id. § 11.11-1(a) & 11.11-3.

Civil Liberties for Urban Believers ("CLUB") is an unincorporated association of 40 to 50 Chicago-area religious or not-for-profit Illinois corporations ranging in size from 15 to 15,000 congregants. Five of these individual member churches1 joined CLUB as plaintiffs in an action challenging the validity of the CZO. The district court summarized as follows the encounters of the five individual plaintiff churches with Chicago's zoning framework as alleged in Appellants' complaint:

Christ Center began meeting in a high school auditorium in 1990, but soon experienced difficulties at this location due to various school functions that interrupted weekly worship. As a result, Christ Center began searching for a building to purchase. The church was unsuccessful in locating an appropriate building in any R districts. In the summer of 1992, Christ Center located a suitable building at 1139-43 West Madison in Chicago. The building was located in a C district and Christ Center promptly applied for a special use permit. After completing the application process, Christ Center reached out to gain the support of neighbors and Alderman Theodore Mazola. Most neighbors favored a taxpaying entity in the neighborhood rather than a church and Alderman Mazola stated that he would support the church's special use permit on any street but Madison. The Zoning Board eventually convened a special hearing on September 18, 1992. On October 18, 1992, the special use permit was denied. Christ Center subsequently found a second building in an M district at 123 South Morgan. The owner of the building also agreed to provide financing. However, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development informed Christ Center that it would oppose any rezoning application because the particular area was designated to become an entertainment area and the presence of a church would inhibit such development. Christ Center subsequently choose not to file an application for rezoning. In the fall of 1993, Christ Center obtained property at 4445 South King Drive, successfully obtained a special use permit and now operates a church at this location. Christ Center now claims that it paid substantial sums in attorneys fees, appraisal fees, zoning application charges, title charges and other expenses attempting to find suitable property.

Between 1986 and the summer of 1988, Christian Bible met in a private home. The church eventually outgrew this space and began meeting in a funeral home. The funeral home, however, proved aesthetically and administratively problematic. In 1990, Christian Bible located a suitable building in a B district at 83rd and Essex. Alderman Beavers promptly informed Christian Bible that "he would not allow" a church at that location. Consequently, Christian Bible

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did not apply for a special use permit at this location. In March 1991, Christian Bible purchased property in another B district at 513-23 East 75th Street. The Park Manor Neighbors Association and Alderman Steele both opposed the church's special use permit application. On May 17, 1991, the permit was denied. Christian Bible then unsuccessfully attempted to sell the building for 10 months. In February 1992, Christian Bible renovated the building to enhance its appearance. During these renovations, the church rented space at another location, or held meetings at private homes. Christian Bible later reapplied for a special use permit which was granted on August 20, 1993 with the support of neighbors in the district. Christian Bible now claims the delay in obtaining a special use permit prevented the church from obtaining a real estate tax exemption. The church further alleges that it also paid substantial sums in expenses related to the application process and also suffered a decrease in membership. Christian Bible now owns and meets at a church at 6210 S. St. Louis and has successfully obtained a special use permit to operate the church. From February, 1988 to December, 1993, Mount Zion rented space in a C district at 4545 North Kedzie. During this period, Mount Zion never applied for a special use permit. In 1990, a [Chicago] inspector ordered Mount Zion to vacate the building. In April 1993, Mount Zion located suitable rental property at 3949 North Pulaski, and applied for a special use permit. During this process, the Zoning Board informed Mount Zion that the building lacked adequate parking accommodations for a church and both the building and each parking lot would require special use permits. Alderman Wojcik and a neighborhood group also opposed Mount Zion's application. Consequently, Mount Zion withdrew its application for a special use permit. Mount Zion now owns and meets in a church at 3807 N. Lavergne.

On November 1, 1992, Christian Covenant first rented property in a C district. The owner of the building offered to co-sign a loan enabling Christian Covenant to purchase the property. However, [Chicago] inspectors ordered Christian Covenant to stop using the building as a church without a special use permit. As a result, Christian Covenant did not purchase the building out of fear [Chicago] would not allow the building to be used as a church without a special use permit. Christian Covenant now owns and meets in a church located in an R district.

Between 1990 and 1992, His Word met in the basement of a private home until membership outgrew these accommodations. In 1992, His Word located a suitable building in a C district at 1616 West Pershing. On March 27, 1992, the church signed a purchase contract contingent upon the grant of a special use permit. After filing their special use permit application, His Word met with neighbors in the district who generally supported it. Alderman Patrick Huels stated he would neither support nor oppose the application. On three separate occasions, at the request of Alderman Huels, the [ZBA] postponed a hearing on His Word's application. On October 14, 1992, Alderman Huels introduced an amendment to the [CZO] to rezone the property located at 1616 West Pershing from a C district to an M district. After a hearing on December 10, 1992, Alderman William Banks and other aldermen on the Chicago Committee on Zoning of the Chicago City Council voted to recommend approval of the amendment.

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Both His Word and Citibank, the owner of the building, opposed the rezoning. On December 15, 1992, the Chicago City Council voted to enact the rezoning amendment changing 1616 West Pershing from a C district to an M district. His Word subsequently withdrew its application for a special use permit; the church...

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    ...burden" on religious exercise. As the Seventh Circuit recently held in Civil Liberties for Urban Believers v. City of Chicago, 342 F.3d 752, 761 (7th Application of the substantial burden provision to a regulation inhibiting or constraining any religious exercise, including the use of prope......
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    ...right." Ill. Bible Colls. Ass'n , 870 F.3d at 641 (alteration in original) (quoting Civil Liberties for Urban Believers v. City of Chi. , 342 F.3d 752, 765 (7th Cir. 2003) ). The cases that Plaintiffs rely on in support of their Free Exercise claim are distinguishable. The NIFLA Plaintiffs ......
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    ...for Evangelism, Inc. v. City of Long Branch, 510 F.3d 253, 262 (3rd Cir.2007); Civil Liberties for Urban Believers v. City of Chicago, 342 F.3d 752, 762 (7th Cir.2003) (“the substantial burden and nondiscrimination provisions are operatively independent of one another”). Plaintiff has alleg......
  • Catholic Charities v. Superior Court, No. S099822.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • March 1, 2004
    ...right." (Miller v. Reed (9th Cir.1999) 176 F.3d 1202, 1208; see also Civil Lib. for Urban Believers v. City of Chicago (7th Cir.2003) 342 F.3d 752, 765; Swanson By and Through Swanson v. Guthrie ISD I-L (10th Cir.1998) 135 F.3d 694, Catholic Charities argues that the non-free-exercise compo......
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303 cases
  • Konikov v. Orange County, Florida, No. 6:02-CV-376-ORL-28-JGG.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 2, 2004
    ...burden" on religious exercise. As the Seventh Circuit recently held in Civil Liberties for Urban Believers v. City of Chicago, 342 F.3d 752, 761 (7th Application of the substantial burden provision to a regulation inhibiting or constraining any religious exercise, including the use of prope......
  • Nat'l Inst. of Family & Life Advocates v. Schneider, No. 3:16 C 50310
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • September 3, 2020
    ...right." Ill. Bible Colls. Ass'n , 870 F.3d at 641 (alteration in original) (quoting Civil Liberties for Urban Believers v. City of Chi. , 342 F.3d 752, 765 (7th Cir. 2003) ). The cases that Plaintiffs rely on in support of their Free Exercise claim are distinguishable. The NIFLA Plaintiffs ......
  • Church of Scientology of Ga., Inc. v. City of Sandy Springs, Ga., No. 1:10–CV–00082–AT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • February 10, 2012
    ...for Evangelism, Inc. v. City of Long Branch, 510 F.3d 253, 262 (3rd Cir.2007); Civil Liberties for Urban Believers v. City of Chicago, 342 F.3d 752, 762 (7th Cir.2003) (“the substantial burden and nondiscrimination provisions are operatively independent of one another”). Plaintiff has alleg......
  • Catholic Charities v. Superior Court, No. S099822.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • March 1, 2004
    ...right." (Miller v. Reed (9th Cir.1999) 176 F.3d 1202, 1208; see also Civil Lib. for Urban Believers v. City of Chicago (7th Cir.2003) 342 F.3d 752, 765; Swanson By and Through Swanson v. Guthrie ISD I-L (10th Cir.1998) 135 F.3d 694, Catholic Charities argues that the non-free-exercise compo......
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