A Helping Hand, LLC v. Baltimore County, Md, No. 06-2026.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtDiana Gribbon Motz
Citation515 F.3d 356
Docket NumberNo. 06-2026.
Decision Date12 February 2008
PartiesA HELPING HAND, LLC, A Maryland Corporate Entity; John Doe 1; Jane Doe Number 1; John Doe 2, Plaintiffs-Appellees, and Jane Doe Number 2; Jane Doe Number 3, Plaintiffs, v. BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND; Office of the Zoning Commissioner of Baltimore County; County Council of Baltimore County; Baltimore County Department of Permits and Development Management, Defendants-Appellants.
515 F.3d 356
A HELPING HAND, LLC, A Maryland Corporate Entity; John Doe 1; Jane Doe Number 1; John Doe 2, Plaintiffs-Appellees, and
Jane Doe Number 2; Jane Doe Number 3, Plaintiffs,
v.
BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND; Office of the Zoning Commissioner of Baltimore County; County Council of Baltimore County; Baltimore County Department of Permits and Development Management, Defendants-Appellants.
No. 06-2026.
United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.
Argued: December 4, 2007.
Decided: February 12, 2008.

[515 F.3d 357]

ARGUED: Jeffrey Grant Cook, Paul M. Mayhew, Baltimore County Office of Law,

[515 F.3d 358]

Towson, Maryland, for Appellants. Richard A. Simpson, Ross, Dixon & Bell, L.L.P., Washington, D.C., for Appellees. ON BRIEF: John E. Beverungen, County Attorney, Baltimore County Office of Law, Towson, Maryland, for Appellants. Deborah A. Jeon, ACLU of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland; Jimmy R. Rock, Ross, Dixon & Bell, L.L.P., Washington, D.C., for Appellees.

Before MOTZ and DUNCAN, Circuit Judges, and BRINKEMA, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded by published opinion. Judge MOTZ wrote the opinion, in which Judge DUNCAN and Judge BRINKEMA joined.

OPINION

DIANA GRIBBON MOTZ, Circuit Judge:


This case arises from the enactment of a county zoning ordinance rendering operation of a methadone treatment clinic at its chosen location unlawful. The clinic alleges that the ordinance violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213 (2000 & Supp.2005), and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. After the close of all evidence, the district court granted judgment as a matter of law to the clinic on its ADA disparate impact claim and one element of its ADA intentional discrimination claim. After deliberation, the jury returned a verdict for the clinic on the remaining elements of its ADA intentional discrimination claim and its due process claim. The district court then granted the clinic declaratory and injunctive relief. The County appeals. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I.

A Helping Hand, LLC ("the. Clinic") is a for-profit methadone clinic located in Baltimore County, Maryland, which Joel Prell, a local resident, established in 2002. Methadone, a federally-approved drug, is used to treat severe, chronic opioid addiction, including heroin addiction. Methadone helps addicts to stop using narcotics by blocking the physical craving for other opioids. Like many other methadone clinics, the Clinic provides methadone maintenance treatment to eligible, admitted patients, along with services such as counseling.

Prell began looking into the possibility of opening a private methadone clinic in Baltimore County in 2001 and identified 116 Slade Avenue as a possible location. In November 2001, Prell wrote to the County Department of Permits and Development Management to inquire about the possibility of opening a methadone clinic at the Slade Avenue site. On November 21, the County notified Prell in writing that a drug addiction counseling and treatment center constituted a use "permitted by right" under the zoning ordinance applicable to the Slade Avenue site, but that a "change of occupancy permit" might be required before establishing a clinic at that site. Prell promptly inquired about the need for a change of occupancy permit; the County then informed him that because the Slade Avenue site was currently being used as a medical office, establishing a methadone treatment center at the site would not require a change of occupancy permit and he did not need to submit any additional documentation. Relying on this advice, Prell arranged for incorporation of the Clinic, entered into a lease for the Slade Avenue site, and applied for the

515 F.3d 359

required federal and state certifications and permits.

Soon, the surrounding community learned of these plans and voiced strong opposition to the proposed location of the Clinic. Local community associations distributed flyers, scheduled meetings, held public demonstrations, and organized letter writing and telephone campaigns in an attempt to prevent the Clinic from opening. Some of the protests became very heated; for example, police officers were needed to control a protest outside of the Clinic during a community open house. Several local newspapers extensively reported on the protests, and a community association website posted updates about the organized community opposition to the Clinic.

Kevin Kamenetz, the County councilman representing the district in which the Clinic sought to open, became actively involved in the organized opposition to the Clinic. In addition to enlisting the support of state officials in this effort, Councilman Kamenetz regularly communicated with the community leaders opposing the Clinic and participated in open community meetings to develop strategies to prevent the Clinic from opening.

On April 1, 2002, Councilman Kamenetz introduced to the County Council legislation that he had helped to write, Bill 39-02 ("the Bill"). The Bill created a new category—"state-licensed medical clinics"— which included drug abuse treatment centers, and proposed new zoning requirements for that category. The Bill provides that these "state-licensed medical clinics" could no longer operate as a matter of right in commercial zones; instead, such clinics can operate in commercial zones only by "special exception," requiring a permit and a public hearing before any permit can be issued. Additionally, the Bill required such clinics to be located at least 750 feet from the nearest residence. After introduction of the Bill, the County Council scheduled a work session for April 9,2002, so that members of the community could voice comments about the proposed Bill to the Council. At the work session, several leaders of community groups that had organized in opposition to the Clinic spoke in support of the Bill.

Bill 39-02 was not the County's first attempt to use a new zoning ordinance to' prevent a methadone clinic from operating. In 1998, the County had sought to prevent a different methadone treatment clinic from opening by requiring that the clinic prevail at a public hearing before being permitted even to apply for a zoning permit. A federal court held that process to violate the ADA, however. Smith Berch, Inc. v. Baltimore County, 115 F.Supp.2d 520 (D.Md.2000), vacated on other grounds, Smith-Berch, Inc. v. Baltimore County, 64 Fed.Appx. 887 (4th Cir.2003). Opponents of A Helping Hand, including Councilman Kamenetz and other public officials, knew the holding of the prior case—in Kamenetz' words, that "methadone clinics must be treated the same as any other type of medical clinic . . . when choosing a location"—and they understood that their plan to prevent the Clinic from opening presented potential ADA problems. As Councilman Kamenetz explained at a community meeting, Bill 39-02 contained this new (narrowly defined) category of "state-licensed medical clinics" because it was not permissible for legislation to "suggest that a methadone clinic itself could be treated differently."

Meanwhile, Prell continued the process of obtaining the necessary permits to open A Helping Hand. By March 2002, Prell had received approval from all of the relevant federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

515 F.3d 360

Administration, and the Council on Accreditation. During a site visit to the Clinic on April 2, 2002, state officials stated that the Clinic was "in compliance, and . . . should be receiving [its necessary state] license shortly." A week later, however, state officials notified Prell that the County had advised them that Prell had not submitted materials demonstrating that the Clinic's site plan and parking were adequate and that therefore the Clinic's occupancy permit had "not yet been approved," so the State would not issue the necessary state license.1 Prell promptly contacted the County, which told him that it had erred in earlier informing him that the Clinic needed neither an occupancy permit nor any supporting documentation. Now, the County contended that the Clinic was required to submit a site plan and parking plan to obtain an occupancy permit. Prell testified that, during this period, he overheard a conversation in which a County official assured the head of a local community association that the Clinic would never be allowed to open.

Prell subsequently submitted the requested site and parking plans to the County. The County still refused to issue the occupancy permit and required the Clinic to submit a plan depicting the utilities, including the plumbing and electrical operation of the building. The Clinic promptly submitted this additional documentation, and on April 15, the County finally issued the Clinic an occupancy permit. That same morning, Prell hand-delivered the permit to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and obtained from the Department the necessary state license. Accordingly, by the morning of April 15, 2002, the Clinic had received final federal, state, and county approval, including a valid County zoning permit.

Later that same day, April 15, 2002, the County Council voted to enact Bill 39-02, and the County Executive signed the Bill into law the next morning, April 16, 2002. Although not unprecedented, several aspects of the Bill's enactment departed from normal procedure. The County Council passed the Bill only fifteen days after its initial introduction, in marked contrast to the one to two months County officials frequently took to enact new legislation. Moreover, the County Council voted that the legislation would become effective on the date of enactment,...

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  • Mary's House, Inc. v. State, No. 1:12cv169.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • September 30, 2013
    ...10.) Recovering from substance abuse addiction is “unquestionably” an impairment under the ADA. A Helping Hand, LLC v. Balt. Cnty., Md., 515 F.3d 356, 367 (4th Cir.2008). It is also an impairment under section 504 of the RA, which defines “disability” with reference to the ADA, 29 U.S.C. § ......
  • Chamberlain v. Securian Fin. Grp., Inc., DOCKET NO. 3:14–cv–00453–MOC–DCK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • February 19, 2016
    ...has held that “[u]nquestionably, drug addiction constitutes an impairment under the ADA.” A Helping Hand, LLC v. Baltimore Cnty., MD , 515 F.3d 356, 367 (4th Cir.2008) (collecting cases and other authority). “However, ‘[m]erely having an impairment does not make one disabled for purposes of......
  • Md. Shall Issue, Inc. v. Hogan, Civil Case No. ELH-16-3311
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • March 31, 2019
    ...id. § 12134(a), the Attorney General has promulgated regulations implementing Title II of the ADA. See A Helping Hand, LLC v. Balt. Cty., 515 F.3d 356, 362 (4th Cir. 2008). Of relevance here, federal regulations explicitly forbid public entities from "administer[ing] a licensing or certific......
  • Courtney-Pope v. Bd. of Educ. of Carroll Cnty., Civil Action No. ELH-16-4055
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • September 17, 2019
    ...42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12165; and public accommodations, under Title III, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12182-12189." A Helping Hand, LLC v. Balt. Cty., Md., 515 F.3d 356, 361 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 516-17 (2004)).12 The ADA contains five titles: Title I, Employment; Title II, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
209 cases
  • Mary's House, Inc. v. State, No. 1:12cv169.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • September 30, 2013
    ...10.) Recovering from substance abuse addiction is “unquestionably” an impairment under the ADA. A Helping Hand, LLC v. Balt. Cnty., Md., 515 F.3d 356, 367 (4th Cir.2008). It is also an impairment under section 504 of the RA, which defines “disability” with reference to the ADA, 29 U.S.C. § ......
  • Chamberlain v. Securian Fin. Grp., Inc., DOCKET NO. 3:14–cv–00453–MOC–DCK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • February 19, 2016
    ...has held that “[u]nquestionably, drug addiction constitutes an impairment under the ADA.” A Helping Hand, LLC v. Baltimore Cnty., MD , 515 F.3d 356, 367 (4th Cir.2008) (collecting cases and other authority). “However, ‘[m]erely having an impairment does not make one disabled for purposes of......
  • Md. Shall Issue, Inc. v. Hogan, Civil Case No. ELH-16-3311
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • March 31, 2019
    ...id. § 12134(a), the Attorney General has promulgated regulations implementing Title II of the ADA. See A Helping Hand, LLC v. Balt. Cty., 515 F.3d 356, 362 (4th Cir. 2008). Of relevance here, federal regulations explicitly forbid public entities from "administer[ing] a licensing or certific......
  • Courtney-Pope v. Bd. of Educ. of Carroll Cnty., Civil Action No. ELH-16-4055
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • September 17, 2019
    ...42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12165; and public accommodations, under Title III, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12182-12189." A Helping Hand, LLC v. Balt. Cty., Md., 515 F.3d 356, 361 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509, 516-17 (2004)).12 The ADA contains five titles: Title I, Employment; Title II, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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