As submitted by Chicago, Myers purchased property in Chicago with the intention to lease it out to a fraternity chapter attending Loyola University. The property was zoned RT-4, which is a residential district that permits group living, specifically permitting fraternities by special use permit. This zone district also permits covenant and monastery group living as-of-right. A fraternity resides in a RT-4 zoned house down the street from Myers’ property, but does not have a special use permit, as that fraternity house is a nonconforming use established prior to the creation of the more restrictive zoning language. Myers’ was told by City officials that he needed a special use permit, and alleges that the same City officials told him he would be denied. Myers’ never sought the permit.
Myers’ claims that his equal protection rights were violated as he would be treated differently than the existing fraternity down the street. The City disputes Myers’ claim, asserting that Myers’ is not similarly situated to the existing fraternity. The court provided that for Myers’ to proceed on his “class of one” theory, Myers would need to show “he was arbitrarily or irrationally targeted for unfavorable treatment.” Thus, Myers would need to show he was intentionally, and without a rational basis, treated differently than similarly situated parties. The court found Myers’ equal protection claim invalid as Myers failed to establish whether he was similarly situated to the existing fraternity house. Further, the court found Myers’s second claim, that the fraternity seeking to lease his property is religious and thus could qualify as a monastery, further damages his class-of-one claim, as Myers failed to adequately show the existing fraternity house is treated as a monetary. In any event, the court found the City’s decision to treat Myers differently had a rational basis – the other use was grandfathered in. Myers’ claims that an Alderman acted vindictively and with ill-will could not safe Myers’ cause of action
Myers also claimed that he does not need to obtain the special use permit because the fraternity’ use of the property would be classified as a monastery, which is permitted as-of-right. The City asserts that Myers’ cannot show that the City lacked a rational basis for their disagreement. The court agreed with the City, finding Myers failed to show the City acted irrationally in determining Myers’ prospective use would not qualify as a monastery.
Myers v. Chicago, 2012 WL 4009694 (U.S.D.C., N.D. Ill., Sept. 12, 2012).
This opinion can be accessed here.