In October of 2008 the Township approved a zoning change for a piece of property that would change the use of the property from residential to controlled commercial. Sauers, a pro se plaintiff, filed a complaint claiming that the Township overlooked his rights and the law when they made the zoning decision. Although the court was unsure what the plaintiff was actually trying to allege, it concluded that the complaint raised due process claims, equal protection claims and a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Under a substantive due process claim, the plaintiff must allege that the activity of Township “shocks the conscience.” The Court found that Sauers failed to meet this test, and at most he alleged that he disagreed with the zoning change and that the Township representatives failed to answer his questions. He offered no plausible factual allegations that the defendant violated his rights. The procedural due process claim was also dismissed since Sauers failed to show that he was deprived of a protected property interest. The Court noted that complaint did not acknowledge whether the Township intended to take his property nor whether he would be unable to use a portion of his property due to the Township’s actions. The equal protection claim failed since the plaintiff did not alleged that the Township did not irrationally distinguish between similarly situated classes. Lastly, the ADA claim failed since the complaint made no mention of how his mental impairments (limited in the ability to read, write and spell) effected or has connection to the re-zoning. Although the Court denied Sauers’ motions, it gave him another opportunity to attempt to state a claim in regards to the zoning decision.
Sauers v Lower Southampton Township, 2010 WL 176858 (E.D.Pa.1/19/2010)
The opinion is available at: http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/10D0054P.pdf