Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 11, 2016

Fed. Dist. Court in FL Denies Summary Judgment on Case Involving a Request for a Reasonable Accommodation under the FHA and ADA for Residential Treatment Facility

Plaintiff Lincoln Rock, LLC brought an action against Defendant City of Tampa for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) arising from the City’s denial of Lincoln Rock’s request for a SU-II permit to allow Lincoln Rock to operate a Residential Treatment Facility (“RTF”) in a west Tampa neighborhood for people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. In this case, Lincoln Rock moved for summary judgment on its claim that the City’s denial of the SU-II permit was motivated by an intent to discriminate against people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.

Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the City, the court found that the record reflected facts that the neighborhood opposition to Lincoln Rock’s application were legitimate land use concerns. Here, some neighbors were concerned about noise, traffic, and security. Despite the fact that some neighbors made comments that could be interpreted as discriminatory, a number of neighbors made legitimate non-discriminatory comments in opposition to the application. Moreover, the record was disputed on the issue of whether any discriminatory animus on the part of the neighbors significantly motivated the City Council’s vote to reject Lincoln Rock’s application. Lincoln Rock’s representatives were unable to adequately address certain concerns regarding security at the facility. Specifically, a councilmember asked for information regarding staffing; patient-to-staff ratios; crisis intervention protocol; and security, and received vague answers from Lincoln Rock’s representatives in response.

The Court also concluded that the record was disputed with respect to any request for a reasonable accommodation, since it did not appear that Lincoln Rock requested a change or variance of a City Code, rule, or zoning ordinance as a “reasonable accommodation” to allow Lincoln Rock to operate. Moreover, the record was disputed on the issue of whether any such accommodation request was “reasonable,” in light of the numerous factual issues regarding whether the proposed RTF was complimentary to the surrounding land use. Finally, the City brought forth evidence that Lincoln Rock failed to adequately address concerns about health, safety, and general welfare. The court therefore found denied Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the denial of its reasonable accommodation requests.

Lincoln Rock, LLC v City of Tampa, 2016 WL 6299814 (MD FL. 10/16/16)


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