Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 13, 2020

Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Equal Protection and Takings Claims Challenging the Enforcement of a Village Zoning Ordinance

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Christel Van Dyke brought suit against the Village of Alsip and its building commissioner for enforcing a zoning ordinance against her and preventing her from renting out a garden apartment. While she admitted the noncompliance, she claimed that the defendants targeted her while not enforcing the ordinance against others – violating the Equal Protection Clause. Van Dyke further asserted that enforcing the ordinance against her amounted to a taking, requiring compensation. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, and Van Dyke appealed.

On appeal, Van Dyke contended that she sufficiently pleaded a class-of-one equal protection claim. Notwithstanding the fact that she had been violating the ordinance for decades, she alleged that it was unfair to target her because others in the Village were doing the same thing. Van Dyke further argued that the village official enforced the ordinance only because of a “personal vendetta” against her. The court noted that even if personal animus can sometimes be the basis for a class-of-one claim, the allegation of animus in this case did not add anything because Van Dyke cited only the selective enforcement to support it. Here, because Van Dyke admitted the prohibited conduct, and that the Village had enforced the ordinance against a third party, she did not state a class-of-one claim.

Van Dyke lastly contended that she adequately pleaded a regulatory taking because the defendants’ enforcement of the ordinance deprived her of income and rendered her rental unit “essentially worthless.” The court rejected this position, finding that the record reflected that she continued to rent the other two units in her building. Moreover, the court noted that a diminution in property value, standing alone, could not establish a taking. As such, the district court’s holding was affirmed.

Van Dyke v Village of Alsip, 2020 WL 5230356 (7th Cir. CA 9/2/2020)

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