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Monday, November 9, 2020

Court Rules on Reasonable Accommodations in Code Enforcement Case

In City of Harvard v. Nevitt, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled in favor of the City in a code enforcement case against a resident, rejecting the resident's argument that the City should have provided a reasonable accommodation for his wife's disability under the Americans' with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA).

In December 2018, a resident of the City of Harvard applied for a permit requesting the City allow him to place a two-yard-long dumpster on his property, which otherwise violated a city ordinance. The resident had met with a City code enforcement officer to request a dumpster permit, but did not submit a formal written application. The City officer denied the resident's dumpster permit request.

In January 2019, the City discovered a two-yard dumpster on the resident's property prompting the City to issue a notice of violation. By May 2019, the City issued a “notice to abate nuisance” letter to the resident about the dumpster. And between May and July 2019, the City issued seven citations to the resident for violating the City ordinance. In June 2019, the City filed a complaint in court to enforce its ordinance, alleging the resident maintained a private nuisance on his property—the two-yard-long dumpster.

At trial, the resident stated that he was denied the dumpster permit after discussing the issue with the City. They said they requested the dumpster because the resident's wife is disabled. The City code enforcement officer, however, testified that Nevitt and his wife never mentioned the wife's disability during their meeting. Instead, Nevitt's wife referenced the need for the dumpster for a home business, which she acknowledged on cross-examination. The court found the defendant guilty of violating the ordinance and imposed a $1,250 fine, plus costs. The court also found that the defendant did not notify the City of the wife's disability.

On appeal, the court upheld the trial court's ruling. The appellate court did not find evidence in the record showing proper written notice was provided to the City regarding Nevitt's wife's disability. Further, neither Nevitt nor his wife could produce copies of documentation showing they notified the City. The record indicated, however, that after the defendant placed the non-compliant dumpster on the property, the Nevitt’s standard-issued garbage cans were still being rolled to the curb for garbage collection. In sum, the appellate court agreed with the trial court's ruling in favor of the City.

Post Authored by Mike Halpin & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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