HINSDALE, IL — A federal judge rejected Hinsdale’s requests to throw out lawsuits that allege the village discriminated against a group home for men with addictions.

Both the U.S. Department of Justice and Trinity Sober Living have sued Hinsdale, contending the village violated the Fair Housing Act in its efforts to close Trinity at 111 N. Grant St.

Late last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettlemen rejected the village’s requests to dismiss the lawsuits. In his ruling, the judge noted the village filed a lawsuit in state court the day after Trinity’s lawyer sent a letter to the village. In the letter, the attorney said any attempt to enforce the zoning code against Trinity would be unlawful discrimination under the Fair Housing and Americans With Disabilities acts.

The judge said Trinity sought a “reasonable accommodation” under the law and that rather than advising the group to get a variance or special permit, the village immediately filed a lawsuit. In fact, the village told Trinity that a permit was unavailable, Gettleman said.

The village, the judge said, did not refer Trinity’s request to the Village Board, as the U.S. Department of Justice alleges the village has done with previous requests for accommodation.

“Under these circumstances, it was reasonable for (Trinity) to conclude that any such request was doomed from the start,” Gettleman wrote.

The judge, however, dismissed Trinity’s claim that it was the victim of the village’s retaliation, saying the group made no allegation that Hinsdale’s lawsuit was a sham or that the litigation was “frivolous” or “objectively baseless.”

The village argued the government’s lawsuit was moot because Trinity voluntarily moved out of town before the litigation was filed. However, the Department of Justice contended Trinity wants to return and is likely to be subject to the same discrimination. The judge rejected Hinsdale’s argument.

When Trinity opened in July 2019, it drew almost immediate objections from neighbors.

In response, the village called for the house’s closure, saying it was a commercial operation in a residential neighborhood. And it said the house violated the village’s rule for single-family housing zones — no more than three unrelated people in a house.

Shortly before the federal government filed its lawsuit in November, the village backed down on its argument that the group home was a commercial operation.

In early December, Village President Tom Cauley issued a statement on the Department of Justice’s lawsuit.

Last week, the Village Board approved a new policy for “reasonable accommodation” requests for group homes. In their discussion, trustees did not mention the federal lawsuits, the likely impetus for the policy.

A trial date has not been set.

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