October 17 Update: Federal Court Schedule

Thursday, October 17, 2013

At long last we have something to report to you regarding the court case re the lights for Blanchet’s stadium:
As we have previously reported, the case is now before federal court.  After a few months of technical discussion amongst the various attorneys and the court, we have now received the tentative court schedule, described under the heading “Tentative Court Schedule” below.
Legal Status Summary:

  1. The city’s DPD originally ruled in Blanchet’s favor – that the lighting could proceed allowing use of lights up to 6 nights per week during fall and spring totaling 119 nights per year. We appealed to the city’s Hearing Examiner.
  2. The city’s Hearing Examiner ruled in our favor on July 17 that the variance to allow the lighting was contrary to city code;  the proposed lighting could not proceed.
  3. Blanchet (BB) and the Archbishop appealed by filing a suit against the city, essentially alleging that (a) the Hearing Examiner’s decision was in error and (b) the City’s land use code violates a federal law entitled “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000” (RLUIPA).
    RLUIPA is a federal law stating, amongst other things, that “No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious assembly or institution on less than equal terms with a nonreligious assembly or institution.”  BB is arguing that they are being treated unfairly.
  4. Because the case involves federal law, the case has been transferred to Federal District Court.
  5. The city’s attorney is taking the lead in defending the city. Since the case affects our neighborhood Concerned Blanchet Neighbors (CBN) is an additional party and our attorney is vigorously defending our neighborhood’s interests.

Tentative Court Schedule:

  1. Bishop Blanchet files its opening brief on November 12.
  2. CBN and City file a response and a motion to dismiss the suit on December 17.
  3. BB files a reply/response on January 21, 2014
  4. CBN and City file their reply on February 4, 2014
  5. BB replies, if needed, on February 14. This is also approximately the date that the judge decides if he will call for oral argument or issue a decision based only on the briefs.
  6. Current speculation: probably no decision until March, 2014 at the earliest.

Because of the complexity of the legal issues and the length of the schedule, additional funds would help.
Our attorney can limit his work to match the funds we currently have on hand in our trust account and is striving to do so, but some additional funds would allow him to spend more time to more fully address the case.  More information regarding contributions is at http://blanchetneighbors.com/contribute