Bryant Woods Inn, Inc. v. Howard County

124 F.3d 597 (1997)

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Bryant Woods Inn, Inc. v. Howard County

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
124 F.3d 597 (1997)

  • Written by Tanya Munson, JD

Facts

Richard Colandrea owned an 11-bedroom house in Columbia, Maryland, that he rented portions of to eight elderly individuals who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. The group home was operated by Colandrea through the for-profit corporation Bryant Woods Inn, Inc. (Bryant Woods) (plaintiff). Colandrea sought to expand the group home from eight to 15 disabled or elderly residents and applied for a zoning variance with Howard County (defendant). The county’s zoning ordinance required that any group-care facility of more than eight persons have at least one parking space for every two beds. This meant that there should be at least eight spaces for the proposed 15 residents. Colandrea’s property would only have five to six parking spaces. The Howard County planning board conducted a hearing on Colandrea’s application. The board received information that there were approximately 30 other licensed group homes in the county that had up to eight residents. The board also heard testimony from several residents that parking in the area was difficult and cars regularly overflowed from Colandrea’s driveway to the residential street. The planning board denied Colandrea’s request for a variance to expand his facility because of the adverse effects it would have on parking. The board also found that the denial of the application would not limit housing opportunities for the disabled in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) because of the availability of alternative assisted-living facilities in the county. Colandrea filed suit in circuit court through Bryant Woods and alleged that Howard County failed to make a reasonable accommodation for the handicapped in violation of the FHA. The district court found that Howard County’s refusal to make an accommodation was justified because it was not necessary under the FHA and would fundamentally alter the nature of the county’s system of land-use regulation. Bryant Woods appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Niemeyer, J.)

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