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Skiles v. City of Reading
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
449 F. App’x 153 (2011)
In 2006 the city of Reading (the city) (defendant) enacted new zoning regulations pursuant to the mayor’s Downtown 20/20 Initiative. The initiative was intended to increase the city’s commercial activities and decrease the number of rental and boarding properties to improve the quality of life for the city’s residents. Brian Skiles (plaintiff) owned multiple residential properties and a restaurant-bar property called Daddy’s Night Club (the club). In 2007 the city informed Skiles that the club was in violation of several health and zoning regulations. The city closed the club but allowed it to reopen after Skiles rectified the violations. Skiles maintained that the city had closed the club because it catered to gay clientele. In 2008 Skiles was notified that due to new zoning regulations, the parking spaces available for one of his residential properties had been reduced. The city also incorrectly represented to individuals interested in buying Skiles’s residential properties that they were subject to single-family zoning rather than multifamily zoning. In 2009 the city notified Skiles and several other rental-property owners that the properties were subject to rezoning. Two months later, the city notified Skiles that it had made a mistake pursuant to the rezoning and gave Skiles directions to reestablish the properties’ original zoning, which Skiles failed to follow. Skiles filed an action in federal district court against the city and several city officials (collectively, the city) (defendants) on the ground that the city had conspired to and had violated his substantive-due-process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The district court dismissed the case on the ground that Skiles’s allegations were insufficient to establish a substantive-due-process violation because the city’s behavior did not shock the conscience. Skiles appealed on the ground that the district court had misconstrued his substantive-due-process violation claim as a land-use dispute and applied a higher threshold for establishing a violation. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reviewed the case.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Greenaway, J.)
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