Addiction Recovery Home Sues Fall River for Alleged Housing Discrimination
FALL RIVER — A local sober home is suing the city of Fall River and its Zoning Board of Appeals for allegedly discriminating against people with disabilities, after the board denied the company a zoning variance.
In the lawsuit filed last month, Resilient Homes, LLC — which operates monitored recovery residences like the Jordan Matthew House — claims the city board violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in denying their application.
The firm had requested a zoning variance to allow them to convert a single lot with three buildings at 555 Eastern Ave. into three separate lots, asking to waive minimum yard and lot size requirements.
According to the March 13 complaint, the company was also hoping to officially change the use to allow recovery residences at the site — despite the buildings already being used as high-occupancy homes.
But instead of granting the variance, city building inspector Glenn Hathaway issued the firm a cease and desist letter, stating that the maximum allowable occupancy for the buildings was six two-bedroom units.
Resilient Homes argues in the complaint that the buildings are already being used as multi-family residences with a higher occupancy than that, so it should be officially allowed.
But the zoning board evidently disagreed in an appeal hearing in February.
Because those with addiction issues are considered to have a disability, the firm accused the city, the board, and individual board members of discrimination under the ADA by refusing to "provide reasonable accommodations" for them.
It is suing to have the cease and desist letter overturned, as well as for compensatory and punitive damages.
"The ZBA has exercised its powers to regulate land use in a way that discriminates against disabled persons without justification or cause by preventing legal occupancy of the property that is reasonable and necessary," Resilient Homes wrote in the complaint.
Representatives for the city of Fall River, its zoning board, and the board members have yet to file a response.