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Article posted: 3/8/2013 6:48 PM

Elgin says TLC lawsuit is about zoning, has no merit

By Elena Ferrarin

Elgin officials say a federal lawsuit filed against the city by a faith-based organization is misleading and without merit.

TLC Pregnancy Services has offered free ultrasounds to women in Elgin through a mobile facility for two years, and claims in the lawsuit filed Thursday new zoning restrictions prevent women from accessing its services.

In a news release emailed late Friday by Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall, the city says TLC and its attorneys "would have the public believe the dispute relates to the nature of the services TLC alleges it provides at its mobile ultrasound vehicle and that the city of Elgin is preventing TLC from continuing to operate its mobile ultrasound vehicle. That is not the case."

The release also names Elgin Corporation Counsel William Cogley.

According to the lawsuit, TLC began providing ultrasounds and pregnancy tests in September 2010 in Elgin parking lots, with the permission of the owners; it did so once a week for a total of 52 days a year.

Last August, the plaintiffs claim, Elgin police ordered TLC to shut down the mobile facility under an amended city ordinance that classified the vehicle as a "temporary land use" limited to four uses per year at each location.

TLC representatives claim that when they attempted to renew the annual permit, they were told that no more permits would be issued in 2012. Later, they were told they couldn't get a permit because the mobile facility had exceeded the approved number of uses, they claim.

Elgin officials called TLC "a valued member of the Elgin community."

However, the organization has to comply with zoning ordinances to use the mobile ultrasound vehicle, city officials said.

Attorney John Mauck, of Mauck & Baker, which represents TLC, dismissed the city's statement.

"Elgin has issued a long-winded defense of its abusive use of the zoning law without ever explaining what interest it has in forbidding TLC from spacing availability of its ultrasound facility to young women once a week, especially so those high school and college age women who are concerned about pregnancy can know there will be a regular, reliable location where they can get vital information and free services," he wrote via email.

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