Judge dismisses federal lawsuit over size of Barrington house

  • A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which Barrington resident Karen McCarthy, who lives in the South Summit Street house at right, claimed village government violated her constitutional rights by permitting her neighbors to build a house larger than local law allows.

      A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which Barrington resident Karen McCarthy, who lives in the South Summit Street house at right, claimed village government violated her constitutional rights by permitting her neighbors to build a house larger than local law allows. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2017

 
 

A federal judge has dismissed a Barrington woman's lawsuit claiming village government violated her constitutional rights by allowing her neighbors to build a house larger than local law permits.

South Summit Street resident Karen McCarthy alleged a house built in 2016 and formerly owned by Kara and Adam O'Dempsey was oversized and didn't conform to Barrington's zoning law. She was seeking unspecified compensatory damages through the suit filed last year in Chicago.

However, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ruben Castillo granted Barrington's motion to dismiss McCarthy's complaint. In part, Castillo found the village didn't violate McCarthy's right to procedural due process by not requiring permit hearings for the O'Dempseys.

McCarthy's attorney, Ramsin Canon, said he and his client are disappointed by the dismissal. He said the O'Dempseys were speculative builders and "the evidence strongly suggested that the village knew about the improper size of the structure."

"Ms. McCarthy has a decadeslong history as an architect in Barrington and has always played by the rules, sometimes at great expense, only to be put on the wrong side of favoritism when it came to her own home," Canon said. "We are still reviewing the court's opinion and the relevant case law to better understand Ms. McCarthy's options."

Barrington attorney John Murphey contended in court documents that McCarthy improperly took a zoning dispute and "dressed (it) up in the trappings of constitutional law" through a federal lawsuit.

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"Federal courts have a lot to do," Murphey said, "and they don't have any interest in getting involved in local zoning matters."

According to the lawsuit, the O'Dempseys' house exceeded a permitted maximum of 6,236 "floor area square footage." Murphey said the O'Dempseys no longer own the house, which Cook County property transfer records show sold for $1.3 million in 2017.

In the July 2017 lawsuit, McCarthy claimed Barrington's issuance of construction permits for the O'Dempseys' house violated her due process rights under the 14th Amendment.

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