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Gilead Community Services, Inc. v. Town of Cromwell

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 20, 2019

GILEAD COMMUNITY SERVICES, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TOWN OF CROMWELL, et al., Defendants.

          RULING AND ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Gilead Community Services, Inc. (“Gilead”), Rainbow Housing Corp. (“Rainbow Housing”), and the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Inc. (collectively “Plaintiffs”) sued the Town of Cromwell (“Town”); Vincent “Enzo” Faienza and Anthony Salvatore individually and in their official capacities; and Jillian Massey in her official capacity. Compl., ECF No. 1 (Apr. 17, 2017).

         Plaintiffs brought claims that the Town of Cromwell and the named officials (collectively “Defendants”) violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq. (“FHA”), and its implementing regulations, 24 C.F.R. Part 100; the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq. (“ADA”), and its implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 35; and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (“Section 504”), and its implementing regulations, 24 C.F.R. Part 8. Id. ¶ 1. Plaintiffs later moved, and the Court granted them leave, to amend their Complaint to add retaliation claims under 42 USC §§ 3617 and 3604(f)(2). Am. Compl., ECF No. 57-1 (June 22, 2018). Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants' actions “resulted in the denial of housing to Gilead's clients, who are people with disabilities, injured Gilead's reputation, finances and ability to assist its clients. . . caused [the Connecticut Fair Housing Center] to divert scarce resources to address this discrimination and frustrated [the Connecticut Fair Housing Center]'s mission of ensuring equal access to housing for all.” Id. ¶ 1.

         Presently before the Court are Defendants' initial and supplemental motions for summary judgment, Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. (“Defs.' Mot.”), ECF No. 75 (Dec. 7, 2018); Defs.' Suppl. Mot. for Summ. J. (“Defs.' Suppl. Mot.”), ECF No. 110 (July 8, 2019); and Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, Pls.' Partial Mot. for Summ. J. (“Pls.' Mot, ”), ECF No. 76 (Dec. 7, 2018), following this Court's Order sua sponte reconsidering and vacating its earlier ruling and order, Order, ECF No. 129 (Oct. 15, 2019).

         For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 75, is DENIED, Defendant's supplemental motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 110, is DENIED, and Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, ECF No. 76, is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Parties

         Gilead, a not-for-profit organization, seeks to provide housing and community-based services to individuals with disabilities in the state of Connecticut. Pls.' Statement of Material Facts ¶ 1 (“Pls.' SOMF”), ECF No. 77 (Dec. 7, 2018). “Since 1968, Gilead has offered residential housing services to thousands of individuals with mental illnesses and other disabilities in Middlesex County, Connecticut.” Id. ¶ 9. Rainbow Housing Corporation is a “sister not-for-profit corporation that owns and manages Gilead's real estate assets.” Id. ¶ 2. Connecticut Fair Housing Center is a “statewide not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to ensure that all people have access to the housing of their choice throughout the state of Connecticut free from discrimination.” Id. ¶ 4.

         Vincent “Enzo” Faienza is Mayor of the Town of Cromwell. Id. ¶ 6. Anthony Salvatore is Town Manager for the Town of Cromwell. Pls.' SOMF Ex. 8, ECF No. 77-8 (Salvatore Dep. at 20:1-4). Before becoming Town Manager, Mr. Salvatore served as the Town of Cromwell's Chief of Police. Id. 41:7-14. From February until August 2015, Mr. Salvatore served as both the Cromwell Chief of Police and Acting Town Manager. Id. He became Town Manager in August 2015. Id. Until July 31, 2015, Jillian Massey served as the Zoning Enforcement Officer for the Town of Cromwell. Pls.' SOMF in Opp. to Defs.' SOMF (“Pls.' Opp. SOMF”), Ex. 27, ECF No. 86-27 (Massey Dep. at 139:6-15).

         Gilead's Reiman Drive Residence over the Spring and Summer of 2015

         On or around December 10, 2014, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (or “DMHAS”) approved an application from Gilead to operate a new community residence for men with disabilities. Pls.' SOMF ¶ 10.

         On March 25, 2015, Gilead, through Rainbow Housing, purchased a single-family house located at 5 Reiman Drive in Cromwell, Connecticut (“Reiman Drive residence”) for $352, 047.30. Id. ¶ 11; Pls.' SOMF Ex. 14, ECF No. 77-14 (Closing Documents, 5 Reiman Drive (Mar. 25, 2015)). Gilead intended to use the Reiman Drive residence as a community residence under Connecticut General Statutes § 8-3, “to serve six or fewer men who would receive mental health services from Gilead staff, ” and under the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services contract, Gilead would provide these services. Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ¶ 2 (“Defs.' SOMF”), ECF No. 75-2 (Dec. 7, 2018). “After purchasing the home, Gilead initiated renovations to prepare the home for occupancy by six of its clients, with initial occupancy to begin in May 2015.” Id. ¶¶ 4, 10.

         On March 30, 2015, Gilead's Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), Daniel Osborne, reached out to the Town of Cromwell's Acting Town Manager, Anthony Salvatore, to inform him that Gilead had purchased the property and planned to operate a community residence there. Pls.' SOMF ¶ 12. Cromwell residents had also begun reaching out to Town officials about Gilead's purchase of the Reiman Drive residence by March 30, 2015. Id.

         On March 31, 2015, Mayor Faienza stated in an e-mail to Superintendent of Schools Paula Talty, “There really is nothing we can do to stop this group home from coming to town . . . [T]hey are protected by state statute. All we can do is try to ease any concerns the residents may have.” Defs.' SOMF Ex. I-3, ECF No. 75-28 (E-mails between Enzo Faienza and Paula Talty re: “meeting” (Mar. 31, 2015)).

         Also, on March 31, 2015, a meeting took place that included Gilead, state elected officials, and Acting Town Manager Salvatore and Mayor Faienza, to discuss Cromwell residents' concerns about Gilead's plans to open the Reiman Drive residence. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 11. It is disputed whether this meeting also involved discussion of Town officials' concerns. Pls.' Opp. SOMF at 52, response to ¶ 11, ECF No. 86 (Jan. 18, 2019).

         At this meeting, they discussed holding a public forum on April 20, 2015, for Town residents to learn about Gilead and the planned community residence on Reiman Drive. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 12. It is disputed whether Gilead or Town and state officials proposed this forum, but both Gilead and Town officials ultimately agreed to hold it. Pls.' Opp. SOMF at 8 ¶ 31, 54 ¶ 12; Defs.' SOMF in Opp. to Pls.' SOMF at 10, response to ¶ 23 (“Defs.' Opp. SOMF”), ECF No. 84-2 (Jan. 18, 2019).

         The Town publicized the April 20 forum, including through an official press release “stat[ing] that representatives from Gilead and DMHAS would provide a presentation regarding the group home on Reiman.” Pls.' SOMF ¶ 24. A local newspaper, the Middletown Press, published statements by Mayor Faienza that “[i]t's important that all concerned residents come to the forum with their questions and concerns for Gilead and DMHAS. The goal of Monday night's forum is for Gilead to answer all the concerns of our residents.” Id. ¶ 25; Pls.' SOMF Ex. 23, ECF No. 77-23 (Cromwell to Hear Views on Group Home Proposed Near High School, Middletown Press News (Apr. 20, 2015)).

         On April 20, 2015, the planned forum was held. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 15; Pls.' Opp. SOMF at 9, response to ¶ 35. Ed Wenners, who at that time “was beginning his campaign to earn a seat on the Town Council, ” moderated the forum. Pls.' Opp. SOMF at 8 ¶ 32; see also Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 41, ECF No. 86-41 (E-mails between Ed Wenners and Enzo Faienza re: “FW: Cromwell Town Council” (Sept. 19, 2015)). Mayor Faienza had asked Mr. Wenners to moderate it. Pls.' Opp. SOMF at 8 ¶ 32; Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 34, ECF No. 86-34 (Wenners Dep. at 32:2-33:25)); Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 7, ECF No. 86-7 (Faienza Dep. at 111:2-112:9).

         The forum, held at the Town Hall gym, Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 28, ECF No. 86-28 (Press Release: “Gilead Group Home, ” Town of Cromwell (Apr. 20, 2015)), “lasted almost four hours. The gymnasium was at full capacity; the chairs and bleachers were all full, and people were standing on both sides of the room.” Pls.' SOMF ¶ 27.

         Various Town officials were present, including Mayor Faienza, Acting Town Manager Salvatore, and other state and local officials. Pls.' SOMF ¶ 33-38; Pls.' Opp. SOMF at 8 ¶ 35; Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 36, ECF No. 86-36 (Press Release, Town of Cromwell (Apr. 21, 2015)). “Representatives from Gilead and DMHAS provided some information about the group home and a general overview of the types of services it intended to offer to its residents.” Pls.' SOMF ¶ 28. “Over sixty audience members . . . spoke in opposition of the group home being located at” the Reiman drive address. Id. ¶ 29. “Two people spoke in support of the group home, but they were shouted over by the crowd.” Id. ¶ 30.

         Mayor Faienza spoke at the forum, stating that “the proposal is unfortunate and unfair, and we were caught totally off guard by it, ” id. ¶ 33; that the idea of restricting group homes in a town by census population, as package stores are regulated, might be “something that should be looked into, ” Pls.' SOMF Ex. 7, ECF No. 77-7 (Faienza Dep. at 156:14-24); and “Where does it end?, ” Pls.' SOMF ¶ 33. Acting Town Manager Salvatore also spoke at the forum, saying that “in my opinion, this is not the right location.” Pls.' SOMF ¶ 38. It is disputed whether any other Town officials spoke. The day after the forum, the Town issued a press release that read as follows:

As a result of a Public Forum held on the evening of April 20th at the Cromwell Town Hall, regarding the placement of a group home at 5 Reiman Drive, Cromwell residents . . . were able to listen to a presentation by Gilead and [DMHAS] followed by a question and answer period that lasted from 7 p.m. until nearly 11 p.m.
During [the forum] State and Local Officials as well as residents were also given the opportunity to express their concerns. The majority of the concerns centered around the close proximity of this residence to Cromwell Schools and the makeup of the neighborhood, which contains a number of children and teenagers.
Because of the lack of information provided by Gilead and DEHMAS [sic] based on the concerns by those in attendance, Mayor Enzo Faienza is officially and publically [sic] requesting, on behalf of the citizens of the Town of Cromwell, that Gilead consider relocating to a more suitable location.

Pls.' SOMF Ex. 28, ECF No. 77-28 (Press Release, Town of Cromwell (Apr. 21, 2015)).

         In the days following the forum, the Middletown Press published two articles about the forum and the Reiman Drive residence plans. One article quoted Mayor Faienza from the April 20 forum, Pls.' SOMF Ex. 30, ECF No. 77-30 (Jeff Mill, Cromwell Citizens, Officials Adamantly Object to Group Home, Middletown Press (Apr. 21, 2015) (“The proposal ‘is unfortunate and unfair, and we were caught totally off guard by it,' Faienza said”)); and another quoted Mayor Faienza later saying that “I feel I owe the residents of Reiman Drive that I stand up and ask Gilead to consider another alternative site, ” Pls.' SOMF Ex. 34, ECF No. 77-34 (Jeff Mill, Officials Fear Men's Transitional Home Will Affect Cromwell Families, Middletown Press (Apr. 22, 2015)).

         The day after the forum, April 21, 2015, Mayor Faienza sent an email to a resident, writing:

I wanted to have this forum so the members of Gilead and DMHAS could see the outrage and concern first hand from our residents. Everyone did a fantastic job . . . I'm hoping they reconsider completely and choose not to move forward with anything. . . Ideally I don't want anything in that neighborhood or in town at all[.]

Pls.' SOMF Ex. 35, ECF No. 77-35 (E-mails between Tina Mendes and Enzo Faienza re: “FW: Gilead Group Home” (Apr. 21, 2015)).

         After the forum, either Mayor Faienza or Acting Town Manager Salvatore (it is disputed which) “contacted Town Attorney Kari Olson and requested that [she] research whether Gilead's plans for 5 Reiman Drive constituted a community residence and whether 5 Reiman Drive would be subject to zoning regulations.” Defs.' SOMF ¶ 22. Town Attorney Olson sent an e-mail to Gilead Attorney Timothy Hollister asking for information regarding whether the Reiman Drive residence was exempt from zoning regulations. Defs.' SOMF Ex. L-1, ECF No. 75-34 (E-mails between Kari Olson and Timothy Hollister re: “Fw: Gilead” (May 1, 2015)).

         On May 5, 2015, a special executive session of the Town Council took place. In a May 4, 2015 e-mail responding to a resident who had sent a news article about an incident that had occurred at another group home in Connecticut, Mayor Faienza said that he had called the session himself, stating that “[t]he Salem issue really highlights all our concerns regarding this group home. I have called a special executive session meeting of the Council for tomorrow night.

         I'm also trying to get our town attorney there.” Pls.' SOMF Ex. 37, ECF No. 77-37 (E-mails between Rob Latulippe and Enzo Faienza re: “Fwd: Safeguards” (May 4, 2015)). Town Attorney Olson did attend that meeting. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 23. The Town Council also approved filing a petition with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (“DPH”) at that meeting. Id.

         On May 6, 2015, Attorney Olson, on behalf of the Town, petitioned the Commissioner of the DPH to deny Gilead authority to install a community residence at 5 Reiman Drive on the basis that pursuant to General Statutes § 19a-507b(c), Gilead was required to apply for a license to operate a community residence. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 24; Defs.' SOMF Ex. L-3, ECF No. 75-36 (Anthony Salvatore and Kari Olson, Town of Cromwell, Petition to Deny Proposed Community Residence (May 6, 2015)). The Town also issued a press release:

As a result of Gilead Community Services attempting to install another community residence in the Town of Cromwell, Acting Town Manager Anthony Salvatore, with the support of Mayor Enzo Faienza and the Town Council, petitioned the Commissioner of Public Health to deny Gilead Community Services authority to install another community residence in the Town of Cromwell.

Pls.' SOMF Ex. 39, ECF No. 77-39 (Press Release, Town of Cromwell (May 13, 2015)). Mayor Faienza reportedly said, “What we are against is the idea of having this group home in this particular neighborhood.” Pls.' SOMF Ex. 40, ECF No. 77-40 (Cromwell Petitions State about Gilead Group Home Location, Middletown Press (May 14, 2015)).

         On May 15, 2015, Mayor Faienza sent an e-mail to a Town resident stating that “[w]e are pounding Gilead and DPH is spinning right now. We will keep [the] pressure on, let's keep our fingers crossed.” Pls.' SOMF Ex. 41, ECF No. 77-41 (E-mails between Rob Latulippe and Enzo Faienza re: “Fwd: Group Home Update” (May 15, 2015)). The individual responded, “Not to sound like an ass. But - awesome.” Id.

         On June 15, 2015, the Connecticut Department of Public Health issued a letter to the Town stating that it was not taking any action against Gilead in response to the Town's petition because Gilead did not require a license under Connecticut General Statutes § 19a-507b(c) to operate the Reiman Drive residence. Pls.' SOMF Ex. 42, ECF No. 77-42 (Letter from Antony Casagrande, General Counsel, Conn. Dep't of Health to Kari Olson Regarding Petition to Deny Proposed Community Residence (June 15, 2015) (“June 15, 2015 Casagrande Letter”)).

         On June 25, 2015, at 8:22 p.m., Town Attorney Olson sent an e-mail to Mayor Faienza, Acting Town Manager Salvatore, and Michael Zizka, attaching a memorandum dated June 22, 2015, and addressed to the Town Council. Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 61, ECF No. 86-61 (Mem. from Kari Olson to Town of Cromwell Town Council Regarding Gilead's Proposed Community Residence (June 22, 2015) (“June 22, 2015 Olson Memo”)).

         The memo stated that “[t]he forgoing memorandum reflects that any success in litigating over Gilead's new group home is far from certain, ” and that by pursuing the petition further “the Town may be criticized for attempting to shut out those in need of rehabilitation.” June 22, 2015 Olson Memo at 8. Town Attorney Olson also stated that “[n]otwithstanding all of these hurdles, it is my understanding that you wish to pursue this challenge vigorously and despite the knowledge that the challenge may fail.” Id.

         Town Attorney Olson also exchanged e-mails with Mayor Faienza and Acting Town Manager Salvatore on June 25, 2015, stating that she “would like to send a warning letter to Tim Hollister (Gilead's Attorney) regarding the anticipated zoning violations.” Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 76, ECF No. 86-76 (E-mails among Kari Olson, Enzo Faienza, Anthony Salvatore, and Re Matus re: “RE: Remain [sic] Dr.” (June 25, 2015, 1:28pm)).

         Town Attorney Olson sent a letter to Gilead's attorney Hollister, attaching the June 15, 2015 Casagrande Letter and stating that the Town of Cromwell understood the Connecticut Department of Public Health's decision to mean that the Reiman Drive residence was not a community residence entitled to zoning exemptions under Connecticut General Statutes 8-3e. Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 78, ECF No. 86-78 (letter from Kari Olson to Tim Hollister, Re: “Gilead Community Services” (June 25, 2015)). Ms. Olson's letter stated that, as a result, the Town of Cromwell would be issuing a Cease and Desist Order to Gilead for operating a group facility at 5 Reiman Drive in violation of town zoning laws. Id.

         On June 29, 2015, the Town filed a motion with the Connecticut Department of Public Health to reconsider their decision that Gilead did not require a license to operate the Reiman Drive residence. Pls.' SOMF Ex. 43, ECF No. 77-43 (Anthony Salvatore, Town of Cromwell, Mot. for Reconsideration of Decision on Petition to Deny Proposed Comm. Residence (June 29, 2015) (“Town Mot. to Reconsider Petition”)).

         On July 1, 2015, the Town issued a “Notice of Violation/Cease & Desist Order” regarding 5 Reiman Drive (“Reiman Drive Cease & Desist Order”) to Steve Bull, President of Rainbow. Pls.' SOMF Ex. 44, ECF No. 77-44 (Reiman Drive Cease & Desist Order (July 1, 2015)). Jillian Massey, the Town Zoning Enforcement Officer, signed the Cease & Desist Order and copied Mr. Salvatore on the Order. Pls.' SOMF ¶ 60.

         The Order stated that Rainbow Housing “appear[ed] to be operating or allowing the operation of a rooming house / halfway house or similar venture at 5 Reiman Drive without first obtaining proper zoning permits, ” and that failure to comply would result in penalties including the accrual of fines of $150 per day. Pls.' SOMF ¶ 61; Reiman Drive Cease & Desist Order.

         The next day, on Gilead's behalf, Mr. Hollister sent Town Attorney Olson a letter in response to receipt of the Cease & Desist Order. Pls.' SOMF Ex. 46; ECF No. 77-46 (Letter from Timothy Hollister to Kari Olson (July 2, 2015)). Mr. Hollister's letter stated that Gilead's intended disabled residents and staff were protected under state and federal Fair Housing Acts and requested rescission of the Cease & Desist Order. Id. at 3.

         On July 7, 2015, Mr. Hollister, Mr. Osborne, Town Attorney Olson, Acting Town Manager Salvatore, and one other Town representative met at Town Hall to discuss issues regarding the Reiman Drive residence. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 40.

         On that same day, July 7, 2015, Gilead placed its first client at the Reiman Drive residence. Id. ¶ 41.

         On July 8, 2015, Ms. Massey advised Mr. Bull that the Reiman Drive Cease & Desist Order was being rescinded, with the understanding that no more than two residents would be placed in the home. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 42; Pls.' SOMF Ex. 49, ECF No. 77-49 (Letter from Jillian Massey to Steve Bull re: Notice of Violation/Cease and Desist Order for 5 Reiman Drive, Cromwell (July 8, 2015)). On July 8, Town Attorney Olson also sent an e-mail to Mr. Hollister, stating that, “as you know, we are not waiving the right to issue a new cease and desist upon your notification that more than 2 persons have moved in or if the Town otherwise deems it is justified based upon the facts, the law and the Town's regulations.” Pls.' SOMF Ex. 48, ECF No. 77-48 (E-mails between Timothy Hollister and Kari Olson, re: “Checking in on the cease and desist” (July 8, 2015)).

         It is disputed whether the two-resident limit was Gilead's idea or a Town demand. Defs.' Opp. SOMF at 27, response to ¶ 64; Pls.' Opp. SOMF at 31-33 ¶123-126, at 72, response to ¶ 39, at 73, response to ¶ 42. The Reiman Drive Cease & Desist Order was the second Cease & Desist order the Town had issued since January 1, 2012, the first being to another community residence for people with disabilities. Pls.' SOMF ¶ 65; Pls.' SOMF Ex. 50, ECF No. 77-50 (Cease & Desist Order for 9 Elm Street (Feb. 10, 2014)).

         On July 14, 2015, Town Assessor Shawna Baron informed Acting Town Manager Salvatore that she had “just received an exemption application from the Group Home, ” and asking, “We should meet to discuss this?” Pls.' Suppl. Statement Mat. Facts (“Pls.' Suppl. SOMF”) Ex. 38, ECF No. 114-38 (E-mails between Shawna Baron and Anthony Salvatore re: “Group home” (July 14, 2015)). Mr. Salvatore requested that Ms. Baron send him a list of other group homes in Cromwell and whether they were tax exempt and taxable. Id.

         On July 15, 2015, Gilead placed a second resident at the Reiman Drive residence. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 49.

         On July 16, 2015, the Connecticut Department of Public Health wrote a letter to Mr. Osborne advising him that the department had found violations of Connecticut regulations and/or statutes at another Gilead property, informing Mr. Osborne that he could dispute the violations until July 21, 2015, and asking Mr. Osborne to “[p]lease address each violation with a prospective plan of correction . . .” Defs.' SOMF Ex. D-1, ECF No. 75-15 (letter from DPH to Dan Osborne (July 16, 2015)).

         Also, on July 16, 2015, the Town of Cromwell issued a letter to Rainbow Houisng, informing it that the Town needed additional documents, including the “estimated average length of stay of residents, ” before it could consider its exemption request. Defs.' SOMF Ex. Q-1, ECF No. 75-52 (Letter from Shawna Baron to Rainbow Housing Requesting Additional Documentation for Tax Exemption (July 16, 2015)).

         On July 19, 2015, one of the two residents of the Reiman Drive residents walked away from 5 Reiman Drive around 6:45 p.m., Defs.' SOMF ¶ 51, and later found in Hartford around 10:30 p.m. Id. Gilead prepared an internal review report on the incident, identifying action steps to ensure that [the] areas [of weakness in responding to the incident were] addressed fully and effectively going forward.” Defs.' SOMF Ex. C-1, ECF No. 75-12 (Phoenix Home Elopement Incident - ACTION PLAN (July 19, 2015)).

         On July 21, 2015, the Middletown Press published an article which quoted the police as stating that the client had “a history of substance abuse and . . . assaultive behaviors in the past, ” and disclosing the individual's medical diagnoses. Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 86, ECF No. 86-86 (Jeff Mill, Gilead Client Who Walked Away Prompts New Interest in Cromwell Group Home, Middletown Press (July 21, 2015)). Acting Town Manager Salvatore was also quoted as saying that “[t]he town has been and continues to be opposed to that residence being at that location as we did not feel that is an appropriate site. . . This incident only serves to underscore those concerns.” Id.

         Throughout July 2015, Town residents exchanged e-mails about the Reiman Drive residence and engaged in conversation on a Facebook group page entitled “Reiman Strong.” Pls.' Opp. SOMF Exs. 97, 98, 99, 100, ECF Nos. 86-97, 86-98, 86-99, 86-100 (E-mails discussing Gilead and discussing the content of planned posts on the “Reiman Strong” Facebook page about Gilead (July 21-28, 2015)). One resident forwarded these e-mails to Mayor Faienza immediately after they were sent. See, e.g., Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 97, ECF No. 86-97 (E-mail from Rob Latulippe to Enzo Faienza, re: “Fwd: Re: Just for the nieghbors [sic] . . .” (July 27, 2015) (forwarding an email to Mayor Faienza four minutes after Diane Uccello had originally sent it to multiple individuals)). In one e-mail, the same resident states that he had “spoken with the Town” and “the [T]own agrees. It's time to make some noise… It's time to *not* remain quiet.” Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 100, ECF No. 86-100 (E-mails forwarded to Enzo Faienza from Rob Latulippe re: “RE: Time to make some phone calls and send some emails” (July 20, 2015)).

         On July 21, 2015, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services sent a letter to “5 Reiman Drive Neighbors, ” in response to the e-mails from Cromwell residents living in proximity to 5 Reiman Drive,

DMHAS is aware of the situation described in the correspondence received and is reviewing it with Gilead staff. Gilead adherence to established policies and protocols related to client safety will be included in the review. No. new residents will be admitted to this housing until the review is complete and any potential issues are addressed.

Defs.' SOMF Ex. R-1, ECF No. 75-55 (letter from Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Commissioner, DMHAS, to 5 Reiman Drive Neighbors, re: “Cromwell Supported Housing Concerns” (July 21, 2015)).

         “On July 24, 2015, Mr. Osborne emailed the Gilead Board of Directors, indicating an intent to ‘move forward with the implementation of [the program at 5 Reiman Drive] but advising the Board that DMHAS was conducting a “special review” of all Gilead programs and would be making unannounced visits.'” Defs.' SOMF ¶ 62.

         On July 25, 2015, Gilead Board Member Frances Ludwig sent an e-mail to Mr. Osborne, stating:

I think we will want to take a hard look at whether or not [the walkaway] incident has made things so toxic that to persist with [the residence program] on Reiman Drive will just keep the entity alive and make it difficult to ever recover with lots of potential collateral damage to the brand and relationships.

Defs.' SOMF ¶ 63.

         On July 31, 2015, Gilead Director of Finance Kathy Townsend responded to an e-mail from Town Assessor Baron, regarding the Town's request for additional documentation for Gilead's tax exemption application, stating that the “estimated average length of resident stay is unknown.” Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 27, ECF No. 114-27 (Letter from Kathy Townsend to Shawna Baron (July 31, 2015)).

         On August 3, 2015, a Cromwell police incident report was filed stating that a “for sale” real estate yard sign had been placed in front of 5 Reiman Drive by an unknown person around 1:25 a.m. Defs.' Opp. SOMF Ex. J, ECF No. 77-62 (Police Report (Aug. 3, 2015, 9:31 a.m.)). “By 9:31 AM, approximately one hour after being called to the incident, the officer had determined that he was unable to obtain any other investigatory leads, returned to the police station, and closed the case.” Pls.' SOMF ¶ 81.

         On August 7, 2015, Town Assessor Baron sent a letter to Gilead Director of Finance Townsend denying Gilead's tax exemption application. Pls.' SOMF Ex. 52, ECF No. 77-52 (Letter from Shawna Baron to Kathy Townsend, re: “Property Tax Exemption Application” (Aug. 7, 2015) (“Based on the information you provided, it does not appear that you meet the criteria for tax exemption under [Connecticut General Statutes] § 12-81(7)”).

         On August 25, 2015, Mr. Osborne and Gilead Board President Ms. Ludwig wrote a letter to Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon:

After a significant amount of thoughtful consideration, Gilead and its Board of Directors have decided that it is in the best interest of the individuals we serve that we discontinue [the program at 5 Reiman Drive.]
As a result, we are formally requesting that the specific portion of the contract between Gilead and DMHAS relating to the provision of services through the ‘Phoenix Home Program' be discontinued at this time.

Defs.' SOMF Ex. C-2, ECF No. 75-13 (Letter from Dan Osborne and Fran Ludwig to Miriam Delphin-Rittmon (Aug. 25, 2015)). On August 31, 2015, Mr. Osborne met with Mayor Faienza and Town Manager Salvatore and informed them of Gilead's decision to close the Reiman Drive residence. Defs.' SOMF ¶ 69. On the same day, the Town issued a press release stating that the decision to close the Reiman Drive residence

was made by Gilead after much discussion and meetings with Town Officials and residents of the Town who were concerned with the location of the Group Home because of the makeup of the neighborhood and the proximity to our schools. . . Town Manager Anthony Salvatore and Mayor Enzo Faienza applaud Gilead's decision to relocate the Group Home and thank them for listening to the concerns of Town Officials and the residents of Reiman Drive, that this was not the most favorable neighborhood for them to establish a community residence.

Pls.' SOMF Ex. 65, 77-65 (Press Release, Town of Cromwell, “Closure of Home” (Aug. 31, 2015). Mayor Faienza posted the press release on his campaign website eight days later. Pls.' SOMF Ex. 66, ECF No. 77-66 (Website Post, Enzo for Cromwell (Sept. 8, 2015)).

         On August 31, Mayor Faienza also sent an e-mail to Town Council members, thanking them for “staying the course on this very difficult issue we were dealing with.” Pls.' SOMF ¶ 85; Pls.' SOMF Ex. 67, ECF No. 77-67 (E-mail from Enzo Faienza to Town Council re: “Gilead Group Home” (Aug. 31, 2015)). Even though they “knew it was going to be a tough battle and we were in uncharted waters. . . In the end we prevailed for the greater good and safety of our residents.” Id. One council member responded, “WHAT TERRIFIC NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 108, ECF No. 86-108 (Email from Mertie Terry to Town Council re: “Gilead Group Home” (Aug. 31, 2015).

         Mayor Faienza also exchanged e-mails with a constituent, stating, in part:

This was a long battle but it was a fight this Town Council was ready to fight to [the] very end for. . . . We knew we were in uncharted waters but all we could do is keep the pressure on and pray for a positive outcome[, ] and that is what happened.

Pls.' SOMF Ex. 68, ECF No. 77-68 (E-mails between Larry Callahan and Enzo Faienza re: “Thank you from Reiman Drive” (Sept. 3, 2015)).

         On September 9, 2015, the Town Council held a meeting where town resident Diane Uccello spoke: “We always knew that you stood behind us and were working very hard on our behalf. . . Thank you for giving our children their neighborhood back.” Pls.' SOMF Ex. 69, ECF No. 77-69 (Cromwell Town Council Meeting excerpt, Diane Uccello speech (Sept. 9, 2015)).

         Gilead's Review of Cromwell's Denial of Tax Exempt Status to 5 Reiman Drive

         On September 20, 2015, in response to e-mails from Gilead Financial Director Townsend, Town Assessor Baron reiterated that the property had been denied tax exempt status and that she would not reconsider the denial “[s]ince the length of stay [for residents wa]s unknown.” Pls.' SOMF Ex. 55, ECF No. 77-55 (E-mails between Shawna Baron and Dan Osborne and Kathy Townsend re: “Letter Requesting Additional Information” (Sept. 8-21, 2015)).

         On February 22, 2016, Rainbow Housing received a Tax Collector's Demand Notice for $8, 755.75 in taxes due on 5 Reiman Drive. Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 34, ECF No. 114-34 (Tax Collector's Demand Notice (Feb. 22, 2016)).

         On April 29, 2016, Town Assessor Baron forwarded a letter she had sent Mr. Osborne on September 8, 2015, to Town Manager Salvatore. Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 95, ECF No. 86-95 (Email from Shawna Baron to Anthony Salvatore re: “FW: Letter requesting additional information” (Apr. 29, 2016)). A few minutes later, Ms. Baron forwarded the Reiman Drive tax exemption denial letter to Mr. Salvatore, stating:

Let me know if you need anything additional[.] I would highly recommend that if the Council somehow waives their taxes that it is shown in a way that we did not set precedence for any taxpayer not to pay their taxes in the future. It would be best for them not to waive the taxes in my opinion.

Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 94, ECF No. 86-94 (E-mail from Shawna Baron to Anthony Salvatore re: “RE - Gilead Exemption Application Denied” (Apr. 29, 2016)).

         The minutes from the Gilead Board Meeting Minutes held on May 2, 2016, indicated that Mr. Osborne had a meeting with Town of Cromwell officials about the denial of the tax exempt status of 5 Reiman Drive. Pls.' Opp. SOMF Ex. 96, ECF No. 86-96 (minutes, Gilead Board Meeting (May 2, 2016)).

         On July 20, 2016, Gilead Attorney Beth Critton sent a letter to Town Assessor Baron stating, in part, that “Gilead . . . has asked us to assist it in learning more about the Town's denial of Gilead's tax exemption application relating to 5 Reiman Road. I would like to meet with you in the near future to get a better understanding of your reasoning.” Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 31, ECF No. 114-31 (letter from Beth Critton to Shawna Baron re: “5 Reiman Drive, Cromwell, Connecticut” (July 20, 2016)). Ms. Critton sent Ms. Baron another letter on September 1, 2016, with her analysis of the relevant tax exemption statute, Connecticut General Statutes § 12-81(7), offering to provide any other information Ms. Baron needed, and asking Ms. Baron to reconsider Gilead's tax exemption application. Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 32, ECF No. 114-32 (letter from Beth Critton to Shawna Baron re: “5 Reiman Drive, Cromwell, Connecticut” (Sept. 1, 2016)).

         On September 26, 2016, Town Assessor Baron sent Ms. Critton an e-mail and wrote that “the Town Attorney reviewed all of [Gilead's] documentation and in her opinion Gilead does not meet the requirements to be exempt.” Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 33, ECF No. 114-33 (E-mail from Shawna Baron to Beth Critton re: “5 Reiman Drive, Cromwell, Connecticut” (Sept. 20, 2016)). Ms. Critton responded, reiterated her analysis, offered to provide more information, and stated that Gilead was paying “the outstanding real estate taxes under protest for the subject property at this time.” Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 40, ECF No. 114-40 (Letter from Beth Critton to Shawna Baron re: “5 Reiman Drive, Cromwell, Connecticut” (July 20, 2016)).

         On October 28, 2016, Gilead sold the house at 5 Reiman Drive for $280, 000. Pls.' SOMF Ex. 70, ECF No. 77-70 (Purchase and Sale Agreement, 5 Reiman Drive (Oct. 28, 2016)).

         The Second Gilead Property: 461 Main Street

         Gilead operated another program in a property owned by Rainbow Housing at 461 Main Street. Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 22; ECF No. 114-22 (Letters from Shawna Baron to Rainbow Housing Corp. (July 14, 2009, and June 13, 2013)). Letters from Shawna Baron in 2009 and 2013 showed that Gilead had completed the same application for tax exempt status under Connecticut General Statutes § 12-81(7), which must be completed every four years, for the 461 Main Street property in 2009 and 2013. Id.

         On October 30, 2017, Gilead submitted the required application for renewal of its tax exempt status under Connecticut General Statutes § 12-81(7) for 461 Main Street. Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 42, ECF No. 114-42 (Gilead Tax Exemption App. (submitted Oct. 30, 2017; denied Jan. 2, 2018)). Town Assessor Baron denied the application on January 2, 2018, and stated that she was “unsure what is happening at this property.” Id.; Defs.' Suppl. SOMF ¶ 9. She sent a letter to Gilead denying renewal of tax exempt status for 461 Main Street on January 5, 2018. Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 43, ECF No. 114-43 (letter from Shawna Baron to Gilead (Jan. 5, 2018)).

         On or about February 1, 2018, Gilead appealed the tax exemption denial for 461 Main Street to the Connecticut Board of Assessment Appeals (“Board”). Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 48, ECF No. 114-48 (Letter from Dan Osborne re: “461 Main Street, Cromwell, CT” (Feb. 1, 2018)).

         On March 29, 2018, the Board denied the appeal. Pls.' Suppl. SOMF Ex. 49, ECF No. 114-49 (Town of Cromwell, CT Board of Assessment Appeals, re: Rainbow ...


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