Chicago lawyer says neighbors using alderman to block his home project, demands alderman's emails

By Jonathan Bilyk | Nov 29, 2016

A Chicago lawyer has taken to court his dispute with his neighbors and a Chicago alderman over his Wicker Park home construction project, asking a Cook County judge to order the city of Chicago and Alderman Joe Moreno to turn over all emails, text messages and other communications which may show whether friends of Moreno – the lawyer’s neighbors – had used the alderman to block him from installing a heated sidewalk at his house.

On Nov. 18, Ameer Ahmad, a mergers and acquisitions attorney with Greenberg Traurig, of Chicago, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Moreno and the city, demanding disclosure of the communications under the Freedom of Information Act.

The lawsuit centers on a dispute involving Ahmad and his neighbors in the 1300 block of N. Leavitt in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

In 2012, a report published by indicated Moreno had supported Ahmad’s plan to demolish a three-flat on the site and replace it with a “5,180- square-foot Parisian-style mansion.”

However, in more recent months Ahmad’s lawsuit contends his neighbors have complained to Moreno about his construction project, purportedly alleging that the work at Ahmad’s home over the last two years had damaged their property. Ahmad alleges Moreno has since moved to complicate the project, and particularly frustrating Ahmad’s attempt to install a so-called “hydronic system” to heat the sidewalk. Ahmad specifically has alleged Moreno has so far refused to sign off on a so-called “grant of privilege” Ahmad said Chicago city officials told him was required to install the sidewalk heating system.

Ahmad said he did not believe such a permit was required, as other neighbors had installed similar sidewalk heating systems without first obtaining “grants of privilege.” However, he said he applied to Moreno’s office to obtain the permit in June 2015.

In the weeks that followed, Ahmad alleges Moreno’s staff told him the alderman would not issue the permit until Ahmad resolved “alleged issues in a private dispute” between him and his neighbors, who Ahmad said are “social friends” and political supporters of Moreno.

Ahmad alleges the city of Chicago has also issued him citations at the request of Moreno’s office, which, in turn, allegedly came at the urging of Ahmad’s neighbors.

In September 2016, Ahmad’s lawsuit said he asked City Hall and Moreno’s office to supply Moreno’s electronic communications concerning Ahmad’s home construction projects. The FOIA requests purportedly indicated Ahmad believed the communications were handled via “non-City accounts.”

The lawsuit said the city and Moreno’s office have replied that they do not “maintain these records.”

Ahmad is represented in this lawsuit by attorneys Matthew Topic and Joshua Burday of the firm of Loevy & Loevy, of Chicago.

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