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Milwaukee-based J.C. Frazier and Northwest Funeral Chapel Inc. is taking issue with the Racine Common Council’s decision to reject a permit that had been OK’d by the plan commission that would have let them use the former Woman’s Club, 740 Lake Ave., as a funeral home.
Frazier and Northwest Funeral Chapel is claiming that the city violated its rights because there was “no rational basis for the difference in treatment” of their request versus white-owned Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home and the city’s “discrimination against plaintiffs on the basis of race was purposeful,” according to the Journal Sentinel.
Two months later, Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home, which is located across the street from the Woman’s Club, bought the property, but Thomas Meredith said he’s never used the building as a funeral home.
“It’s used as a hall,” he said. “People can rent it out for birthday parties, wedding or have luncheons there after our funerals. I was really surprised with how they came up with these facts in the lawsuit. They said we’re using this as a funeral home, which isn’t true…. why would we use it as a funeral home, we’ve already got one?”
Meredith said only two of the four plan commission members voted to approve J.C. Frazier and Northwest Funeral Chapel and there were issues around parking that remained unanswered.
“They are making it sound like it was a race issue, but if you go through the meeting minutes…it was all about parking because the Woman’s club had no parking,” Meredith said.
Racine Mayor John Dickert’s office released the following statement:
“The City of Racine City Attorney’s Office has been advised that a Complaint was filed in federal court regarding the use of a property on Lake Avenue in Racine. The Complaint has not been served upon the City, so the City of Racine cannot comment upon the lawsuit. The City of Racine denies that it illegally discriminated against any person or persons. There will be no further comment at this time.”