"He cannot draw on the neighbors' common opposition to his plans as evidence of a racist conspiracy," Dow wrote. "There is a difference between saying, effectively — or, in this case, literally — 'not in my back yard' and opposing someone's plans to build a house because of their national origin."
Sheikh's claims against the city were more extensive. In the 17 counts in the lawsuit, he asserted the zoning board made demands of him that overstepped its jurisdiction, such as dictating design and engineering matters. He also claimed the city retaliated against him for the filing of the suit by not voting on the lot consolidation.
Many of the claims against the city have been dismissed, according to court records, though the one claiming racial and religious discrimination still stands.
The judge in the case has warned Sheikh, however, that he will need "sufficient evidence to support his remaining claims."
Sheikh said he still doesn't understand why his lots, zoned residential, aren't suitable for the home he wants to build.
"All this time is costing us thousands of dollars for attorneys, architects and surveyors," Sheikh said. "It's not a church, it's not a synagogue, it's not a homeless shelter, it's not a shopping center. This is not a small lot."
Elrod maintains that the zoning board's review period was relatively brief, given the number of changes Sheikh's plans went through.
"It's not unusual when you have an applicant who has submitted multiple revisions," Elrod said. "He sought a lot of variations to put a particular plan in."
It wasn't the first time Sheikh had sued over property-related matters. He acknowledged twice suing the city of Chicago. One suit, he said, was over a special-use permit for a South Side gas station. Another time, after he was cited by the city for municipal code violations, he sued to challenge the fines he incurred, court records show.
Elrod said Sheikh no longer needs variances to build his home since he bought the fifth lot but simply "hasn't tried" to pursue that since the purchase.
Sheikh said he still believes that the city's setback requirements would preclude he and his wife from building the home they want. And, six years into their ordeal, his wife said, he has soured on the neighborhood and no longer wants to live there.