Settlement with Fair Housing Justice Center and
Westchester Residential Opportunities.
Keane & Beane, P.C., the Town’s attorneys, are recommending that the Town Board and the Board of Directors of the Blue Mountain Housing Development Corporation, Inc. (Blue Mountain), the Town’s affordable housing affiliate, agree to a settlement of claims brought against the Town and Blue Mountain alleging that the existence of certain workforce and residency preferences in the Town Code’s middle-income dwelling unit law have had a disparate impact against persons of a certain race. The background is as follows: on July 26, 2017, plaintiffs Fair Housing Justice Center, Inc. (FHJC) and Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. (WRO) filed a complaint in federal court alleging the claims summarized above against the Town and Blue Mountain. The Town and Blue Mountain have denied the allegations and deny any wrongdoing and have taken the position that entering into the settlement is not to be construed as an admission of liability, or an acknowledgement that there is any merit to the allegations. The Town and Blue Mountain further assert that they have taken numerous actions to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and promote fair and affordable housing in the Town. Under the terms of the proposed settlement agreement link the Town would agree to amend the Town’s Zoning Code with respect to middle-income housing to eliminate the preferences and provide certain incentives for middle-income housing developments in the Town, key staff would be required to undergo certain training and certain aspects of the middle income housing program, including the affirmative marketing plan for middle-income dwelling units, would be administered with the assistance of Housing Action Council, an agency experienced in administering affordable housing programs. There is a monetary component to the settlement, the cost of which is not being borne by taxpayers. In fact, the settlement will result in savings as it is anticipated that the costs to litigate this matter, even if the Town were successful, would far exceed the proposed settlement.