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Orange County Agrees to Settle Discrimination Lawsuit Filed by Builders

The developer of the Greens at Chester recently agreed to settle a discrimination suit with Orange County.

The developer of the Greens at Chester project recently agreed to a partial settlement of a federal discrimination lawsuit that will bring an end to their allegations against Orange County, but not the allegations against the Town of Chester. Back in July 2019, the developer filed a lawsuit against Orange County and the Town of Chester over claims officials “obstructed the development plans to prevent an influx of Hasidic families, in violation of the Constitution and Fair Housing Act.” Eventually, state Attorney General Letitia James joined the suit in support of the developers.

Construction cone; image courtesy of MabelAmber via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com

During the litigation process, officials with the town repeatedly denied the discrimination allegations and argued they “denied the developers building permits because their house sizes exceeded what the town approved…They issued permits for a pair of attached houses in September — the first homes in the development to be started — after the developers posted an $11 million bond for infrastructure.”

The settlement was approved earlier this week and county officials agreed to “defer any decisions about the quality and adequacy of the development’s wells to two state agencies.” Additionally, the officials pledged “to accept wastewater from the project at the county-owned treatment plant in Harriman if Chester has enough remaining allotment at the plant.” The settlement further reads:

“The County acknowledges that The Greens Development is fully approved by the County with respect to any approvals it has the power to grant.”

As part of the settlement agreement, Steve Neuhaus, the County Executive, along with the county government, have not admitted wrongdoing. They also will not pay damages to the developers. What is included in the agreement, though? For starters, the settlement, which was approved by Judge Philip Halpern on Monday, will require the county to “respond within 30 days to the developer’s applications for a ‘potential bathing or swimming facility.’” Additionally, County officials pledged “to answer within 20 days any correspondence from the developers or their consultants and respond to any phone calls within two days.”

The proposed settlement was signed last week by Jehuda Landau, the managing member of the Greens at Chester LLC, and Neuhaus signed the proposed settlement before it was filed last Friday in court.

Despite the recent agreement with the county, the suit against the town officials is still pending. When commenting on the matter, Livy Schwartz, one of the developers, said “the town has now issued permits for seven homes in all, six of which are under construction.”

Sources:

Greens at Chester developers settle federal discrimination claims against Orange County

State attorney general says she’s taking action against ‘anti-Semitic housing practices’ in Chester

 

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