Trial date set in Huntington housing bias suit

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The trial for a housing discrimination lawsuit against the Town of Huntington is scheduled to begin Feb. 18, but officials said Thursday that settlement talks are ongoing.

The suit, filed in 2011 by the NAACP's Huntington chapter and the Fair Housing in Huntington Committee, alleges that a proposed affordable housing development in Melville discriminates against minorities and families because it calls for the sale of one-bedroom units. Fair Housing has since dropped out of the suit.

The town board decided in December not to accept a proposed settlement and voted to continue negotiations.

Town spokesman A.J. Carter said Thursday that the trial will begin in U.S. District Court in Central Islip with opening statements and the NAACP starting to present its case.

Manhattan attorney Christopher Campbell, who is representing the NAACP, said Thursday that the town gave it a formal counteroffer, marked confidential. Campbell declined to give specifics but said "we have anticipated what it would be."

"I don't see this getting resolved before the trial," Campbell said.

Carter also wouldn't discuss the counteroffer.

"The town does not discuss litigation . . . the town is engaging in ongoing discussions," he said.

In August, the town board was slated to vote on a proposed settlement, but it was pulled and never acted upon. The proposed settlement publicly discussed would have included 117 rental units: 77 one-bedroom, 34 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom.

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The dispute -- which began in 2002 -- centers on whether affordable multi-bedroom rental apartments or one-bedroom owned units should be built on a vacant 8.1-acre site on Ruland Road, owned by the developer of the luxury senior complex Greens at Half Hollow.

The Ruland Road units were intended to offset a lack of non-age-restricted, affordable housing acknowledged when the luxury development on Altessa Boulevard in Melville was approved in 2000.

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