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Judge upholds ruling against Garden City on housing

Mary Crosson, chair of the Long Island Chapter

Mary Crosson, chair of the Long Island Chapter of New York Communities for Change, which she says has been fighting segregation in Garden City. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

A federal judge has upheld a ruling against the village of Garden City that found the village’s zoning of a property was discriminatory because it was aimed at blocking affordable housing, adversely affecting minorities.

U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt in Central Islip ruled Sept. 19, following a Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year.

The appeals court had affirmed that the village’s decision to pursue single-family town houses over multifamily housing on a 25-acre parcel of public land was discriminatory and shaped by racially influenced opposition.

Garden City village officials did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The appeals court had sent the case back to the Eastern District, asking it to evaluate whether the plaintiffs in the case, MHANY Management Inc. and New York Communities for Change, had accounted for Garden City’s zoning effect on schools and traffic under a new federal regulation.

Spatt said in his ruling that the village could have pursued a less-discriminatory zoning classification.

“The zone largely eliminated the potential for the type of housing that minorities were disproportionally likely to need — namely, affordable rental units. The Court finds that minorities bore the brunt of the negative impacts of the zone,” the judge wrote.

The village is under a 2014 court order to adopt inclusionary zoning ordinances that mandate that 10 percent of units in new developments of five units or more be affordable to low-income households. The court found last year the village has no affordable housing. The village is 94 percent white, according to 2015 census data.

The Village Board approved a fair housing ordinance last year, while still appealing the court’s decision, to follow the fair housing policy under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1968. Village officials at the time said they believed they were in compliance with the law.

“We have been fighting segregation in Garden City for an awful long time,” said Mary Crosson, chair of the Long Island Chapter of New York Communities for Change, and who also serves as a Hempstead school board trustee. “We are happy that the court has supported our struggle against segregation in Garden City and on Long Island. This is another step forward and we are hopeful that Garden City will one day welcome African-Americans as neighbors.”

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