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Babylon Town lawsuit over disabilities discrimination settled

A housing facility for people with mental disabilities,

A housing facility for people with mental disabilities, located at 775 Conklin St. in East Farmingdale, is shown on Friday, May 19, 2017. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The Town of Babylon has settled a lawsuit brought by an Old Bethpage nonprofit that had accused the town and one of its zoning inspectors of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act.

Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, which operates housing facilities for people with mental disabilities on Long Island, filed the federal civil rights lawsuit in April. Earlier this month, the two sides reached the settlement and the case was dismissed, court records show.

The suit stemmed from a ticket that Babylon senior zoning inspector Maryann Andersen issued to one such facility, on Conklin Street in East Farmingdale, in August 2016 for allegedly violating the town’s zoning code, according to the complaint.

That ticket was based on the town’s view of the facility as a “private proprietary home for adults,” which the town code prohibits on property zoned for residential use, according to Babylon Town Attorney Joseph Wilson.

Family Residences, however, saw the ticket as part of a “pattern and practice” of “intentional discrimination against people with disabilities,” according to the complaint.

The town has since revised its classification of the home and now considers it a residence and thus in compliance with the zoning code, Wilson said.

As a result, the town rescinded the ticket, according to Robert L. Schonfeld, an attorney who represented the plaintiff.

But William D. Wexler, who represented the town and zoning inspector, said Babylon will require the facility operator to acquire a rental permit and possibly issue a ticket if it fails to do so.

“The town will retain its right to require compliance with the code,” he said.

The settlement did not involve monetary compensation, and the town acknowledged no wrongdoing in the case, Wexler said.

Schonfeld said that Family Enterprises was satisfied with the result of the lawsuit.

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