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Judge throws out part of Huntington discrimination suit

A federal judge has ruled that one part of a housing discrimination lawsuit against the Town of Huntington can proceed even as he dismissed a second part, clearing the way for a 117-unit affordable housing development in Melville.

U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley's July 8 decision kept alive the action against The Greens at Half Hollow in Melville, an existing 1,144-unit development for adults 55 and older that includes 100 affordable housing units. The suit - filed in 2002 by minority residents, the Huntington Fair Housing Coalition and the NAACP - alleges the town's approval of the plan in 2000 was discriminatory because the age-restricted units attract a disproportionately white pool of occupants.

"We are studying the opinion and considering what options we have," said Joe Rich, an attorney with Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a Washington-based nonprofit representing the plaintiffs.

Town officials said they will continue to defend the suit.

A judge denied the plaintiffs' effort to stop construction of The Greens in 2002. That decision was upheld by the Court of Appeals in 2003.

In 2004 the lawsuit was amended to include a complaint that a proposed affordable housing development in Melville, the Sanctuary at Ruland Road, called for only one-bedroom and studio units, with nothing for larger families. The complaint said the proposal was discriminatory on the basis of race because, statistically, minority families are larger.

In his decision, Hurley said the amended complaint "has not identified a single unlawful practice with regards to their Sanctuary claims that continued into the [statute of] limitations period."

The Ruland Road project is intended for workforce housing and senior citizens.

The town planning board approved the site plan in March, subject to certain conditions, town officials said, and the next step is for the developer to submit final plans, after which it would apply for building permits.

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