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North Amityville mobile home park residents file federal discrimination lawsuit

Frontier Mobile Home Park in North Amityville on

Frontier Mobile Home Park in North Amityville on March 11, 2014. Credit: Ed Betz

Residents of a North Amityville mobile home park have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Babylon Town and a developer who is seeking to build apartments on the site.

Wednesday is the deadline for the more than 100 Frontier Mobile Home Park residents in the first phase of construction to leave the park. Developer R Squared Real Estate Partners of Plainview plans to build 500 apartments plus retail space on the 20-acre site. The park has about 300 homes, which are owned by residents who pay about $600 a month in rent to park owner H. Lee Blumberg.

The lawsuit, which alleges violations of the federal fair housing and civil rights acts, names the town, town zoning and planning boards and New Frontier II, LLC, a partnership between Blumberg and R Squared.

In a statement, town attorney Joe Wilson said the lawsuit has no merit and will be dismissed. Town spokesman Kevin Bonner said the redevelopment will continue and Wednesday's deadline for phase one residents remains.

Neither R Squared nor Arthur Morrison, a Westchester attorney who filed the suit, responded to requests for comment.

The suit's plaintiffs -- the park's civic association, along with 70 named residents -- say the development will create "500 expensive apartments to be consequently occupied not by minorities, but solely by white families who can afford the expensive rent being requested."

R Squared has not revealed the rents, but at a town zoning board meeting in 2011, the firm's attorney said that 100 affordable housing units within the new development could run about $1,400 monthly for an individual earning $56,000.

R Squared has offered first phase residents a relocation plan consisting of $20,000 paid in installments once they vacate the property. The lawsuit says that by agreeing to this, residents lose their right to the affordable units -- to which R Squared has said park residents have first priority -- and that this "perpetuates . . . the exclusion of minorities from the overwhelmingly white enclave of Amityville."

The lawsuit bases this allegation on 2010 census data from the Village of Amityville, where the majority of residents -- 81.7 percent -- are white. The park is located in North Amityville, where 2010 census data indicates the majority of residents -- 58.9 percent -- are black, followed by Hispanics at 28.5 percent. The lawsuit states that 95 percent of the park's residents are black and/or Hispanic.

A court conference has been set for Sept 2 in Central Islip.

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