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Westchester convinces court to speed up appeal on HUD lawsuit

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino speaks at a

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino speaks at a news conference in this file photo. (June 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Susan Stava

Westchester County is digging in its heels in its ongoing housing battle with the federal government.

The county has persuaded a federal appeals court to hear an expedited appeal regarding the judgment that ended a 2009 lawsuit against the county.

The lawsuit forced the county to agree to build some 750 units of affordable housing and to promote development of affordable housing in communities that are almost entirely white. The county is ahead of schedule in regard to the affordable housing, but is balking at the federal government's insistence that the county change local zoning laws.

Astorino says the federal government is asking the county to trample on the rights of its homeowners. The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the county's complaint.

"We look forward to presenting our case that the county has complied with the terms of the settlement," said Astorino spokesman Ned McCormack, "and that the federal government's demands that we dismantle local zoning, disregard individual property rights and diminish the powers of elected officials go far beyond the terms of the agreement, common sense and the guarantees afford to all citizens under the Constitution."

The original lawsuit -- brought by the Manhattan-based Antidiscrimination Center -- contended that Westchester County is fundamentally segregated.

The Antidiscrimination Center has argued recently that Astorino has ignored the requirements imposed when the country lost the lawsuit.

In a post to its website last month, the group said: "Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has long played the not-very-subtle game of giving lip service to the Consent Decree compliance, even as he assures ultra-white municipalities and their residents that he will do nothing to get them to change their exclusionary zoning."

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