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United States v. The Town of Oyster Bay

United States District Court, E.D. New York

December 5, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
THE TOWN OF OYSTER BAY and TOWN SUPERVISOR JOHN VENDITTO, in his official capacity, Defendants

For the Plaintiff: Michael.Goldberger, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Thomas A. McFarland, Assistant U.S. Attorney, United States Attorneys Office, Brooklyn, NY.

For the Plaintiff: Neta Borshansky, Trial Counsel, Beth Susan Frank, Trial Counsel, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Bureau, Washington, DC.

For Anthony Herman, Esq., Christopher Yuk Lun Yeung, Esq., Matthew Berns, Esq., Of Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 286

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION & ORDER

ARTHUR D. SPATT, United States District Judge.

On April 10, 2014, the United States (the " Plaintiff" ) commenced this action against

Page 287

the Town of Oyster Bay and the Town Supervisor John Venditto, in his official capacity (collectively, the " Defendants" ). The Plaintiff asserts claims under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq (the " FHA" ) and alleges that the Defendants engaged in, and continue to engage in, a pattern or practice of discrimination against African Americans through the use of two affordable housing programs. The Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss and fact discovery has not yet commenced.

Presently before the Court is the Defendants' motion to stay all proceedings in this action pending the decision of the Supreme Court in Texas Dep't of Hous. & Cmty. Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., No. 13-1371, 135 S.Ct. 46, 189 L.Ed.2d 896 (2014) (" Texas DHCA" ). The question presented in Texas DHCA is whether disparate impact claims are cognizable under the FHA.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the Defendants' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

The Defendant the Town of Oyster Bay (" Oyster Bay" ) is a locality in Nassau County, New York, which consists of sixteen unincorporated communities and eleven incorporated villages. (Compl. at ¶ 5.) The Town Council in Oyster Bay is responsible for approving new housing developments and making revisions to Oyster Bay's zoning code. (Id.) The Defendant John Venditto (" Venditto" ) is the Town Supervisor and Chief Executive Officer of Oyster Bay. (Id. at ¶ 6.) He was responsible for designing and drafting legislation to create the Next Generation and the Golden Age programs, the two affordable housing programs at issue in the instant case. (Id.)

A. The Next Generation Program

On November 9, 2004, Oyster Bay's Town Council passed the Next Generation program. (Id. at ¶ 10.) This was a resolution that amended Oyster Bay's zoning code to offer developers incentives to build housing for first-time homebuyers with incomes between 80 and 120 percent of the median town income. (Id.) In exchange for building affordable Next Generation housing, developers would be permitted to build up to 12 units per acre, more than ordinarily permitted. (Id.)

The Town hired the Long Island Housing Partnership, Inc. (" LHIP" ) to administer and implement the program. (Id. at 13.) As administered, the program gives first priority to Oyster Bay residents and their children. (Id. at ¶ 11.) The stated purpose of the residency preference is to benefit young families who have ties to Oyster Bay. (Id.)

The Plaintiff alleges that when the resolution passed, the Defendant Venditto stated that the goal of the Next Generation program was to " keep our children here, keep the generations flowing in the Town." (Id. at ¶ 12.) Venditto allegedly added that " [b]y providing our young people with an opportunity to achieve the personal and financial stability that accompanies homeownership, we are helping ensure that our Town remains the best place to live and raise a family for present and future generations." (Id.)

On June 13, 2006, the Town Council approved the Seasons at Plainview, the first development built pursuant to the Next Generation program. (Id. at ¶ 15.) The development is comprised of approximately 134 units. (Id. at ΒΆ 15.) Of the 134 units, 28 units were to be devoted to affordable housing under the Next Generation program, and 106 ...


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