Judge Finds Discrimination in Garden City Zoning

, New York Law Journal

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A federal judge says a predominantly white Long Island village discriminated against minorities in its decisions regarding residential zoning.

Eastern District Judge Arthur Spatt (See Profile), sitting in Central Islip, said Friday the village of Garden City's rejection of a planned "affordable housing" complex had a negative impact on minorities.

In his decision, Mhany Management v. Village of Garden City, 05-cv-2301, the judge ordered the village to submit a plan outlining remedies.

Spatt determined it had been shown "that the Village's acts had both an adverse impact on minorities and tended to perpetuate segregation, and that even though some of Garden City's offered justifications are bona fide and legitimate, less discriminatory alternatives to the current zoning ordinance existed."

In oral arguments last summer, an attorney for the village said its board was complying with the wishes of its constituency in making the zoning decisions.

Census figures show the Nassau County village is 93 percent white.

Stanley Brown, a partner at Hogan Lovells, served as plaintiffs' lead counsel. In a statement, he said the ruling sends "a strong message to other government entities that the use of restrictive zoning to discourage minority residency will not be tolerated."

The village said in a statement it was "extremely disappointed" in the decision and planned to appeal. It said there was "no discriminatory intent" in its zoning changes.

The plaintiffs were also represented by Peter Dennin, Chava Brandriss, Andrew Sein, Sarah Gregory and Benjamin Fleming of Hogan Lovells.

Frederick Brewington of Hempstead and Joseph Rich, Linda Mullenbach and Abigail Shafroth of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also represented the plaintiffs.

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