A federal district judge in the Eastern District of New York has ruled that the village of Garden City in Long Island violated the federal Fair Housing Act, the US constitution and other civil rights statutes by enacting a discriminatory zoning ordinance in 2004. Lawyers from Hogan Lovells, along with lawyers from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Law Offices of Frederick K Brewington, represented the plaintiffs.
The court found that the village’s action illegally discriminated on the basis of race and national origin against minorities and perpetuated segregation, which has allowed Garden City to remain a white enclave surrounded by predominantly minority neighbouring towns.
In 2004, Garden City considered a zoning proposal that would have made affordable housing possible on a Nassau County-owned site that was for sale in the village. However, in the face of racially motivated public opposition, the village rejected the proposal in favour of low-density zoning favouring high-cost single-family homes and townhouses.
The District Court found that ‘discrimination played a determinative role’ in Garden City’s decision to reject the originally proposed zoning and that minorities in Nassau County ‘bore the brunt of the negative impacts’ of that decision.
Stanley Brown, lead counsel for the plaintiffs and partner in Hogan Lovells’ New York office, said: ‘This case is a prime example of housing discrimination and exclusionary zoning practices that are being used by too many communities across the country to block affordable housing that would be occupied by minorities.’
In the eight years since this lawsuit was filed, many Hogan Lovells attorneys and staff have worked on the matter. Partner Stanley Brown led the current team, along with partner Pete Dennin, associates Chava Brandriss, Andrew Sein, Sarah Gregory, Ben Fleming, Leah Rabinowitz, Ben Reed and Caroline Cheng, paralegals Ray Torres, Linda Schepp and Don Sparks and litigation support analyst Miguel Lugo.
Former partner Paul Sweeney and former associates Sabrina Cochet, Kim Bykov, Toby Smith, Jenny Rubin Robertson, Renee Garcia, and Luz Henriquez also contributed to this case over the years.