MHANY Management, Inc. v. County of Nassau, 032316 FED2, 14-1634-cv (L)
|Docket Nº:||14-1634-cv (L), 14-1729-cv (XAP)|
|Opinion Judge:||POOLER, Circuit Judge:|
|Party Name:||MHANY MANAGEMENT, INC., AKA New York Acorn Housing Company, Plaintiff-Appellee-Cross-Appellant, v. COUNTY OF NASSAU, COUNTY OF NASSAU PLANNING COMMISSION, COUNTY OF NASSAU OFFICE OF REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT, Defendants-Cross-Appellees, INCORPORATED VILLAGE OF GARDEN CITY, GARDEN CITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES, Defendants-Appellants. NEW YORK COMMUNITI...|
|Attorney:||Michael Carvin, Jones Day, Washington, DC, for Defendants-Appellants Incorporated Village of Garden City, Garden City Board of Trustees. Ira M. Feinberg, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP (Stanley J. Brown, Chava Brandriss, Benjamin A. Fleming, Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, New York, NY; Joseph D. Rich, Lawyers' ...|
|Judge Panel:||Before: POOLER, LOHIER, and DRONEY, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||March 23, 2016|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit|
Argued: May 29, 2015
Defendants-Appellants the Incorporated Village of Garden City and the Garden City Board of Trustees appeal from an April 22, 2014 final judgment following a bench trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Spatt, J.) finding Defendants-Appellants liable for violations of the Fair Housing Act, Section 1981, Section 1983, and the Equal Protection Clause. Plaintiff-Appellee-Cross-Appellant MHANY Management, Inc. and Intervenor- Plaintiff-Appellee-Cross-Appellant New York Communities for Change, Inc. cross-appeal from a February 15, 2012 grant of summary judgment by the same district court in favor of Defendants-Cross-Appellees County of Nassau, County of Nassau Planning Commission, and County of Nassau Office of Real Estate and Development. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand.
This is a housing discrimination case relating to the community of Garden City in Long Island, New York. Defendants-Appellants the Incorporated Village of Garden City and the Garden City Board of Trustees (collectively "Garden City") appeal from an April 22, 2014 final judgment following a bench trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Spatt, J.) finding Garden City liable for violations of the Fair Housing Act, Section 1981, Section 1983, and the Equal Protection Clause. We affirm this decision.
Plaintiff-Appellee-Cross-Appellant MHANY Management, Inc. and Intervenor-Plaintiff-Appellee-Cross-Appellant New York Communities for Change, Inc., (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), also cross-appeal from a February 15, 2012 grant of summary judgment by the same district court in favor of Defendants-Cross-Appellees County of Nassau, County of Nassau Planning Commission, and County of Nassau Office of Real Estate and Development (collectively "Nassau County"). We affirm this decision in part, vacate in part, and remand.
The following facts are drawn from the district court's factual findings after the bench trial, which we accept unless clearly erroneous. Diesel Props S.r.l v. Greystone Bus. Credit II LLC, 631 F.3d 42, 52 (2d Cir. 2011).
A. Nassau County and Garden City
The Village of Garden City is a municipal corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York and located in Nassau County. As of the year 2000, individuals of Hispanic or African-American ethnicity comprised 20.3% of Nassau County's population. However, these minority groups comprised a disproportionate share of the County's low-income population. While constituting 14.8% of all households in Nassau County, African-Americans and Hispanics represented 53.1% of the County's "very low" income, non-elderly renter households. In addition, African-Americans made up 88% of the County's waiting list for Section 8 housing. Under the Section 8 program, the federal government provides funds to local housing authorities, which then subsidize rental payments for qualifying low-income tenants in privately-owned buildings. See 42 U.S.C. § 1437f(o)(1)(A).
Garden City's African-American and Hispanic population in the year 2000 was 4.1%. However, excluding the 61% of the minority population representing students living in dormitories, Garden City's minority population was only 2.6%. In addition, only 2.3% of the households in Garden City were headed by an African-American or Hispanic person. However, several of the communities surrounding Garden City are "majority-minority, " communities in which minorities make up a majority of the population.
Although the lack of affordable housing has long been a problem for Nassau County, Garden City contains no affordable housing.1 Indeed, in the past, Garden City and its residents have resisted the introduction of affordable housing into the community. According to a Garden City official, in 1989, a developer proposed constructing 51 units of affordable housing at a site in Garden City. This project was never completed, apparently due to a village building moratorium, and a luxury development was ultimately approved for the site. In addition, in May 2006, Nassau County announced that it intended to sell a parcel of County land in Garden City known as the Ring Road Site, for the development of mixed-income affordable housing. But after Garden City residents expressed opposition to the construction of affordable housing in the community, the project was abandoned. Finally, Garden City has repeatedly declined to join the Nassau County Urban Consortium, a group of municipalities in Nassau County that are eligible to receive federal funding to support affordable-housing development.
B. The Social Services Site
In 2002, Nassau County faced a budget and infrastructure crisis. Under the leadership of then-County Executive Thomas Suozzi, the County undertook a Real Estate Consolidation Plan, which involved consolidating County operations in several facilities and selling excess government property in order to raise revenue to fund renovations of the County's existing operations.
One of the properties proposed for sale under the Real Estate Consolidation Plan was a parcel of land owned by Nassau County within the boundaries of Garden City. This parcel of land was part of Garden City's Public or P-Zone. Garden City's P-Zone encompasses numerous Nassau County Buildings, including the Nassau County Police Headquarters, the County Executive Building, and the Nassau County Supreme Court Building.
The portion of the P-Zone site at issue in this case, referred to as the "Social Services Site, " is an approximately 25-acre site that housed the former Nassau County Social Services Building, the parking lots for the Nassau County Supreme Court, a garage, an ancillary building, and additional parking facilities. The Social Services Site consists of two segments: (1) 21.44 acres located on the eastern side of County Seat Drive, the site of the former Social Services building and parking facilities; and (2) an additional 3.03 acres located on the western side of County Seat Drive, on which a County-owned building and a parking garage are located.
Nassau County planned to sell the Social Services Site to a private developer, hoping to receive at least $30 million for the property. In order to facilitate this sale, Nassau County turned to Garden City, which controlled the Site's zoning.
C. Garden City's Rezoning
In June 2002, at the County's request, Garden City began the process of re- zoning the Social Services Site. This process was managed by the Garden City Board of Trustees, the elected body which governs Village affairs. In response to the County's request, the Board of Trustees created a sub-committee (the "P- Zone Committee") charged with retaining a planner and reviewing zoning options for the Social Services Site, as well as the remainder of the P-Zone properties in Garden City. This P-Zone Committee consisted of Village Trustees Peter Bee, Peter Negri, and Gerard Lundquist. Trustee Bee was the chairman of the P-Zone Committee. Garden City also retained the planning firm of Buckhurst Fish and Jacquemart ("BFJ") to provide a recommendation with regard to the rezoning of the Social Services Site. Garden City had previously worked with BFJ over several decades. Village officials trusted and respected BFJ's work and generally adopted its recommendations. The P-Zone committee was supervised by Garden City Village Administrator Robert Schoelle, who served as a liaison between the Committee and the Board of Trustees. The Village also hired attorney John Kiernan to advise it on the rezoning process.
In the early part of this rezoning process, BFJ and Garden City emphasized that any proposal should rely on existing zoning mechanisms and respect the existing character of the Village. In a September 13, 2002 fax outlining the general planning principles for redevelopment of the P-Zone properties, BFJ stressed that "[a]ny rezoning associated with the proposed development should be in accordance with...
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