In Darien, Connecticut, the Darien News
- The Town of Darien has settled a 4-year-old lawsuit against the Planning & Zoning Commission claiming the town rejected an affordable housing development proposal on the basis of discrimination against minorities.
Plaintiff Chris Hamer will be paid $150,000 under the settlement, according to his attorney, New Haven-based John Williams.
Two years ago, a federal judge dropped the name of former Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Fred Conze from the suit, granting him legislative immunity for his actions, but ruled the claims against the town should proceed. The case had been set to go to trial last month, Williams said.
Williams said the settlement represented a vindication of Hamer’s claims.
“I think the settlement is a terrific settlement that sends a message about how to treat people more fairly,” Williams said. “There has been a political change in Darien and hopefully the new leadership will take a lesson from this and do away with the old policy of ‘whites only.’”
Filed in November 2011 by Hamer, the suit brought claims under the Fourteenth Amendment against the town and Conze, contending the Planning & Zoning Commission denied him permits in 2008 to build 10 affordable residential units on Oak Crest Drive, and worked with neighbors of Hamer to file a lawsuit which resulted in him losing the land in foreclosure.
The litigation also claimed the town was attempting to exclude minorities, specifically blacks, from moving into town by denying affordable housing projects to keep housing prices too high, according to the suit.
Conze referred questions about the lawsuit to Darien Town Attorney John Wayne Fox.
Fox emphasized that the settlement had been put forward by the town’s insurance company who will pay the settlement, and who recommended accepting it.