Saturday, October 29, 2016

Final Tab In Fair Housing, ADA Lawsuit Nearly $200K For Upstate NY Municipality For Its Refusal To Rezone Former School Building For Use By Non-Profit To Assist Persons Recovering From Mental Health Issues

In Ogdensburg, New York, North Country Now reports:
  • Ogdensburg paid $43,276 in legal fees to defend the city against a discrimination suit brought by Step By Step Inc., according to City Manager Sarah Purdy.

    The sum includes fees paid to Sugarman Law Firm and a special payment to City Attorney Andy Silver for extra work that related to the suit.

    That’s on top of the $150,000 settlement the city was ordered to pay to Step By Step Inc. in August. However $75,000 of the settlement was covered by the city’s insurance provider.

    The controversy began when Step by Step sought to rezone the former Lincoln Elementary School, which it had recently purchased from Ogdensburg School District.

    That effort was met with backlash from the public for a variety of reasons including fear of reduced property values.

    Over the course of several public hearings residents in the neighborhood and clients of Step by Step made arguments to the city council about the proposed change.

    In the end the city denied the request with no explanation.

    The suit centered around Ogdensburg's denial of a zoning request in May 2015. Step by Step Inc. sued the city in federal court, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.

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