Saturday, May 06, 2017

Municipality Denies Fair Housing Wrongdoing, But Agrees To $2.45 Million Payout To Settle Real Estate Developer's Lawsuit Accusing Town Of Illegally Blocking Plans To Build 47-Unit Low-Income Apartment Complex; Gov't Insurer Left Holding The Bag For Most Of The Cost; Separate Action By Civil Rights Feds Remains Pending

In Tinley Park, Illinois, the Daily Southtown reports:
  • With a quick, uneventful vote at Tuesday's [April 18] Village Board meeting, Tinley Park officials laid to rest one legal controversy stemming from plans, now abandoned, to build apartments in the village that would target low-income renters.

    The settlement with Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, the Ohio-based nonprofit that proposed to build the 47-unit The Reserve, means the apartment project won't be built but it's unclear whether the agreement will also help in settling a separate lawsuit against the village, brought by the Justice Department, alleging violations of federal fair housing laws.

    On Wednesday, a year to the day since Buckeye filed its federal lawsuit, a check for $2.45 million was to have been delivered to the Chicago offices of the law firm Holland & Knight, which represented Buckeye in the lawsuit.

    Per the terms of the settlement, Tinley Park will pay Buckeye $75,392 from the village's general fund. Buckeye will receive an additional $684,608 from a legal settlement fund held on the village's behalf by its insurer, the Intergovernmental Risk Management Association. IRMA will then pay Buckeye another $1.69 million out of its own fund, for a total settlement of $2.45 million.

    Dave Niemeyer, Tinley Park's village manager, said that IRMA had urged the village to settle the Buckeye matter and was also involved in negotiating the amount of the settlement.
    ***
    Village officials said that the continuing cost of pursuing its defense of the lawsuit was a major factor in agreeing to settle. Trustee Brian Younker, prior to the board vote, said that the legal fees for the village could have been "well in excess" of $1 million had the matter gone to trial and the outcome of the case been appealed by either side.

    Buckeye sued after the village's Plan Commission, in early February of last year, tabled a vote that would have cleared the way for The Reserve to be built. Buckeye alleged that village officials had improperly interfered in blocking the project and discriminated against prospective tenants of building.

    As part of the settlement, Tinley Park denies any wrongful conduct on its part.
    ***
    Separate from the Buckeye settlement, attorneys for the village are awaiting a judge's decision on Tinley Park's motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought last November by the Justice Department alleging village officials violated federal fair housing laws by not approving the apartments.

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