The Anderson Group v. City of Saratoga Springs
Finding that zoning policies used by the City of Saratoga Springs, New York had a discriminatory disparate impact on African Americans and families with children, a federal jury awarded $1 million to The Anderson Group, an Albany, New York builder that sought to construct a mixed-income housing development in the virtually all-white city. The evidence introduced in the case showed that the City blocked the Anderson’s proposed development, Spring Run Village, as part of a continuing discriminatory policy that excluded and segregated African Americans by manipulating its zoning and land use rules to ensure that all affordable housing is contained in a small downtown area.
When the Anderson family sought to build Spring Run Village, a development with fifty to sixty affordable units, on property they own outside the downtown area, the City rejected the Anderson's application and rezoned the site from a classification where high-density residential and commercial uses were “preferred” and “encouraged” to a classification where such a development was prohibited.
The rezoning prevented Spring Run Village and had the effect of preventing the construction of any affordable housing on the property. The City took these actions despite an acknowledged affordable housing crisis in the City. That crisis is disproportionately borne by African Americans and families with children in the area who face extreme housing costs burdens.
Relman, Dane & Colfax filed the Fair Housing Act action against Saratoga Springs in October 2005 and after extensive motions practice and an appeal to the Second Circuit, trial began on June 21, 2010 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. The seven-member jury heard testimony for nine days, and then deliberated for nearly twelve hours before delivering, on July 2, 2010, a verdict of $1 million in compensatory damages on the disparate impact claim.
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