On October 1, 2018, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed suit against the Village of Coxsackie, New York, on behalf of UMH Properties, a developer seeking to build a community of affordable manufactured homes in the Village.

UMH began planning Mountainview Estates in 2004, initially with the support of Coxsackie officials, and bought property for the project in 2005. But official support for the development evaporated when some local residents mounted a campaign to keep the affordable housing out.

While Coxsackie Village is more than 96 percent white, neighboring towns and cities are much more diverse. The development’s 300 homes would address Coxsackie’s dearth of affordable housing, meeting demand for housing among lower income households, many of them African American and families with children. Most homes would cost $100,000 or less or could be rented at affordable rates. Resistance from the Village excludes a disproportionate number of African Americans and families with children, perpetuating current patterns of segregation.

Responding to pressure, Coxsackie officials repeatedly rejected well-planned designs for the community, and eventually resorted to rewriting the Village zoning code to prevent UMH from building any manufactured home community on the property it had purchased for the purpose.

Filed in the Albany Division of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, the case alleges that the Village engaged in race and familial status discrimination in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, and that its obstruction of Mountainview Estates and alteration of the zoning code violated state law. The Relman, Dane & Colfax litigation team includes Reed Colfax, Joseph Wardenski, and Andrea Lowe. 

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