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Mount Holly Could Settle With Disgruntled Residents

NEW JERSEY 101.5

A New Jersey town is expected this week to settle a housing discrimination case less than a month before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on it.

gavel
Chris Ryan, Getty Images

A settlement between Mount Holly and residents of the Mount Holly Gardens neighborhood would put to rest a highly anticipated case on the top court’s docket this term. Arguments are set for Dec. 4.

The town in 2002 launched a plan to raze the neighborhood to make way for new houses, apartment buildings and stores in the town 20 miles east of Philadelphia.

A residents group sued, saying they would not be able to afford homes in the new development. The group also said the plan was discriminatory because most of the residents were minorities.

The Obama administration supports the theory used in the case — that discrimination can be found based on results of a project or practice, not just whether discrimination is intentional.

In 2011, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia agreed that the residents had made enough of a claim to go to trial on the disparate impact of the township’s plan. But the court also found that there was insufficient evidence of intentional discrimination.

Township spokeswoman Liz Thomas said the proposed settlement will go before the council Wednesday night. She would not comment on details, nor would James Maley, the lawyer for the town in the case. The residents group’s lawyer, Olga Pomar, did not immediately return a call Monday night.

James Potter, president of the residents group, told The Philadelphia Inquirer last week that some residents would get homes in the new development under the deal, while some would get buyouts and move elsewhere.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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