CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – The developer of a 28-unit affordable housing project has filed a housing discrimination complaint against the Town of New Castle building inspector and Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL).
Conifer Realty claims that some members of the public opposed the development because of the race of potential occupants. They say the town Building Inspector, Bill Maskiell, and the BOL have tried to halt the development based on that opposition.
“They just don’t want this project for a number of reasons,” said Randolph McLaughlin, a lawyer for Conifer Realty. “It’s just the latest smoke screen they’re putting up to either delay or stop this project.”
New Castle Town Supervisor Rob Greenstein, who has been a vocal opponent to the project, said Conifer’s allegations are baseless and that the town is committed to affordable housing.
Some residents have said during the five public hearings on the matter in 2012 and 2013 that the project would be a stigmatized ghetto, the children who lived there would be ostracized by children who live in the village and that the project would be where the “blacks and Hispanics” live, Conifer wrote in the complaint.
Conifer claims that the BOL has tried to halt the project by voting down legislation in December that would have funded the acquisition and improvements to the .34-acre property at 54 Hunts Place, with the intention of handing it over to Conifer. Legislators voiced concerns about the lack of emergency access.
It also alleges that Maskiell has tried to halt the project by withholding building permits because the project doesn’t comply with state fire code standards. He directed the developer to get eight variances from the state , which is expected to vote on the matter April 8. However, Conifer hired a code consultant who McLaughlin says proved that the project complies with all of those standards.
Greenstein and Maskiell disagree.
“Conifer should be spending its time working on getting those variances rather than making false accusations against our Town and its residents,” Greenstein said.
The complaint was filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development March 6.
The County Executive plans to re-introduce the legislation to buy the land, according to his communications director Ned McCormack. But, he is waiting to see if the state grants the eight variances needed to build.
Westchester Legsislator Ken Jenkins called on Astorino last week to reintroduce the legislation as soon as possible.