NAACP Cool To Ruland Counter-Offer
Any settlement offer calling for affordable home ownership units to be built on Ruland Road in Melville isn’t likely to get very far with the Huntington NAACP.
Manhattan-based attorney Christopher Campbell, who is representing the local chapter of the civil rights organization in a lawsuit against the town over affordable housing in Melville, said that leaders of the group are holding firm to their demand for affordable rentals ahead of a Feb. 18 court date in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.
“Ownership is a deal-breaker to us,” Campbell said.
Campbell drew that line in the sand shortly after the Town of Huntington submitted a formal counteroffer in hopes of ending a decade-long legal battle over the affordable-housing offset for The Greens at Half Hollow to be constructed on 8.1 acres along Ruland Road. The Huntington NAACP alleges the town discriminated against minorities and families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act by approving plans to build affordable single-bedroom, for-sale homes at Ruland Road.
Noting that the counteroffer was marked “confidential,” Campbell declined to discuss specifics. However, in a Dec. 19 Long Islander News report, Campbell said it was his “sense” that an “informal overture” had been made by the town for a similar 117-unit distribution, but as for-sale units.
Asked if the formal offer is similar to that “informal overture,” Campbell said, “It’s very similar to that, but different in just a few ways.”
Whatever it was, it was apparently not very conducive to getting the Huntington NAACP to settle.
“We’re not likely to be agreeable to it, but we want to continue to talk to the town,” he said.
Previously, the town board rejected on Dec. 10 a settlement offer by the Huntington NAACP which would have cleared the way for 77 one-bedroom, 34 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom affordable rentals on the parcel.
However, before the NAACP will consider a counteroffer, they want the town board to ratify it first, Campbell said. That stems from an attempt in August to settle the case by authorizing rentals on the property, a proposal that was pulled after local civic leaders who support ownership units on Ruland Road found out the plan was for rentals.
Throughout the process, the town has largely kept mum on the back-and-forth with the Huntington NAACP over the case and continued to do so Monday.
“The trial will begin on Feb. 18 with opening statements and the plaintiff starting to present its case,” town spokesman A.J. Carter said. “There are ongoing discussions. The town is engaging in those discussions.”