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Friday, July 01, 2011

South Milwaukee, developer settle apartment bias issue

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Anonymous Journal Sentinal said...

As one Milwaukee suburb faces a federal lawsuit claiming racial discrimination in its refusal to approve a residential development, another has just put the finishing touches on an 18-year legal battle over an integrated housing complex.

Lawyers in a lawsuit involving the Lake Bluff Apartments in South Milwaukee say the long legal battle over the complex ended Monday with all the conditions fulfilled, including leaving the buildings standing, in a tentative settlement reached last September.

The lawsuit, filed by the bank that financed the development and joined by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, had contended that razing the complex would constitute racial discrimination.

Lawyers for tenants in the building "applaud the City of South Milwaukee for resolving this case in a way that promotes fair housing and integration. The City negotiated this settlement in good faith," according to a statement released Monday.

The plaintiff residents were represented by the ACLU of Wisconsin, Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee and Legal Action Wisconsin. They joined the lawsuit originally filed by the bank that held the mortgage on the buildings.

The announcement comes just four days after federal authorities sued New Berlin, claiming racial discrimination drove that city's decisions to block a low-income housing development in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The long-running South Milwaukee dispute once saw the city attempting to raze the Lake Bluff Apartments complex, which includes affordable housing. About one-third of the complex's residents have been minorities. The city's population was 1% black by the 2000 census.

In July 2009, a federal jury found that razing the property would have a disproportionate effect on minority and disabled residents and would be in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

South Milwaukee officials had said they sought to raze the buildings because it violated the city's zoning, and not with the purpose of discriminating. The parties have been negotiating for more than a year, with U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman mediating.

Provisions of the settlement, according to lawyers, include:

The two buildings of Lake Bluff, at 3344 Marina Road, will not be torn down, and the complex will continue its mix of 25 affordable-housing units and 31 market-rate units until 2025.

7:50 AM  

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