Village Being Sued for Illegal Housing Discrimination on Kensington Road Project Print

Written by Carol P. Bartold



 

Jan. 28, 2015: Bronxville's Kensington Road project, over ten years in the making, put on hold by the 2008 economic downturn, and currently in progress with excavation on the site, has encountered another snag.

On January 15, Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. (WRO), a private nonprofit organization, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Village of Bronxville and Kensington Road developer Gateway Kensington LLC for illegal housing discrimination against families with children.

WRO filed the suit under both the federal Fair Housing Act and the New York State Human Rights Act "for discrimination based on familial status and age," as described in a WRO press release dated January 15, 2015, after an investigation by WRO of the village that was supported by a grant provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.

Geoffrey Anderson, WRO executive director, states in the press release that "Bronxville and its developer deliberately set out to design and market new condominiums to deter families with children from moving into the village."

WRO cites an "age-targeted" special permit in the village zoning code, which, it states in the press release, "allows developers to build more units than allowed 'as of right' if the housing is 'designed to appeal primarily to individuals and couples without children.'" WRO claims that in 2013, the village granted such an age-targeted permit for the Kensington Road development project.

WRO states in the press release that the 54-unit condominium project was "intentionally designed with few bedrooms and with dens lacking closets and placed far from bathrooms. Moreover, the development will not offer any child-friendly amenities."

Marlene Zarfes, WRO's director of fair housing, is quoted in the press release as saying, "'Such discrimination is not only wrong but illegal. Municipalities violate fair housing laws when they develop housing for so-called empty nesters and discourage families from living in their communities.'" She also stated that, "while age-restricted housing for seniors can be created legally under federal law, it must be for those either 55 or 62 and older."

Geoff Thompson, spokesperson for Fareri Associates, which wholly owns Gateway Kensington LLC, stated, "While we have not yet begun to market the housing, we intend to fully comply with the Fair Housing Act. There is no age limit on who can purchase, and sales will be open to all, including families with children."

Requests for comments from Bronxville Village Hall were not answered.

Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. describes its mission as follows in the press release: "Founded in 1968 to fight housing discrimination in its region, Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. is a private nonprofit organization and a federally approved housing counseling agency. Its mission is to promote equal, affordable, and accessible housing opportunities for all residents of the Lower Hudson Valley."

Pictured here: Site of the new Kensington Road condominiums.

Photo by N. Bower