By Cherri Gregg
MT. HOLLY, N.J. (CBS) — The US Supreme Court will weigh in on an decade-old Fair Housing Act lawsuit in which residents of Mount Holly, NJ claim the township’s redevelopment plan effectively discriminates against the minorities who lived there, by forcing them to move.
In 2003, Mount Holly Township declared the “Gardens” neighborhood blighted and created a redevelopment plan that called for the demolition of more than 300 townhomes, where three-quarters of the residents were African-American or Hispanic.
“They were only offering to pay $30,000 to $50,000 for the homes, but would be building replacement housing at between $200,000 to $250,000,” says Kenneth Goldman, director of litigation and advocacy at South Jersey Legal Services, an organization representing 30 Garden residents who claim the redevelopment plan discriminated against them by pricing them out of the area.
The Supreme Court could hear the case this fall, leading to a nationwide impact on redevelopment efforts across the country. But Goldman says if the township creates affordable housing, the matter could be settled.
“They (the plaintiffs) want to continue to be a part of this community and not be driven from Mount Holly or the surrounding area,” says Goldman.
The parties could meet and hold discussions as early as this week. Goldman says if the parties settle, the US Supreme Court case will likely be dismissed.
He says the current case pending in federal court in New Jersey would also be dismissed.
Counsel for Mount Holly could not be immediately reached for comment.