Feb. 2—CHESTER — Town officials and developers of the 431-home Greens at Chester project have struck a deal that ends a federal discrimination lawsuit against the town and allows construction to continue with limits on home sizes and other prescribed terms.
The 32-page settlement, posted with related documents on the Town of Chester website, is set to be approved by the
"I think we've done the best that we can do for the town, and we're getting out of the litigation," Chester Supervisor
"It was never about money," he said. "We didn't want to stick the town residents with a bill for mistakes that other people made."
The developers had sued both the town and
State Attorney General
Neither the town nor county acknowledged wrongdoing or paid damages under their deals with the developers, who had sought
Eighteen homes — all of them semi-attached units in nine duplex buildings — already are under construction. The town began issuing permits for those homes in September, saying then that the designs complied with the town's approvals and didn't raise the size disputes that plans for fully detached units had done. The developers also had satisfied another objection by posting a bond for future infrastructure.
Under a decision in October in a separate lawsuit, the town's previous insurer must cover the town's legal bills for the Greens at Chester case, estimated to total about
The development site takes up 113 acres off
One concession for the town was that the developers agreed to sign a statement supporting the town's plan to impose a tax on property sales to raise funds for open space preservation. Their lawsuit had described that effort as a tactic to stop new housing for Hasidic families — and Gov.
In the settlement, the developers pledged to support preserving open space through various means, including "the judicious and non-discriminatorily applied use of public tax revenue to purchase open land to be preserved for public use."
Another concession was that the developers agreed to try to replace 32 homes in the project with a commercial development, without specifying what that would be or guaranteeing it would come to fruition. Town officials wanted a business component to generate property tax revenue.
Schwartz said the deal enables his team to build homes that are large enough to be profitable and provides security against official interference. It details each step in the project to leave no doubt, requires both sides to act in good faith and retains the court's jurisdiction to settle any disputes that may arise over the terms.
"We tried to specify as much as we can," he said.
He said he and his partners accepted size restrictions that they felt were not part of the town's approvals but that they could accommodate in their business plan.
Valentine said the agreement that detached homes take up no more than 36 percent of each building lot on average was a sharp drop from the roughly 80 percent lot coverage the developers had proposed. The result will be an average home size of 2,700 square feet, he said.
Town officials had denied any discriminatory motives from the outset of the case, saying they had denied permits strictly because the proposed homes were larger than approved and all infrastructure work needed to be done first.
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