Darien, CT

Town settles civil rights lawsuit

September 30, 2015
The Town of Darien has settled a 4-year-old lawsuit against the Planning & Zoning Commission claiming the town rejected an affordable housing development proposal on the basis of discrimination against minorities.
     Plaintiff Chris Hamer will be paid $150,000 under the settlement, according to his attorney, New Haven-based John Williams.
     Two years ago, a federal judge dropped the name of former Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Fred Conze from the suit, granting him legislative immunity for his actions, but ruled the claims against the town should proceed. The case had been set to go to trial last month, Williams said.

DOJ closes investigation on Darien, finds no violations

August 23, 2012
An investigation into Darien that has gone on for over two years without much detail provided by the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice has officially closed, with no further action required.
     In a letter dated Thursday, Aug. 23 from Steven Rosenbaum, chief of the housing and civil enforcement area of the civil rights division to town counsel Wayne Fox, Rosenbaum says the department informed Darien of the investigation on May 4, 2010. Rosenbaum says the investigation involved whether the town’s zoning and land use practices violated the Fair Housing Act.
     The letter continues to say the case is closed.
     Our office has now completed the investigation, and has deteremined that no further action is warranted at this time. Therefore, the Department of Justice has closed this investigation.

Housing lawsuit alleges bias

December 08, 2011
DARIEN’S attitudes toward affordable housing are once again under scrutiny, this time in a federal civil rights action accusing the town’s planning and zoning commission, and its chairman, Frederick B. Conze, of trying to keep out black residents. Enlarge This Image
     Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times Christopher Hamer in Darien, on a site in a single-family area where he had sought to build condos, some to be sold below market rate. His application was rejected, and he is suing the town.
     It accuses the commission of limiting opportunities for minorities to live in Darien by “keeping housing costs prohibitively high and preventing the construction of affordable housing units.”

Town being investigated by Department of Justice

September 15, 2010
The investigation is related to “zoning and land use practices pursuant to the federal Fair Housing Act.” Chris and Margaret Stefanoni, among those interviewed for the investigation, also accuse the town of retaliation against them for their involvement in the town's affordable housing development.
     Specifically mentioned in the letter obtained by The Darien Times, which was sent in May, is the town’s adopted inclusionary zoning regulations specifically related to “priority populations.” Inclusionary zoning requires developments in towns of a certain size to include a certain number of affordable units. Priority populations refers to those who live and work in town being given first shot at those units. The Planning & Zoning Commission adopted the inclusionary zoning regulation in May 2009.
     Chris and Margaret Stefanoni, who currently have active applications for affordable housing projects under state statute 8-30g, said they were recently contacted by the Department of Justice. The state statute requires towns in Connecticut to have a certain percent of affordable housing stock.
     "I learned on Wednesday that the Department of Justice informed Town Counsel and the First Selectman in early May about its investigation of Darien concerning violations of fair housing laws,” Chris Stefanoni told The Darien Times.
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