[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish officials back in court today in federal fair-housing case

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon Aug 3 13:04:27 EDT 2009

St. Bernard Parish officials back in court today in federal fair-housing
by Chris Kirkham, The Times-Picayune
Monday August 03, 2009, 11:30 AM
Testimony has begun in the latest round of a federal fair-housing case
involving four proposed mixed-income apartment developments in St. Bernard

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and developers Provident
Realty Advisors of Dallas allege that St. Bernard Parish government has
violated a judge's previous order that the apartment complexes be allowed in

U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan in March ordered the parish to lift a
ban on construction of new apartment buildings. A month after her ruling,
the parish's Planning Commission refused to resubdivide the sites for
Provident's apartment complexes, effectively blocking the developments.

In June, the developers again sought Planning Commission approval, but were
told they would have to produce a detailed traffic study.

Matt Harris of Provident testified this morning that the decisions of the
parish have jeopardized financing for the project, part of which comes from
federal tax credits.

Today's hearing in Berrigan's courtroom is part of a long-simmering dispute
between the developers and the parish.

Provident approached parish officials with its plans last summer, and in
September the St. Bernard Parish Council passed the moratorium.

In December, the Fair Housing Action Center, along with Provident, argued in
federal court that the parish's actions violated the federal Fair Housing
Act, as well as a consent decree in a previous case. In that case, the Fair
Housing Action Center successfully challenged a council-approved ordinance
that sought to restrict parish home rentals by requiring landlords to
receive council approval to rent to anyone except blood relatives.

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