Judge rules in favor of Provident and GNOFHACNov 9th, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: News
A federal judge has ruled in favor of Provident Realty and Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) in the long-running discrimination lawsuit against St. Bernard Parish.
Based on the summary judgement from U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, the case does not need to
go to trial. St. Bernard Parish is to pay an additional $625,153 in fees, costs and damages for the plaintiff.
Provident and GNOFHAC filed a motion for summary judgment in July of 2012. According to their motion, the plaintiffs felt that the repeated issuance of cease and desist orders, withholding the release
of municipal services, refusing to issue building permits, and delaying construction by seeking to enforce
inapplicable codes were grounds for St. Bernard Parish to lose the case.
In 2008, Provident purchased land to build four multi-family, mixed-income apartment complexes
in Chalmette, generating wild opposition from residents.
That February, following more than a year of contentious litigation over the parish’s enactment of two zoning ordinances that the court found discriminatory— one restricting homeowners’ rights to
rent their homes to anyone other than blood relatives and one imposing a moratorium on the construction or rehabilitation of multi-family housing. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana entered a Consent Order settling the case.
In her October 17 ruling, Berrigan ruled that various parties were in contempt of the aforementioned 2008 consent decree by “issuing repeated cease and desist orders, withholding the release of critical municipal services, refusing to provide feedback and information on construction specifications,
refusing to issue renewed building permits, and delaying construction by seeking to enforce inapplicable
codes,” the filing says.
Berrigan’s ruling also dismissed with prejudice the March 2011 injunction suit by Chateau Lafitte
Homeowners Association against the parish to stop the construction of the multi-family apartments.
Berrigan dismissed the case on the grounds of being moot since construction is already complete and occupancy certificates have been issued.
In the underlying action by the Chateau Lafitte Homeowner’s Association against St. Bernard Parish, the Chateau Lafitte Plaintiffs obtained a state court order declaring St. Bernard Parish’s decision to extend
Provident’s building permits in February 2011 invalid under the Parish’s zoning laws.
St. Bernard Parish then filed a third-party claim against Provident.
“This action, which was limited to requests for injunctive relief stopping Provident’s construction on grounds of conflict with the zoning code, is moot because St. Bernard Parish has since repealed the zoning ordinance on which the Chateau Lafitte Plaintiffs’ claims are based; granted new building permits in July and November 2011; and issued occupancy certificates,” says the filing.