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NJ town delays vote on housing case settlement

11-6-13

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey town is delaying a vote on a settlement in a housing discrimination case that’s being prepared for arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Mount Holly Township Council changed course Wednesday afternoon and announced it wouldn’t vote later in the day on a legal settlement with residents of the Mount Holly Garden neighborhood.

Residents sued over a redevelopment plan that they claim would force them out of the neighborhood. They say it amounts to discrimination because most people affected are minorities.

In a statement, township solicitor George Saponaro says the sides are still trying to “finalize procedural aspects” of the case.

If it’s not settled before then, the nation’s highest court is scheduled to hear arguments Dec. 4.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Officials in a southern New Jersey town were expected to vote Wednesday evening on a proposed settlement to close a decade-long housing discrimination case just before it heads to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The deal would end a decade of litigation between Mount Holly Township and some residents of the Mount Holly Gardens neighborhood.

The town, about 20 miles east of Philadelphia, has a redevelopment plan to raze the area to make way for new homes and stores.

Residents sued, saying their payments for selling would not be enough to buy new homes in the area. They also argued the plan amounted to discriminations because most of the residents are minorities.

The Obama administration supports the theory used in the case — that discrimination can be found based on results of a project or practice, not just whether discrimination is intentional.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case Dec. 4, though a settlement could make that moot. If the court does hear the case, it would be one of the most highly anticipated items on its docket this term.

Full details of the proposed settlement have not been announced, but some residents have said they expect to receive homes in the new development as part of the deal.