Lawsuit accuses Darien of race discrimination
A housing developer has filed a lawsuit against the Darien Planning & Zoning Commission as well as its chairman, Fred Conze, claiming he was denied an affordable housing permit because of the town's effort to exclude minorities from Darien.
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 28 by Chris Hamer, who, in 2008, attempted to build 10 affordable residential condominium units in town. However, according to court documents, Hamer claimed P&Z denied him permits and engaged with private residents to open a lawsuit against him which resulted in his property being foreclosed on.
"The defendants have followed a pattern of official misconduct designed to exclude African-Americans from the Town of Darien, by keeping housing costs prohibitively high and preventing the construction of affordable housing units which would be attractive to minorities," court documents state.
Hamer filed an appeal with Connecticut Superior Court after the permits were denied, but lawsuits were brought against Hamer which resulted in "the defendants succeed[ing] in so increasing the plaintiffs' costs that the subject property was lost to foreclosure and the plaintiffs were unable to proceed with their affordable housing proposal. Thereupon, the aforesaid appeal was dismissed as moot," according to court document.
The document alleges the town rejected the permit because it wanted to prevent people of African American ancestry from living in Darien.
Hamer is suing the town under the 14th amendment, the Fair Housing Act and the Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities Act. He is seeking punitive damages, compensatory damages, attorney fees and costs.
Town Counsel Wayne Fox and Hamer's attorney, John Williams, were both contacted for comment but were out of their offices at the time of publication.