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New Smyrna Beach Going To Mediation With Apartment Developer

Tuesday, August, 13, 2013

After a development company filed a federal lawsuit against the city of New Smyrna Beach, it’s been announced that the dispute will move into mediation.  The development company alleges that city officials violated state and federal fair housing laws to stop the creation of an apartment complex that would have included low income units as part of the building. 


Neighboring residents, who weren’t comfortable with the low income units inside the proposed new building, were the cornerstone of complaints.  The City Commission stood up to block changes to the development agreement, allowing the total number of units to be capped at 202.  In addition, the local Planning and Zoning Board denied a parking variance that would have cut down on the number of parking spaces required for the facility.  It’s hoped that mediation will allow both sides to address their concerns and present their evidence without the entire matter moving forward into the legal system any further. 


The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Orlando in February arguing racial discrimination.  The city failed to approve the building, which would have included 239 total units inside.  The mediation hearing is scheduled for August 19th.  Attorney Frank Gummey noted that very few cases actually end up going to trial, which references the past success that negotiations and mediation has had in resolving similar disputes. 


Keeping these disputes off the docket allows the court to manage other cases without becoming entirely overloaded, which ultimately drags out the time frame for all cases to be held and decided.  Mediation has been successful for different spectrums of the law, including foreclosures and employment issues.  Run by an experienced attorney, the mediation proceedings often result in quicker and more amenable resolutions than typical litigation outcomes, providing a powerful method of alternative dispute resolution.