Court favors AvalonBay

ORANGE - While the Town of Orange lost its claim against AvalonBay under the Federal Fair Housing Act, it also was not able to hold up its bid to utilize eminent domain proceedings to halt the development of 168 luxury apartments to be located on nine acres in an industrial zoned location.

In its ruling, the court cited the fact that the nine acres had been zoned for housing but Orange rescinded the regulations after AvalonBay announced its plans.

It also said since the industrial park plan was initiated after AvalonBay filed its application and that Orange moved to condemn the nine acres before the industrial plan was finished were deciding factors in the ruling.

First Selectman Mitchell Goldblatt believes that a silver lining is hidden in the court decision.

"Although the court found the park plan unacceptable, it did not say another plan couldn't be enacted," Goldblatt said.

Adding that the town now needs to make a decision on whether it wants to create another plan.

The first selectman said that determination would be made in the very near future.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Michael Paolini said he was "disappointed" by the ruling adding that housing does not fit in an industrial area.

"The park plan makes more sense for the town and property owners than residential use," Paolini said.

"There are seven buildings on nine acres (planned). That is too intense of a development for an industrial area," Paolini said. Adding that last year the court ordered the commission to approve the development.

"We are very gratified by the Supreme Court's ruling," said Mark Forlenza, senior vice president for development of AvalonBay. "This is a significant victory for property owners, as it shows that the considerable powers of public officials have limits and cannot be abused."