- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

A predominantly white Ohio suburb won a unanimous Supreme Court victory yesterday in a nearly 10-year fight about construction of a low-income apartment complex.
A nonprofit group that sought permission to build the apartments in Cuyahoga Falls, outside Akron, did not show that the city had a racial motive in delaying construction, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the court.
The group should not be able to press ahead with a $3 million lawsuit over claims that city officials teamed with disgruntled voters to stave off integration, the court said.
The apartments went up after a court overturned a 1996 referendum by city voters opposing construction. Buckeye Community Hope Foundation said city officials coached residents opposed to the apartments and used the referendum process to sabotage the project.
The city's mayor was among opponents to the 72-unit complex, known as Pleasant Meadows.
The city said the referendum was a legitimate way for residents to debate concerns about housing values and quality of life, and the high court agreed.
"City officials enabled public debate on the referendum to take place, thus advancing significant First Amendment interests," the court said.
The city followed its own, nondiscriminatory policies in handling the referendum, and cannot be blamed for reportedly racist motives of some of the referendum backers, the high court said.
The developers "point to no evidence suggesting that these official acts were themselves motivated by racial animus," Justice O'Connor wrote.
Less than 2 percent of Cuyahoga Falls' nearly 50,000 residents are black. Black households make up a large percentage of Buckeye Community Hope's low-income housing projects in the state.
The Bush administration backed Cuyahoga Falls in the case, City of Cuyahoga Falls v. Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, 01-1269.

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