Select Board Statement on 59 Middlesex Avenue

The following is a press release from the Select Board & Town Manager

Reading, MA — On April 22, 2021, the Select Board settled a federal district court case, 59 Middlesex Ave, LLC v. Town of Reading, and resolved a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Housing Act complaint, both filed by the owner of 59 Middlesex Avenue against the Town. The property owner alleged that the Town violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to issue a certificate of occupancy to operate a congregate living facility at the property.

Once a HUD complaint is filed, the case is handed to an investigator who reviews the matter and recommends further action to the Department of Justice. HUD is required to review and issue a decision within 100 days. The Town admitted no such discrimination but, balancing the cost of litigation and the consequences of any potentially negative finding by HUD, the Select Board concluded that resolving the matter expeditiously would be appropriate. Thus, the Board agreed to enter into a Conciliation Agreement with HUD and the property owner to resolve the HUD complaint. The Conciliation Agreement directs the Town to issue a certificate of occupancy, provided certain conditions are met, for enumerated protected uses at the site. The agreement also requires payment of $110,000 to the property owner. The Town’s insurance will pay $100,000. The remaining $10,000 will be paid by the Town.

In addition, the Select Board and the property owner executed a Settlement Agreement, requiring the property owner to withdraw his federal district court case upon payment of the $110,000 outlined in the Conciliation Agreement. The Settlement Agreement also releases the Town from any future claims related to this matter.

The Select Board is fully committed to upholding the Fair Housing Act and ensuring that Reading is a welcoming place to live. Further, the Board is dedicated to fostering an environment of inclusivity.

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