Jacksonville’s Planning Commission unanimously approved zoning changes Thursday for Springfield that pave the way for an apartment complex for the disabled and chronically homeless.
The approval is the first step in a settlement agreement between the city, two disability-rights nonprofits and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Disability Rights Florida and Jacksonville-based Ability Housing sued after Ability Housing’s permit request to build the complex in Springfield was rejected.
Ability Housing was awarded a $1.4 million grant in March 2014 to rehabilitate a 12-unit apartment building at 139 Cottage Ave. After the initial permit and appeal were rejected the DOJ opened an investigation in December 2015.
A year later, the federal agency filed its own lawsuit, saying the city provision preventing the permit violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The three parties reached a tentative settlement agreement, but it must be approved by City Council to prevent a court battle.
The settlement is expected to cost Jacksonville taxpayers close to $2 million in fines, fees and a mandated $1.5 million grant for permanent supportive housing.