In an article titled “Town Will Enter Mediation Over Civil Rights Flap”, Karin Crompton of the New London paper, The Day, reported that East Lyme and Landmark Development Group, LLC, will engage in mediation to attempt to resolve a federal civil rights lawsuit. The developer claims that the town has blocked a proposal to build hundreds of housing units in order to prevent minorities from moving to town. The town maintains that the site at issue is pristine woodland bordering the Niantic River that should be preserved as open space. The article notes that the lawsuit was filed in October, 2003. The judge presiding over the case proposed that the parties try mediation.
It is difficult at first glance to see how a compromise could be reached that would be acceptable to both parties, if one demands 1,700 housing units and the other demands none. Yet the mediation provides a process for exploring ideas that go far beyond a “cutting the baby in half” solution. The mediation process can open up possibilities for creative solutions that further the parties’ real interests, whatever their stated positions. Parties mediating in good faith may reach a resolution that better suits their goals than rolling the dice on an all-or-nothing decision imposed upon them.