Article Courtesy of The Florida
By David Bauerlein
Published December 11, 2017
Fairway Oaks residents took their long-running protest Thursday to the steps of
the Duval County Courthouse where they chanted for “economic justice” and called
attention to a suit that contends the city and HabiJax failed to tell them their
neighborhood was built in 2000 on the site of a former city landfill.
One of the protest signs had a photo of
former President Jimmy Carter, who lent a helping hand in
the building blitz of 85 homes for Fairway Oaks, with the
question, “Did HabiJax and the city tell you this is a
The city and HabiJax, which is the local chapter of Habitat
for Humanity, are seeking dismissal of the lawsuit on
grounds that it fails to build a factual case for its claims
and was filed years after the statute of limitations expired
for such litigation.
The protest outside the courthouse had some urgency because
Circuit Court Karen Cole had scheduled a hearing for
Thursday afternoon on the motions asking her to toss the
“Hopefully, the judge will not dismiss the case,” said
Nathaniel Borden, president of the Fairway Oaks Homeowners
Association. “It’s been a real long time coming and we’re
hoping this is the start of justice that’s due to us.”
As it turned out, the hearing Thursday afternoon in Cole’s
courtroom was a staid affair compared to the sign-carrying
Jack Krumbein, an attorney representing the residents, told
Cole he wanted to file an amended lawsuit within 10 days for
adding more claims.
Cole said the prospect of an amended lawsuit meant the city
and HabiJax needed a chance to review it for their dismissal
motions before she could make any rulings on whether the
suit should proceed.
When Fairway Oaks was constructed in 2000 in northwest
Jacksonville, it brought hordes of volunteers to the site as
part of a 17-day, 101-home Habitat for Humanity build. In
addition to Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, the build brought
former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp and Habitat founders
Millard and Linda Fuller.
Shirley Dempsey is one of the Fairway Oaks residents
involved in the lawsuit against city and Habijax.
Cole disclosed during the court hearing that she was
among the volunteers who helped with the home-building, saying she worked on
the siding of homes. None of the attorneys objected to Cole continuing as
the judge over the case.
Residents who moved into Fairway Oaks contend the flurry
of activity took place on ground that wasn’t suitable for homes. The suit
says the location used to be the former Castellano Dump, which the city
created in 1959. That then became the site of the Golf Brook Terrace
Apartment in 1971. After the city sold the apartment complex to HabiJax,
part of the complex was demolished to make way for Fairway Oaks and its 85
The lawsuit contends that residents have suffered health problems and their
homes have foundation issues because of Fairway Oaks’ location on the former
“We want the place closed down because it’s not livable,” said Shirley
Dempsey, carrying a sign saying “HabiJax let my people go.”
The suit seek class-action status on behalf of the residents.