The Davenport Civil Rights Commission is considering legal action against the rezoning tied to Palmer College of Chiropractic's campus improvement plan.

Last week, the Plan and Zoning Commission voted 9-0 in favor of recommending Palmer's application to rezone more than 38 acres to a planned institutional district. 

Two outside fair housing experts had found the plan could impact a protected group disproportionately, something called disparate impact. 

The commission went into a closed session during Tuesday's meeting where it discussed its options regarding Palmer. 

Civil Rights Director Latrice Lacey said the commission went into closed session to discuss litigation, but could not disclose anything because it was confidential pursuant to Iowa Code.

Palmer's 10-year master plan envisioned $50 million in campus improvements, including amenities to improve the student experience, but before it could move forward, it required city approvals because Palmer wanted to demolish 12 historic properties.

Among the conditions was the City Council approval of the rezoning to a PID.

Before the Plan and Zoning Commission discussed that rezoning in September, the Civil Rights Commission voiced concerns about violations of the Fair Housing Act. The Plan and Zoning agenda item was tabled so that a disparate impact study could be completed.

A consultant's study found that Palmer's plan would not create a disparate impact.

Lacey sought outside opinions to look at the analysis, and two experts found issues with the validity of the results.

At last week's Plan and Zoning Commission meeting, staff from the Community Planning and Economic Development Department said the analysis was completed in a professional matter and recommended the rezoning.

During the regular session of Tuesday's Civil Rights Commission meeting, commissioners discussed the disparate impact analysis and issues addressed by the fair housing experts.

Alderwoman Rita Rawson, 5th Ward, called the study "pointless," but said that was not the accuracy of the data, but because Palmer owns a lot of the property around its campus.

Rawson said the issues raised could potentially be solved if the city moves forward with an urban revitalization plan that creates overlay districts for neighborhoods.

"Not to diminish this specific issue geographically, but it's very similar if you look at (St.) Ambrose (University), Genesis East, that is expanding and buying up houses," Rawson said. "It's something that's not limited to this, but something as a city we need to address."

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