The act established standards for lending in such communities and can be used by community groups against banks with weak records to stymie them in a range of activities - from acquisitions to the installation of automated teller machines.
"Meridian Bank must provide adequate assurances that the needs of low- and moderate-income and minority people who live in areas serviced by the bank are being met," said the coalition's executive director, Phyllis Salowe-Kaye.
"So far, they haven't done this."
Meridian officials issued a statement that said such challenges were often used by community groups "as a means to leverage their demands."
"Meridian has had an excellent record of community reinvestment and recently received an outstanding rating from the Federal Reserve for our CRA- related efforts," the bank's statement read. "However, we feel it is premature at this time to sign a written agreement with any single organization. First, our acquisition negotiations are still in progress, and second, we have not had a chance to complete our own needs assessment of the South Jersey market."
Meridian, the Reading parent of Philadelphia's fifth-largest bank, announced its intention to buy the $108 million Cherry Hill National Bank, which is based in Medford, in July. At the same time, it proposed to buy most of Security Savings Bank of Vineland, a troubled $1.2 billion thrift.
Salowe-Kaye said her organization decided to file the challenge after meetings with Meridian officials in August failed to produce any specific commitments from the bankers.