Connect with us

Special Features

White Plains Developer Sues Orange County Town for Discriminating Against Chassidic Jews

Published

on

A housing developer in the White Plains has sued the Town of Chester, Orange County and their officials for allegedly trying to stop the influx of Hasidic Jewish residents into the Chester neighborhood. The developers had plans to build a 431-home project, suitable for roughly 3,000 residents, which would be geared mainly towards Hasidic Jews. Photo Credit: https://chester-ny.gov/

By Hadassa Kalatizadeh

A housing developer in the White Plains has sued the Town of Chester, Orange County and their officials for allegedly trying to stop the influx of Hasidic Jewish residents into the Chester neighborhood. The developers had plans to build a 431-home project, suitable for roughly 3,000 residents, which would be geared mainly towards Hasidic Jews. The developers, known as Greens at Chester LLC, had purchased the 117-acre development site in October 2017 for $12.1 million. The site already had the permits for the 431-homes approved by the Chester Planning Board from four years earlier. As per VIN News, local officials allegedly worried it would become an expansion of the neighboring Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, and tried to stop the already approved project.

The lawsuit, filed on July 19th in federal court, also names the following persons as defendants: Robert Valentine, the Chester Town Supervisor, and Alex Jamieson, his predecessor; Steve Neuhaus, the Orange County Executive; James Farr, the town Building Inspector; and four Chester Town Board members.

As reported by the Times Herald Record, the lawsuit alleges that after the property purchase, town officials met twice with the new developers in the Town Hall to try to convince them to alter their plans. The suit contends that Valentine urged the plaintiffs to “create a non-Hasidic community,” and promised “expedited approval” if they switched to a mall or commercial project which would match the Legoland theme park being constructed in Goshen. The town showed its “great desperation to keep Hasidic Jews out of Chester” by offering the developers to purchase the property above their cost, at $20 million, and raising the offer up to $30 million. “The idea is to keep the Hasidic out so that they can’t control the Town Board,” Jamieson was quoted for saying last September.

The 100+ page complaint includes quoted statements and links to video clips of residents and officials making comments at public and private meetings allegedly reflecting the discriminatory opposition to a Hasidic settlement. As per the court filed complaint, the defendants tried to disrupt the construction because “they feared the homes would be purchased and occupied by Hasidic Jewish families, whom Defendants regard as ‘threats’ to the ‘character’ of the Town.”

The developers are requesting that the court undo the town’s denials of the building-permit denials, and order issuance of permits for any houses that comply with plans approved in 2013. The suit is also seeking $80 million in compensatory damages for each of eight claims, $20 million in punitive damages for four of those claims, and compensation for property they say the town basically took away. They maintain the town imposed costly and unusual requirements as prerequisites, such as having the developers: move a road they had started building, pay for a full-time site inspector, and buy easements from neighbors to move a sewer line.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement --

Trending

Daily Newsletter

Get all the breaking news delivered right to your inbox as it happens

Sign Up Now!

ONE MONTH FREE

At Your Doorstep

No more hassles running to the newsstand, as each week for a month, you can now sit back, relax and enjoy the Jewish Voice in the comfort of your own home!