(A7) A New Jersey township has settled a long-running legal fight with an area synagogue over land it wanted to turn into a new school.
This week, Howell Township approved a bond of $8,100,000 to buy the synagogue-owned property on Ford Road as agreed to in a settlement with Congregation Kollel, Patch reported.
The synagogue had previously launched a lawsuit against Howell, claiming anti-Semitism.
Five year sago, Congregation Kollel’s attempt to turn the property into a new school was blocked by Howell, resulting in alleged anti-Semitism by residents and groups opposed to the school, including on social media. Eventually, the synagogue filed the lawsuit.
The township’s settlement with the Jewish group also includes $675,000 to cover fees and costs.
In a statement, the township’s lawyer Joseph Clark said that Howell will pay $125,000 and its insurance will cover the rest.
The settlement was passed unanimously at a council meeting.
Councillor Pamela Richmond told the news outlet that the settlement was a “black mark” for Howell. She referred to the behavior of the groups accused of anti-Semitism as “very disturbing.”
“I’m all for free speech. However, there’s a huge difference between free speech and hate speech. Stirring the pot, inflaming religious tensions and pitting people against one another is dangerous and absolutely uncalled for,” she said.
She noted that the costs the city has to pay could have been avoided, denouncing the behavior of protestors as “reckless, ugly and irresponsible” for “at times very direct anti-Semitic comments.”