Perplexing case of developer Lamm charging governmental bias

Posted By on September 21, 2014

Town, village deny claims

Developer Shalom Lamm's Bloomingburg housing project, the Villages at Chestnut Ridge, is at the center of controversy in this eastern Sullivan County community where a building moratorium is in effect.JOHN DeSANTO/Times Herald-Record

Published: 2:00 AM - 09/21/14

The battle against Shalom Lamm and his Hasidic housing development, school andnbusinesses is nothing more than "pervasive government-sponsored religious discrimination." It reflects an "anti Semitic animus" that's "unmistakable."

This is the thrust of a $25 million federal lawsuit just filed by Lamm-affiliated businesses, organizations and individuals against the Village of Bloomingburg, the Town of Mamakating and various officials, including Bloomingburg Mayor Frank Gerardi and Mamakating Supervisor Bill Herrmann.

Not only does the civil rights suit ask the United States District Court in White Plains to "end this unlawful campaign, to clear the roadblocks imposed upon lawful development," it aims to stop the Sept. 30 vote to dissolve Bloomingburg into Mamakating and the dissolution itself. That was proposed amid fears the village would be overwhelmed by Lamm's 396-home Hasidic development, which could more than quadruple the village's population of some 400.

Can you be anti-Hasidic and not anti-Semitic?

That was the question posed to one of the region's preeminent Jewish leaders, Rabbi Joel Schwab of Temple Sinai in Middletown, which sits between two Hasidic hot spots Bloomingburg and Kiryas Joel.

To know why the answer is not as black and white as the clothes the Hasidic men wear, Schwab also on the Orange County Human Rights Commission says you must first know why the Hasidim are considered "others," a group that doesn't share the values of the rest of the community and insulates itself from that community.

Because of their devotion, the Hasidim must live within walking distance of a synagogue and places for kosher food and school.

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Perplexing case of developer Lamm charging governmental bias

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