Sunday, April 03, 2016

U.S. Appeals Court Gives The Boot To Downstate NY Yeshiva's Fair Housing, Other Civil Rights Claims That Communities Used Restrictive Zoning To Curtail Expansion Of Hasidic Neighborhoods; Rabbi's Lawsuit Seeking $100 Million In Damages Based On "Nothing More Than Conclusory, Unsubstantiated Assertions" Of Civil Rights Violations

In Rockland County, New York, The Journal News reports:
  • A Ramapo yeshiva that had accused several villages of anti-Hasidic bias never provided any evidence to support its accusations, a federal appeals court ruled [] in dismissing its civil rights lawsuit.

    The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upheld a decision by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas last March to throw out the lawsuit filed by Modos Chofetz Chaim.(1)

    The latest decision will likely end the yeshiva's long legal fight against Pomona, Chestnut Ridge, Wesley Hills and Montebello and their officials, according to attorney Greg Sarcino, representing Pomona.
    The yeshiva accused the communities of incorporating as villages to curtail the expansion of Hasidic neighborhoods through restrictive zoning. It also claimed the villages tried to hide behind environmental laws in an attempt to block the construction of housing and a study center on Grandview Avenue — a use allowed under the town of Ramapo's adult student housing zone.

    Rabbi Aryeh Zaks, his family and other Chofetz Chaim officials claimed in their lawsuit that the villages conspired to deprive the yeshiva of its civil, religious and equal protection clause rights under the U.S. Constitution and the Fair Housing Act.

    Chofetz Chaim sought $100 million in damages.

    The yeshiva and Ramapo have also battled the same villages in state court since 2004 over accusations of zoning and fire violations at the development.

    In the federal case, the appeals court upheld Karas' 76-page decision, in which he ruled the rabbis "have offered nothing more than conclusory, unsubstantiated assertions" of civil rights violations.
For the story, see Appeals court: Ramapo yeshiva provided no proof of bias (Mosdos Chofetz Chaim can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but would need to claim a constitutional issue).
(1) Bernstein v. Village of Wesley Hills, 15-1192-cv (2nd Cir. March 23, 2016), aff'g 95 F. Supp. 3d 547 (S.D.N.Y. 2015).

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