Thursday, October 27, 2016
An upstate New York village and its host town will pay a Jewish developer $2.9 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that they tried to stop new housing for Hasidic Jews.
The Village of Bloomingburg and the Town of Mamakating agreed Friday to the settlement with Shalom Lamm and his Sullivan Farms II company. Under the settlement, the company will receive $1.595 million from Mamakating and $1.305 million from Bloomingburg. The insurance company for the locales will make the payments.
The trial was to begin Nov. 8.
The lawsuit, which was filed in September 2014, accused Bloomingburg and Mamakating of violating federal civil rights and fair housing laws by trying to stop the development of 396 townhouses that cater to Hasidic Jews and marketed to that group. They allegedly also rejected the conversion of a nearby house into a mikvah ritual bath.
Bloomingburg, which has 400 residents, is located in Sullivan County, in the Catskill Mountains area, about 75 miles north of Manhattan. Mamakating has 12,000 residents.
In April 2015, Mamakating and Bloomingburg filed a federal lawsuit against Lamm accusing him of fraud, bribery, racketeering, voter fraud and corruption of public officials. They claimed he bribed a former mayor, used a frontman to help mislead the village about his intentions for Chestnut Ridge and engaged in racketeering by promoting an enterprise that was corrupt on multiple levels. The lawsuit was later dismissed.
In the case that was settled, the plaintiffs alleged that Mamakating and Bloomingburg had engaged in an ongoing campaign of religious discrimination against the Hasidic Jewish community over the past three years.
The settlement "should remind the public that bigotry has no place in America," Lamm's attorney, Steven Engel, said in a statement.
"It is our hope that this ugly time is now behind us, and that all the residents of this beautiful region can live together in peace and mutual understanding," he said.
The settlement comes just months after the Sullivan County Board of Elections settled a lawsuit alleging that Board of Elections employees had attempted to cancel the voter registrations of some 160 Hasidic residents.
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