Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Airmont, Central UTA settle lawsuit, dropping discrimination claims as school can expand 

The village has agreed to review a Hasidic Jewish school's expansion plans, after settling a federal civil rights lawsuit which claimed the village discriminated against and blocked the project.

Under the agreement reached in U.S. District Court, Central United Talmudical Academy of Monsey gets a promise that its updated expansion plans will be reviewed in a timely manner by the village land-use boards, while the village gets the school's promise to follow village procedures.

Airmont also is relieved of a legal burden. The village still faces a federal lawsuit from a coalition of the congregations and civil action by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan. The village previously lost two cases involving discriminatory zoning blocking residential houses of worship and dormitory housing involving Hasidic and Orthodox Jews since the village's 1991 incorporation.

"The parties agreed to a roadmap for Central UTA to apply for updated approvals for its school projects and operations," the attorneys said in a statement released Monday.

As part of the settlement, Airmont "agreed to fairly review Central UTA's project applications within reasonable deadlines and Central UTA agreed to work with the village's land use review process to ensure compliance with state and local law."

Under the agreement, Central UTA cannot reinstate the legal action against village officials, though the school can refile against the village if the agreement breaks down. The school's litigation continues against the Suffern Central School District for discrimination concerning the lack of busing for students from the private school.

Both sides will pay their own legal fees. The village's insurance covers fees to its attorney, Sokoloff Stern of Long Island. Central UTA attorneys include the Texas-based First Liberty Institute and the Albany-based firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna.


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