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Feds Sue New York Town Over Zoning Laws Targeting Jews

The Manhattan US attorney’s office has sued the town of Airmont for antisemitism for the third time in as many decades — arguing the town’s zoning laws are engineered to stop Orthodox Jewish residents from conducting religious services in their homes or establishing private schools.

That’s after two prior court judgments shutting down similar bigoted measures, a Manhattan federal lawsuit alleges.

The renewed efforts against the Orthodox community allegedly began in 2017 with an administration elected on an openly anti-Hasidic platform, according to federal prosecutors.

That same year, Airmont instituted a nearly two-year pause on new developments to prevent the Jewish community from developing property, the suit says.

The following year, the village amended its zoning code to ban religious groups from worshiping in private residences — a measure clearly intended to target Orthodox Jews, the federal complaint alleges. Airmont also unlawfully implemented new zoning rules that blocked residents from having home ritual baths.

To further thwart the community, Airmont’s leaders launched a new land use application process to make it difficult and costly for Orthodox Jewish residents to make minor alterations to their homes, the filing states.

Wednesday’s suit marks the third time that federal authorities have intervened in the town’s affairs to stop discrimination against the Hasidic community, Acting US. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.

“As a jury found over two decades ago, the Village of Airmont was born out of a spirit of animus against a religious minority,” Strauss said in a statement.

“Sadly, rather than working to overcome that shameful legacy, Airmont has flagrantly ignored the terms of a court judgment and implemented land use practices that by design and operation are again meant to infringe unlawfully on the rights of a minority religious community.”

The prior lawsuits resulted in judgments against the village for the illegal practices, first in 1996, after a jury trial, and again in 2011, authorities said.

The village did not immediately return a request for comment.