Village of Airmont residents are facing a crisis of faith -both in their government and the U.S. Constitution.
A dark cloud filled with foreboding hangs over the thousands who can’t comprehend why any village board would try to inject religious observances into civil law. By the 1970’s, New York had practically done away with observing Sunday as the “official day of rest.” Stores are now open seven days a week, and religious and legal holidays are no exception. However, the village of Airmont mayor and trustees are now attempting to expand an existing noise ordinance to create more mandated quiet hours on weekends.
As if dealing with “block busting” isn’t hard enough for Airmont residents who have no desire to sell their homes—or the plethora of private schools springing up in private homes that see buses and delivery trucks coming at all hours in what were once strictly residential areas—both homeowners and businesses face the possibility of having a “noise ordinance” expanded, further limiting their ability to enjoy their property.
Airmont’s Mayor Nathan Bubel and the Board of Trustees –sans the village’s Deputy Mayor Brian Downey, who was recently arrested for an arsenal of illegal guns and fake government IDs he had stashed in his home—were planning to hold a public hearing last Monday on a new ordinance that, if passed, would halt outdoor noise on weekends and holidays.
Village board members plan to enact legislation that will prohibit the use of lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, chain saws and other power tools used by homeowners to care for their property; the law extends to other power tools or construction equipment; and playing music at a level that can be heard by an adjoining property owner. The only exception would be the use of snowblowers during a storm to keep a path clear. The proposed amendment to the existing noise ordinance would extend quiet hours from 8:00PM to 8:00am, to 8:00pm to 10:00 am the following day on weekdays.
. As far as secular Airmont is concerned, this proposed new ordinance is an outright act of discrimination. “What can we do?” said one homeowner. “If we complain, we’re accused of being anti-Semetic. Is their law ‘OK for me, but not for thee?’ The melting pot’s not melting. They want us out of here or out of their sight.”
The public hearing is now scheduled for Monday, October 4 at 7 PM. Bubel has called for that meeting to be a Zoom format, rather than in-person, and covid provides a perfect excuse to do just that. Residents who have lived in Airmont for generations fear the noise ordinance will be incorporated into law and infringe on their civil rights, and the use of Zoom will only make it that much easier to push the law through.
Perplexed homeowners want to know why what’s good for the goose isn’t good enough for the gander, particularly when an orthodox cemetery planned 10,000 gravesites was also passed with little or no input from the public. Construction crews were on the site Sunday, September 19, clearing trees.
The gradual transformation of a secular municipality to religious one is the result of the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act, enacted in 1991. Intended to protect people from being barred for their religious beliefs or impeding on the care of those who are not able to care for themselves, essentially provides a toolkit that religious groups have successfully used to circumvent civil law and ethical responsibility to create orthodox municipalities. It appears the lawmakers who crafted RLUIPA failed to consider that scenario.
As the divide that continues to grow in Ramapo and other mini-municipalities in the mid-Hudson, where efforts to block massive housing tracts that are for one group of people, are making the front pages, and the mutual disdain is apparent.