Haverstraw votes to settle lawsuit filed by local congregation

The town of Haverstraw has voted to approve a settlement in an on going lawsuit with K’Hal Bnei Tora, which would allow
construction to proceed on the proposed house of worship at 62 Riverglen Drive in Theils. The move was approved dur-
ing a Joint special meeting of the Haverstraw Town Board and Planning Board on Monday, where both boards voted against
fighting a lawsuit leveled at Haverstraw by the Orthodox con- gregation. K’Hal Bnei Tora of Mount Ivy is seeking millions
of dollars in damages from both the town and three Planning Board members who voted against the project in August. The congregation has until later this month to respond to Haver- straw’s decision.

Over a hundred concerned residents attended Monday’s meeting, where many expressed frustration at the Board’s joint decision. Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard Phillips responded to criticism stating that attorneys have told town of-
ficials that if they chose to defend themselves against the case, “we would be laughed out of court.”

The congregation filed its litigation after over two years of seeking approval for construction from the town board, which had decided to grant the school necessary variances and environmental approvals before voting against the project. The congregation has accused the town of religious discrimination and expressed their own outrage that Haverstraw had agreed to special land use exceptions and then vetoed the proposal.

Despite the town’s reluctance to enter a legal battle with K’Hal Bnei Tora, a group of local residents (mainly neighbors of the proposed synagogue) are moving forward with a countersuit according to attorney Elliott Louis Pell. Filled on Dec. 12, the lawsuit is intended to force a review of RLUIPA (the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of
2000), federal legislation that the congregation has accused the town of violating. Some residents expressed concern that the property, which is currently zoned as a single family home, is an unsuitable location for a school.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login