Boro Park Jews Gird to “prevent Forest Hills Fiasco”

The largely Orthodox Jewish community in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, announced today that it was banding together “to prevent a Forest Hills type of fiasco.” The United Orthodox Jewish Council of Boro Park said it was “prepared to meet any destructive influence which may directly affect the cohesiveness of this large Orthodox Jewish community.”

The group claimed that it has already succeeded “in preventing the construction of a massive 28 story structure in the heart of Boro Park related to the Maimonidies (Medical Center) complex.” The announcement came at a time when efforts by the predominantly Jewish community in Forest Hills, Queens, to prevent construction of a low-income housing project in that neighborhood suffered a major setback.

The NY State Court of Appeals, in a 6-1 decision, refused Friday to order a construction halt because of changes made in plans for the massive scatter-site housing project since it was originally approved by the NY City Board of Estimate and City Planning Commission in 1966. The Forest Hills project has been a subject of bitter controversy with opponents charging that it would destroy the neighborhood’s homogeneity, lead to an increase in crime and put unbearable strains on existing transportation and school systems.

Efforts to stop the project, initiated by Forest Hills residents, won in State Supreme Court last Feb. 16 when Justice Irving H. Saypol ruled that plans had changed so significantly that re-approval of the Board of Estimate was required. Work was permitted to continue however pending appeals and Judge Saypol’s ruling was overturned by the Appellate Division May 4.

The latter’s unanimous ruling was sustained Friday by Supreme Court Justice Charles D. Breitel, speaking for the majority, who ruled that the changes were insufficient to warrant a review of the project by the city. Judge John F. Scileppi dissented, insisting that the project was “radically different” from the one approved six years ago.

The original plans called for a “probable” 828 apartments in seven buildings, the highest being 22 stories. The project under construction has 840 units in three 24 story buildings.

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