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Dennis Kay, mayor of Hudson Valley Town that fought ultra-Orthodox, dies at 65

Dennis Kay, mayor of the Hudson Valley, NY, town of Airmont, which reached a settlement with the US government in 2011 over a lawsuit over exclusionary zoning, died April 15 at 65.

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He was elected to the Airmont Village Board of Trustees in 2002 and was mayor from 2007. Village Trustee Veronica Boesch told a local newspaper that Kay’s death shocked many. “Dennis was such an important part of the village for so long. He’s going to be missed,” she said.

Boesch said Kay had brought “a judicious and fair-minded approach to the board following a period of turnover and political rancor.” She didn’t specify the issues to which she was referring, but in 2011, Kay signed a settlement with the US over a 2005 lawsuit the government filed against Airmont’s ban on schools with housing, an ordinance created before Kay was mayor that was viewed as aimed at keeping Orthodox yeshivot from being established in the town.

In 1991, federal prosecutors sued and later won a case against the Rockland County community after it had incorporated itself and passed zoning restricting religious establishments to large lots and preventing them from opening in private houses. Both moves were seen as designed to prevent Orthodox Jews from moving into the community.

Kay said in 2011 he hoped the settlement would “end the federal government’s scrutiny of the village, calling the community diverse and open to all,” the blog Failed Messiah reported. "We feel we have worked with the U.S. attorney, and with the formulation of this agreement, it should put us all in compliance," Kay said.

Kay was born in Brooklyn, served in the U.S. Army and was a food industry sales representative in the food industry before entering local politics. He was Boy Scout Rockland District commissioner and board member of a local soccer league.

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Follow the Eulogizer on Twitter @TheEulogizer

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