(JTA) — The developers of a housing project in southeastern New York have sued public officials for trying to prevent the development to keep Hasidic Jews from moving in.
The lawsuit filed earlier this month by The Greens at Chester developers in federal court in White Plains, New York alleges that town and county residents and officials attempted to prevent the project’s development due to opposition to a Hasidic influx. The complaint included links to video clips and statements made at public and private meetings to bolster the claim, the Times Herald Record reported.
The developers have asked the court to reverse the town’s building-permit denials for homes that comply with approved plans. They also are seeking $80 million in compensatory damages, $20 million in punitive damages, and compensation for property they say the town effectively has taken away, according to the newspaper.
Greens at Chester, a 431-home development being built on a 110-acre site , is slated be a predominantly Hasidic community for up to 3,000 people.
Then-Chester Supervisor Alex Jamieson told the Times Herald-Record in September 2018 that local residents feared the neighboring Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel would expand into the town in order to explain why it was buying up large available property tracts in the town.
The plaintiffs bought the 117-acre development site for $12.1 million in October 2017. The project of 431 homes had been approved by the town Planning Board four years earlier.
Town officials met twice with the new buyers to convince them to switch from a residential development to a mall, promising “expedited approval,” the Times Herald Record reported. The following day, the town offered to buy the property for first $20 million and then $30 million, showing its “great desperation to keep Hasidic Jews out of Chester,” the lawsuit says, according to the newspaper.