Suit claims Woodbury zoning restricts property owners
By Chris Mckenna • Times Herald-Record
WOODBURY — A new lawsuit is seeking to overturn the Village of Woodbury's zoning law, calling it discriminatory because it doesn't allow high-density housing in an area where Hasidic families have settled.
The case, filed by a newly incorporated entity called "United Fairness," also asks the state Supreme Court to remove western Woodbury from the village so its occupants can create their own municipality.
The court papers resurrect an issue that has been largely dormant since residents voted overwhelmingly in 2006 to create a village with virtually the same borders as the Town of Woodbury — a pre-emptive move that prevented any smaller villages from forming and adopting new zoning.
At the time, supporters feared a densely populated Hasidic community like neighboring Kiryas Joel could emerge in a semi-rural area zoned for single-family homes.
The United Fairness lawsuit purports to represent "Jewish residents and property owners" in a "separate, built-up community" of 1.2 square miles. The plaintiffs complain about having no central water and sewer service and argue their area "will be more effectively served with municipal services if a separate village can be formed."
James Klatsky, the Manhattan attorney representing United Fairness, declined to identify his clients on Tuesday, but said their complaints apply to about 40 to 50 Woodbury property owners.
"My clients have sought to build on the property they own, and they've been rebuffed," Klatsksy said.
The plaintiffs have asked the court to void the village zoning code, create a special zoning district for their area and ensure they are represented on the village planning and zoning boards. They also want their territory extracted from the village, which would appear to make their other demands moot.
The lawsuit also seeks to invalidate the village's request for state permission to merge its governing body with the Town of Woodbury's to save money. Bills to that effect were introduced in the Assembly and state Senate this year but went nowhere.
The simple answer here is actually a question: Why did hasidim settle in a village with low-density housing mandated by law?
Past that, hasidim could change the zoning law by following the deomcratic process. But they can't because they don't have enough votes to make change.
No one barred them from living in the Village of Woodbury, and there is no illegal housing discrimination taking place there.
[Hat Tips: Seymour, SW.]