Town To Hold Special Referendum Over Sale Of School To Satmar
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Mount Hope, New York town board has set the date for a public referendum on the controversial sale of a shuttered school to a Satmar hasidic group, the Times Herald-Record reported.
The special referendum on the proposed sale of the Otisville Elementary School is scheduled for Feb. 25.
The sale is controversial in part because it is closely linked to what many residents see as a Satmar hasidic takeover of neighboring Bloomingburg where Satmar hasidim are in the process of building a 396-unit Satmar-only townhouse complex.
That development – which has so far only been advertised in the Satmar Yiddish-language press and which Satmar leaders and those advertisements name as a new Satmar village called Kiryas Yated Lev – almost certainly violates the federal Fair Housing Act and New york State housing law.
But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is a longtime friend of Satmar and has rarely done anything to contradict the wishes of the hasidic group’s two main leaders.
Satmar delivers its bloc vote – often tens of thousands of votes – based on the word of those Satmar leaders.
Local residents are also concerned about population density issues – Bloomingburg, for example, now has only 420 residents, none of who appear to be hasidic or Orthodox, and the population density is very low. While Mount Hope is larger, its population density is also very low.
Local residents fear the sudden change to high density housing and the resulting impact on the environment and on demands for county services and special education will radically increase taxes as it drives down their quality of life.
The Modern Orthodox developer of the Satmar project, Shalom Lamm, used a front man to hide the true nature of the development and, residents claim, to hide Fair Housing Act violations. He also allegedly bribed Bloomingburg’s mayor.
When Lamm’s true role in the project was revealed, Lamm went on the offensive, accusing bewildered local residents of anti-Semitism.