Monday, March 6, 2017

Hamodia: On Jackson Dorm ban

"The Roshei Yeshiva told us clearly "We need to speak up and have our voices heard" Need to continue the momentum for next meeting  Avi Schnall (@Avi_schnall) March 1, 2017

Hamodia-LAKEWOOD - Faced with a strong show of opposition from its Orthodox residents, the Jackson town council delayed voting on an ordinance that would ban the construction of school dormitories. The measure has engendered controversy as many see it as aimed at curtailing the recent influx of Jewish families as the borders of the neighboring Lakewood community rapidly expand.



The decision to temporarily pull the proposal came during a council meeting, which although open to the public, typically does not draw large crowds. The presence of roughly 150 Orthodox Jackson residents who came to voice their protest Tuesday night seems to have had a direct impact on the council’s decision to reconsider the ban.

Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of Agudath Israel of New Jersey, told Hamodia that upon learning of the proposal, he and several Jackson residents consulted with Harav Malkiel Kotler, shlita, Rosh Yeshivah of Lakewood’s Bais Medrash Govoha, who encouraged the community to turn out en masse to oppose the proposal.

“This has nothing to do with dormitories, this is about stopping frum people from moving to Jackson. There’s no one else who would be building dormitories there,” said Rabbi Schnall. “When 150 people show up to a meeting, it makes a strong impression, and that’s what we thought the situation called for.”

According to one attendee, the council was clearly caught by surprise by the turnout and made an unscheduled break in the middle of the meeting, seemingly to discuss among themselves how to proceed. Ultimately, an announcement was made that a technical error had been made and that the ordinance would have to be reviewed by the planning board before a vote on its implementation.

Chaim Bornstein, one of several Orthodox Jackson residents to testify at the proceedings, said that since he moved to Jackson his neighbors have been exceedingly friendly and “constantly offer helping hands,” but that the dorm ban revealed another side of the town.

“The motive [for the ordinance] coveys a message that Jews are not wanted in Jackson. It’s insulting, it’s un-Jackson, and it’s un-American,” he said.

Attorney Glenda Rath addressed the council on behalf of the law firm of Storzer and Greene, which specializes in cases relating to religious discrimination in land use.

She labeled the proposal “thinly veiled discrimination” that would not hold up in courts.

This is not the first time that dormitory construction has become a point of contention between the Orthodox community and residents of areas surrounding Lakewood. Last year, a federal appeals court overturned a decision by Ocean Township to block construction by Yeshivah Naos Yaakov. The yeshivah argued that its denial was based on religious animus, supported by a plethora of anti-Jewish statements found on the website of a group opposing the construction.

Yet, several speakers at Tuesday’s meeting testified that the ordinance has nothing to do with regulating who moves to the town and is only designed to preserve Jackson’s suburban atmosphere.

“To my friends in the Orthodox community, we welcome you, this is not meant to target you … but this is a suburban community which is not equipped to handle this [type of land use],” said Joseph Sullivan. “This is a sound ordinance aimed at not allowing the type of substandard building we have seen in other towns and the majority of people support it.”

Rabbi Schnall said that after the meeting, in conversation with council members, “some” seemed open to the arguments presented and said that the matter was being reconsidered.

A request for comment to the president of Jackson’s town council was not returned in time for publication.

23 comments:

  1. Based on the speeches from the yungeliet where most of them said that their neighbors all welcomed them and some even mentioned that they want to one day have a BBQ together ,.then why didn't a single neighbor come to this town meeting and stick up for them?
    Some food for thought.

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    1. BecAuse they don't want dorms in their town. Neither do 3/4 of the frum people in Jackson who refused to go the meeting.

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    2. Because they don't want dorms in Jackson . And neither do a good amount of the frum people living in Jackson who didn't show up to the meeting.

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  2. Keep yelling wolf, again and again, and see where that takes you. When a single town in this country won't want to have Jews move-in, because all we know how to do is yell "anti-Semitism". How foolish and narrowminded. No sane person in this whole country wants dormitories in their backyard.

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    1. Excuse me, but Chicken Licken, Henny Penny, Turkey Lurkey, Goosey Loosey, Ducky Lucky and me know that the sky is falling and we must not stop until everyone knows. Foxy Loxy graciously asked us to his place for dinner so we can plan our campaign. If he is as good a cook as he is at weather forecasting the meal should be one to die for.

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  3. It's interesting how the Roshey yeshiva put pressure on the jackson yungeliet to go out and make their voices heard at the jackson meeting but not a peep from these rabonim regarding their own town of Lakewood in regards to traffic,density, or the cedarbridge mall.
    I gotta tell u I'm embarrassed to be in this town of sheker and hypocrisy.

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    1. shhh... someone bought up cheap land in Jackson

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    2. And of course the agudah of NJ rep. "Schnall" asked everybody if they plan on opening a school or a dorm. Who is he kidding?

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  4. Excuse me to all of the above commented. I AM a drum resident of Jacksonville and I went to the meeting I was not pressured by anybody (incidentally if my r"y told me to go-that doesn't include ak-i would, I don't think listening to daas Torah being pressured) and I agree that noone-myself included-want dorms in our backyard, but the ordinance went WAY beyond that. Noone wants schools in their backyard either but if your town passed an ordinance banning schools ANYWHERE in your town I'm sure you would disagree. So please stop making straw arguments and then smearing us claiming we can't think for ourselves

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    1. Is that Jacksonville Florida, or NC?

      Also, what is a "drum" resident? Do you play the drums? Any other musical instruments? Also, can you clarify (cuz you didn't say), are you a frum resident?

      A freilichen Purim

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    2. Do they have a different use of hyphens in Jackson? I don't disagree with anything you said, although the term Daas Torah gets thrown around to easily nowadays, I can understand people erring on the side of too few dormitories than too many.

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    3. If everyone only goes by what their Roshey yeshiva want them to to do or say then why is it that in the Lakewood township meetings you have hundreds protesting the current density ,traffic, mall building in lakewood. If the Roshey didn't say to protest how can u and I protest.?

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    4. You could rationalize it anyway you want to make yourself feel comfortable, but no, you cannot think for yourself. They don't want dormitories, and they don't want to new schools built. Basically, they don't want their town to look like Lakewood. Is that too hard to understand?

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    5. First of all sorry about all the mistakes auto-complete is a pain.
      Secondly I didn't say EVERYONE listens to their r"y. Third, I didn't say you have to ask your r"y if you want to protest but if my r"y asked me to then I wouldn't say no.
      Fourth, to kikesonbikes, I find it hard to understand how a new school, or even a few schools, makes Jackson look like Lakewood. Noone asked them to allow every variance and zoning change to be approved as in Lakewood.
      But I do appreciate how special you think you are that your able to think for yourself but noone on the other side is smart enough for that

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    6. The fact that you think that Lakewood became like this overnight, tells me exactly how you cannot think for yourself. It always starts with one or two schools.

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  5. Guys if you have any grievances attached are the councils memebrs emails, be respectful.
    Mikereina@jacksontwpnj.net
    councilmanbressi@jacksontwpnj.net
    annieup@jacksontwpnj.net
    councilmancalogero@jacksontwpnj.net
    councilmannixon@jacksontwpnj.net
    councilmanmartin@jacksontwpnj.net

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  6. They also don't want shuls or any type of public building catering to Orthodox Jews. I understand that you find that acceptable , but many people don't. The US govt created a law that says it is reasonable for people to have a right to have religious institutions near to them if that is what their religion requires. So we don't agree with you. Thank you

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    1. But why are dorms for those schools a necessity? I have never seen a religious document that requires dorms for education.

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    2. Do you have proof that they do not want any Shuls or any type of public building catering to orthodox Jews? What Law has the US government created to accommodate that? And since when is a dormitory a religious institution?

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    3. Kikesonbikes, again with a non-sequitur. Noone claimed a dorm is a requirement for a religious institution. Religious discrimination does not require the discrimination to be on something that is a institute of their religion (though there is applications of it there to, for example, not working on shabbos). If someone does not want to sell cookies to Jews that is religious discrimination even though cookies are not a religious institution. Hence, if if the only people seeking to build dorms are Jews, it is entirely plausible that a ban on dorms is religious discrimination. I'm sorry I wrote so long but apparently you need it to be spoon-fed an explanation

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    4. So any time that a Township does not acquiesce to the every whim of a religious group, in this case Orthodox Jews, then it is automatically religious discrimination? That seems like foolhardy logic.

      The fact is that the vast majority of Jackson Residents, including most of the Orthodox that came to the last meeting in Jackson, do not want Dorms. That sounds a lot like people agreeing across religious lines. Dorms are not necessary to have a school and disallowing Dorms for schools does not infringe on the free exercise of religion, or infringe on the right to have a religious school.

      Proposed Schools - like Cross St - should be denied, not because they are from a certain religion, but because that application was too large for the piece of property they proposed it on. Everything functionally about that application is why it was denied and why it should have been denied. The reason Jackson residents "fear" becoming like Lakewood is because in Lakewood that application would have been approved in minutes despite all of the site plan deficiencies. That's not discrimination, it's following the law.

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    5. Exactly, you agree with everything I wrote. Noone against the ordinance asked anything to be approved and agree 100% that an application for a too large proposal can and should be denied. We just don't want a blanket ban (essentially) on schools.
      I was one of the orthodox that came to the last meeting (but thanks for claiming to know what we want) and I agree that not one of us wants a dorm in our backyard. But as I've repeated many times, we disagree with a BLANKET ban.
      I don't understand why we keep going in circles. If anyone has a problem with what we are actually against please explain. But everytime someone says they have a problem with it they say because the school is too big for the lot or they don't want a dorm in their backyard. For the last time-NOBODY DISAGREES with that but that is NOT what this ordinance is about

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  7. Ordinance which passed was only on dorms.

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