Chester Greens LLC, based in Montebello, NY, last Friday sued the town of Chester, Orange County, as well as individual county officials, in federal court in White Plaints, for their opposition to a Chassidic development and discriminatory efforts to derail the already approved development, the Times Herald Record reported.
In 2017, Chester Greens, established in 2013, acquired for $12.1 million a 117-acre property in the Town of Chester, which already had a fully approved subdivision plan that the previous owner, Wilbur Fried, had reached in a court settlement with the town in 2010, for 431 homes.
The problem is that when the town of Chester settled for the new homes, it wasn’t aware they would come with Jews in black hats and long kapotas who talk funny and eat kugel.
The plaintiff demanded that the court reverse the town’s denials of a building-permit, as well as order $80 million in compensatory damages for each of eight claims, $20 million in punitive damages for four of the claims, and compensation for property the town allegedly took away.
The action alleges illegal, discriminatory conduct by the Town of Chester, County of Orange, and their highest officials and agents to obstruct a fully approved housing development in the Town of Chester.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants improvised a series of discriminatory policies to prevent construction by Chester Greens of any of the already approved 431 homes. The suit suggests this was done because, by their own account, the nice folks of Chester feared that the homes would be purchased and occupied by Chassidic Jewish families, whom they regarded as “threats” to the “character” of the Town.
As a result, those same nice folks’ conduct allegedly went “beyond the mere abuse of office to extremes like fabricating passages in official documents and inventing restrictions at variance with Plaintiff’s approved plans.” Indeed, their discriminatory intent “was evident not merely in the unmistakable pattern of their actions; Defendants have spoken publicly of their prejudice.”
According to the Times Herald Record, Chester officials met twice with the new buyers in the Town Hall, to persuade them to “create a non-Chassidic community,” and promised “expedited approval” if they agreed to switch from Chassidim to a mall that would complement the Lego Land theme park that was being built in Goshen, some 4 miles away.
The complaint cites an April, 2018 Town Board meeting where audience members spent three hours attacking the developers. denounced the Greens at Chester project for nearly three hours. Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus, who lives in Chester, told the board: “We can get aggressive,” and “Push the developer to develop commercial.”
The next day, according to the Times Herald Record, the town of Chester offered the developers $20 million for their property, and when they declined, town supervisor Alexander Jamieson upped the offer to $30 million, betraying, according to the lawsuit, the town’s “great desperation to keep Chassidic Jews out of Chester.”
Back in September, Jamieson told the Times Herald-Record that Chester must buy all the undeveloped properties in its jurisdiction before Chassidic developers get to them. “The idea is to keep the Chassidic out so that they can’t control the Town Board,” Jamieson said.