11/09/2016: Valley Chabad files suit challenging Woodcliff Lake, N.J. zoning and denial of variances
On November 1, 2016, the Valley Chabad, represented by Storzer & Associates, filed suit against the Borough of Woodcliff Lake and its Zoning Board of Adjustment challenging their zoning scheme regulating places of worship and the denial of the Chabad's variance to use its property as a location for its small congregation.
In the lawsuit filed on Nov. 1, Rabbi Dov Drizin, executive director of Valley Chabad, argues that their civil rights were violated as a result of the defendants' "burdensome, discriminatory and unreasonable land use regulations and intentional conduct," which have prohibited the congregation from constructing their proposed house of worship in the borough. As a "prayer for relief," Valley Chabad has many requests, among them, an order directing the zoning board to revise their denial of the application and grant the congregation its many variances and waivers to construct its house of worship on the said property, as well as compensatory damages and attorney's fees.
L. Abrizio, "Valley Chabad files lawsuit against Woodcliff Lake Zoning Board," North Jersey.com, USA Today, (Nov. 9, 2016)
Working exhaustively with local officials, the Chabad’s application took 628 days and 18 public hearings — 508 days longer than the permitted period for hearing variances, the press release says.
Nonetheless, the application was rejected.
C. Levine, "Valley Chabad Sues Woodcliff Lake Alleging Abuse, Civil Rights Violations," Garfield-Lodi, Daily Voice (Nov. 11, 2016)
Valley Chabad, in its court filing, claims the organization was consistently discriminated against in its pursuit of a property of sufficient size for the construction of a house of worship and related parking since 2006. That year, Valley Chabad sought to buy the “Hathaway property” at 75 Werimus Road and the lawsuit claims the borough later sought to acquire the property as open space for recreational purposes.
It’s a pattern Valley Chabad claims was repeated again in 2013 after it sought to buy the Galaxy Gardens property, only for the governing body to begin efforts to acquire the property for open space in a controversial multi-year effort that was bolstered earlier this year when the borough received a $500,000 Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund grant to use toward the purchase.
T. Clancy, "Valley Chabad's federal lawsuit seeks to overturn Woodcliff Lake board's denial," Pascack Press (Nov. 11, 2016)
An orthodox Jewish organization has filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey town alleging its rejection of the group’s efforts to construct a house of worship was driven by a “consistent campaign of bias,” in violation of religious land use and discrimination laws.
J. O'Sullivan, "Bias Thwarted NJ Temple Plans, Lawsuit Says," Law360 (Nov. 2, 2016)