09/22/2017: Politico reports U.S. Justice Department investigating Woodcliff Lake, N.J. over treatment of S&A client Valley Chabad
The Justice Department and the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office are investigating the small town led by Republican lieutenant governor nominee Carlos Rendo over its treatment of an Orthodox Jewish organization, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO New Jersey.
M. Friedman, "Feds launch religious discrimination probe into town led by Guadagno's running mate," Politico (Sept. 22, 2017)
06/01/2017: Editorial discusses Valley Chabad litigation
The Puritans came to these shores to avoid religious persecution. Other religious groups followed. Religious liberty was so important to our Founders, it is protected in the First Amendment. . . . We hope municipal officials in Woodcliff Lake have been watching. Last fall, Valley Chabad filed a federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations in the borough, as it has been consistently thwarted in its efforts to build a house of worship there. In the lawsuit, it alleges “The Chabad has been the victim of a targeted effort to prevent it from developing a house of worship in the borough, resulting from unjustified fear and prejudice of Haredi Orthodox Jews.”
Editorial, "Freedom to worship in New Jersey," NorthJersey.com (June 1, 2017)
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)