Orthodox Jewish groups welcome decision, while local politicians deny legislation had discriminatory intent.
By World Israel News Staff
New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed a controversial land preservation bill on Wednesday which critics argued was discriminatory and aimed at stopping the growth of a Hasidic Jewish community in Orange County.
“There have been well-documented tensions in Orange County between local elected officials and members of the Hasidic community,” Hochul said in a statement explaining her reasons for the veto.
Referencing a 2019 bill which was vetoed by then-governor Andrew Cuomo, Hochul said that this bill was nearly identical and that was found to be problematic both from a legal and logistical standpoint.
“Similar tensions in the nearby Town of Chester resulted in litigation. It would be inappropriate to sign this legislation at this juncture, while facts are still being gathered about the situation.”
While Hochul did not explicitly acknowledge the discriminatory elements of the bill, Jewish groups welcomed her decision.
“Thank you, Gov. Kathy Hochul, for vetoing S1811/A5761 that would limit development in Blooming Grove,” wrote the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn in a joint statement on Twitter.
“We wrote last month to the governor asking to veto that bill that would discriminate against Hasidic Jews. Thank you for standing up for fair housing for all.”
Critics said that the bill’s language cloaked discriminatory building restrictions intended to prevent Hasidic Jews from expanding their communities in an environmentally-concerned veneer.
“It’s a disgrace that such bills even get out of committees,” said Yossi Gestetner, co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council.
“Those bills are written with the false and bigoted assumption that growth of said communities are a problem when in fact they are an economic and tax boon for local communities as shown in multiple data reports on our website.”
Blooming Grove Supervisor Robert Jeroloman complained that the bill was simply aimed at preserving open spaces and denied that it had any discriminatory intent.
“New York sends a new message today that there is no support for these types of actions here in New York, and you will be judged and convicted without a hearing by what your neighbors and others are doing instead of what you have done,” he told the Times Herald.
“All our town was asking for is moral accounting and a proper balance in regards to our own environment and farmland.”