Airmont, New York

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Airmont is a village in the town of Ramapo, Rockland County, New York, United States located north of the state of New Jersey; east of Suffern; south of Montebello and west of Chestnut Ridge. The population was 7,799 at the 2000 census.

The village of Airmont, incorporated in 1991, is a consolidation of the hamlets of Tallman, Airmont and South Monsey. Joseph Berger of The New York Times said in a 1997 article that Airmont was one of several town of Ramapo villages formed by non-Jewish people and more secular Jewish people "to preserve the sparse Better Homes and Garden [sic] ambiance that attracted them to Rockland County."[1] In 2005 Peter Applebome of The New York Times said that Airmont was "slapped around enough by the courts to be something other than a virginal player in any discrimination case" since it ran into legal resistance to its anti-Hasidic development laws.[2]

Contents

History

In April 1991 the town of Ramapo allowed the creation of the village of Airmont. Airmont had 9,500 people, including around 250 Orthodox Jews and many non-Orthodox Jews. The founders of the town said that they intended for "strong zoning" to preserve the character of the community. Ronald Sullivan of The New York Times said that many Airmont residents said that they supported the idea of banning synagogues as traffic would increase. William P. Barr, the United States Attorney General, and Otto G. Obermaier, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, filed a suit against Airmont and the village of Ramapo; Barr and Obermaier said that Airmont created a zoning plan intended to exclude Orthodox Jews from living in the village and "that other individuals acting at the behest of the defendants have engaged in a pattern of harassment against Orthodox Jews in the village."[3] The officials cited the Fair Housing Act as the relevant law.[4] The plaintiffs said that, because many Orthodox do not travel by car on Saturdays, preventing the creation of a synagogue would exclude Orthodox from the community. The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith supported the suit. The Spring Valley Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had opposed the creation of Airmont.[3] As a result of the suit Airmont revised its zoning code to allow religious sites.[4] Airmont's zoning restricted synagogues to 2-acre (8,100 m2) lots, which were too costly for most Orthodox congregations. A federal judge ruled that the code was discriminatory and ordered Airmont to revise the code; the legal case continued by 1997. In addition, the concept of home synagogues, holding houses of worship within living rooms or basements of houses, caused controversy within Airmont.[5]

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