Pomona, NY - Tartikov Town Dispute Back in Court
Pomona, NY - The dispute over a proposed rabbinical college returns to federal court Feb. 10.
U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas will hear arguments in regards to the village’s request to dismiss a lawsuit by Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov .
Both sides submitted their written arguments a year ago. Nothing has since transpired.
John Stepanovich, a Virginia Beach, Va., attorney representing the congregation, said the Feb. 10 session will give the judge an opportunity to question the litigants.
“We expect a ruling to be made after the oral arguments,” Stepanovich said last week of the hearing scheduled in White Plains.
In its lawsuit, the congregation has accused the village of prejudice against Hasidic Jews, and that its zoning discriminated against the Brooklyn-based congregation.
From the village’s perspective, the congregation had not sought any land-use permits, so there were no adverse municipal decisions to contest.
The village of about 3,000 people was upset two years ago by news that its population could be dwarfed by 1,000 or more students and their families living in six-story apartment buildings.
Ultimately, some residents said, the religious community could gain control of the village in the voting booth.
Paul Savad, a Nanuet attorney representing the congregation, said the intent was to build only enough for 250 students on what amounts to 130 acres off routes 202 and 306.
“It’s not like all of a sudden 1,000 students are going to appear in the village of Pomona,” Savad said.
He said the higher figures were initially used only for planning purposes showing the maximum build-out of the property.
“But that was just for the environmental review,” Savad said. “All we’re asking for is that the village must consider our request for 250 students.”
What could keep the village from considering the application is an ordinance that prohibits non-accredited educational facilities from building dormitories.
Tartikov was unaccredited a year ago when the legal arguments were first presented to the federal court, and it remains unaccredited today.
Savad said the possibility of accreditation was “thoroughly investigated” with both state and religious agencies, but Tartikov didn’t qualify because it had no certifiable academic program.
Tartikov’s purpose, as presented by its organizers, was to promote the study of Biblical laws to prepare students to preside over rabbinical courts.
Village attorney Doris Ullman said she was unaware what the numbers of students would be because Tartikov never delivered a site plan.
“I don’t know what they’re looking for,” Ullman said, “other than in my discussions with them they were looking for a study hall with high-rise housing.”
As for the the accreditation issue, Ullman said Tartikov “has not applied to the village for relief from that requirement.”
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