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Mahwah, NJ - Mayor Slams Town Council, Calls For Acceptance As Mahwah Settles State Discrimination Lawsuit

Published on: September 17, 2018 05:51 PM
Last updated on: September 17, 2018 06:08 PM
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In this Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, photo, polyvinyl chloride piping is seen on an utility pole as a vehicle drives by on Airmount Road in Mahwah, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)In this Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, photo, polyvinyl chloride piping is seen on an utility pole as a vehicle drives by on Airmount Road in Mahwah, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Mahwah, NJ - The battle between the Township of Mahwah and New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General has come to a close, with the town agreeing to a settlement that would repeal a pair of ordinances preventing lechis from being posted on utility poles as part of an eruv and banning out of state residents from town parks.

As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2z9jZVZ), Mahwah was sued by the state for discrimination in October 2017 because of the two ordinances which appeared to specifically target Orthodox Jews.

The settlement was announced on Monday and holds Mahwah potentially liable for a $350,000 payment to the state.  That payment would be waived within four years if the township complies with all terms and conditions of the agreement and engages in no further unlawful behavior.

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Those conditions would include giving the state 30 days advance notice of any votes on ordinances that would modify local signage laws or restrict access to public parks.  The township will also be required to investigate any non-weather or accidental damage to lechis as “potential criminal acts of vandalism” and to file quarterly reports with the state documenting all filed complaints and any associated responses.

The settlement came one day after Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet was honored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center at Yankee Stadium as a Hero for Tolerance for taking a stance against anti-Semitism and promoting tolerance in the township.  Laforet said that he was humbled by the public recognition, having been subjected to continuous criticism for taking a public stance against the ordinances and blasted the township council for its actions.

“The council has penned an agreement with the attorney general for the very negative atmosphere that it created in the Township of Mahwah,” Laforet told VIN News.  “They were told not to proceed with the ordinances and by refusing to listen they created an atmosphere of shame and bigotry in the community.”

Laforet noted that the township will have to make the $350,000 payment to the state, although the funds could be returned in four years.

“That money is being held hostage because of the behavior of this council, with taxpayers forced to pay $450,000 in legal fees,” said Laforet.  “The council has harmed the taxpayers of Mahwah 100 percent and are finally being held accountable.”

Laforet said that he hopes that the settlement heralds a new beginning for Mahwah.

“The only step forward is to begin the healing process,” said Laforet. “We can be good neighbors with everyone and everyone is welcome in Mahwah.”



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