Students from Rambam Mesivta-Maimonides High School protest outside the home of Jakiw Palij in the Queens borough of New York City, US, April 24, 2017.
(photo credit: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The supervisor of Chester in southeastern New York said the town is buying up available property to prevent future development by the hassidic community.
Chester Supervisor Alex Jamieson told the local newspaper the Times Herald-Record on Thursday that town residents fear that the hassidic community of Kiryas Joel will expand into the town.
His comments came a day after the town board approved the purchase of the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center, an 8.8-acre property, for $1 million. He told the newspaper that the purchase was one of several to be finalized in the coming weeks and months for the purpose of slowing a hassidic expansion.
“People realize what the possibilities are,” Jamieson told the Herald-Record. “The fear of KJ expanding into Chester is scaring people half to death.
It’s not just the Greens at Chester. They are buying property all around it.”
Greens at Chester, a 431-home development being built on a 110-acre site in the town, is slated be a predominantly hassidic community and could eventually be home to 3,000 people, according to the Herald-Record. Chester is located near the border with New Jersey.
The town also is finalizing a contract to buy two parcels of land outside Sugar Loaf totaling 160 acres, according to the report.
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Earlier this year, Jamieson also said at a town board meeting that it will look into switching to a ward system for electing town board members in an effort to lessen the impact of an influx of hassidic residents. The ward system idea will be on the town’s November ballot.
“The idea is to keep the hassidic out so that they can’t control the town board,” Jamieson said, according to the newspaper.
On Friday, News 12 Westchester cited Jamieson as saying that he told the Herald-Record reporter that the land purchase was to preserve the rural character of Chester. He said the reporter asked him if it was to keep the hassidics out.
Jamieson said he then told the reporter, “Well, if we purchase the property, that’s going to keep them out.”
“I didn’t say we were buying it to keep them out,” Jamieson told News 12. “We have visions for what we want to do with these properties. We’re not just buying properties to shoot from the hip.”
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