Developer Wants to Build Hundreds of Homes for Hasidic Jews; Catskills Town Might Dissolve Itself to Stop Him

The strangest local-government story you'll read today.


Bloomberg has published the strangest, most interesting local-government story you'll read today. (*) Here's how it opens:

L'shanah tovah from sunny Bloomingburg
Daniel Case

A plan to build 396 townhouses for ultra-orthodox Jews in a rural New York village is pitting residents and local officials against a developer who says he's a victim of an anti-Semitic plot.

Opposition to the project is so strong that Bloomingburg, the village in the Catskills, is considering dissolving its local government, which could allow the larger surrounding town to block the development. Voters will decide Sept. 30 whether to fold their municipal government into the Town of Mamakating, whose population is 30 times larger.

Shalom Lamm, the developer seeking to build townhouses and amenities meant to draw Hasidim, accused officials in a federal lawsuit of misusing building codes to keep Jews from moving to the area and violating the rights of the plaintiffs under the U.S. Constitution. Town officials say the issue is about preserving Bloomingburg's rural character, not about religion.

The article goes on to describe residents' fears that the new arrivals will "have all the power in electing the next mayor," among many other details. It reminds me a bit of those 19th-century efforts to disenfranchise Mormons on the theory that they'd otherwise vote en masse for Brigham Young's hand-picked puppets. Check out the whole thing here.

Via Tim Carney, who headlines his post "Village plans to immolate itself to prevent takeover by Hasidic Jews."

(* Unless you don't read it. Or already read it yesterday. Or have found a story that's even more fascinatingly bizarre, in which case please send it my way.)