June 25, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 25, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Jackson Settles With Jewish High School, Ending Nine-Year Legal Battle

Ending a protracted nine-year legal battle, the Jackson Township council approved a settlement that paves the way for a girls high school to be built near its border with Lakewood and reimbursement of the school’s $1.35 million legal costs.

The council approved the settlement without comment at its Dec. 13 meeting as part of the resolution in the case of Oros Bais Yaakov vs. Jackson Zoning Board of Adjustment. The school had originally filed an application in 2013 with the zoning board for preliminary and final major site land and use valance approval, but after a series of hearings the application was rejected 10 months later in 2014. Later that year the school filed a complaint in Ocean County Superior Court, which was amended in 2017.

The suit sought injunctive relief and monetary damages under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution and New Jersey state law arising from the zoning board’s denial of the application and land use regulation of the property.

The ensuing years found the township and the school locked in a series of depositions, motions and court hearings, according to the approved resolution. As part of the settlement, the school agreed not to seek additional monetary damages.

A key stipulation included in the agreement is Jackson’s concurrence that it doesn’t have the authority to require any school be accredited before approving its land use and will not seek such accreditation in the future unless the state adopts such a requirement. The township also agreed to change the zoning of the land on which the school is to be built from rural residential to neighborhood commercial and to cooperate and expedite approvals and inspections to speed construction of the high school.

The settlement was reached, according to the document, because of both parties’ “desire to resolve the action without further litigation, controversy and inconvenience related to the subject matter of the action and desire to settle, fully and finally, any and all claims among them…”

Jackson has had an ongoing history of legal issues with the state and federal governments over its enactment of zoning ordinances that deliberately discriminated against Orthodox Jews.

In June, the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) settled its lawsuit against the township that charged Jackson with “extreme animus” toward Orthodox Jews through the enactment of zoning laws that restricted the building of religious schools and dormitories and other measures targeting them.

That came on the heels of the township planning board’s approval of a group of yeshivot, a direct result of a temporary preliminary injunction handed down in 2021 blocking ”discriminatory and unconstitutional ordinances” enacted to specifically ban yeshivas and dormitories and disallow eruvim.

The suit against the township and many of its officials that led to the injunction was filed five years earlier by Agudath Israel of America. U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp issued the injunction, noting the record indicated the ordinances were motivated by antisemitism.

Th federal suit was filed in 2020 by the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. It charged local leaders were “intentionally” attempting to dissuade the Orthodox community from moving to the municipality through zoning restrictions in violation of RLUIPA, which protects religious institutions from unduly burdensome discriminatory land use regulations, and the Fair Housing Act.

By Debra J Rubin

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles