Town accused of bias against Orthodox Jews settles lawsuit

MAHWAH, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey town has agreed to repeal an ordinance that state officials said discriminated against Orthodox Jews.

The moves, announced Monday, resolve a lawsuit the state attorney general’s office filed against Mahwah last October.

The town had already repealed an ordinance that barred out-of-state residents from using its parks. Officials agreed that repeal will remain in effect.

The town also won’t adopt another ordinance that would have banned the building of religious boundaries made up of white plastic piping through town. It also will inform the attorney general’s office in writing about any new ordinance proposals affecting the use of parks, or signage on utility poles, for the next four years.

Mahwah also will issue a joint public statement affirming that its park and recreational facilities laws, as well as solicitation laws, will be enforced in “an even-handed and non-discriminatory manner.”

The state also agreed to suspend a proposed $350,000 fine as long as the town doesn’t violate the agreement.

New Jersey had contended that Mahwah violated the state’s Green Acres Act and noted that land acquired under the law couldn’t be restricted on the basis of religion or residency.

Yehudah Buchweitz, attorney for the Bergen Rockland Eruv Association, which sued the town in August, told The Record , “We commend the New Jersey attorney general for standing up for religious freedom,” and congratulated his office on the settlement.

Mahwah’s council president has repeatedly said anti-Semitism played no role in the governing body’s decisions.

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