In 2017, a group of real-estate developers bought a plot of land in the town of Chester, in New York’s Hudson Valley, that had been designated for a new housing development. Since then, the town’s residents and officials have fought to stop the houses from being built, stating quite bluntly that they fear it will become a ḥasidic enclave—a concern based solely on the fact that some of the developers are themselves Ḥasidim. Sharon Otterman writes:
Town officials have repeatedly placed obstacles in the developers’ path: restrictions on the size of the houses they can build, delays on issuing building permits, and a request to relocate the main road by ten feet. . . . Angry residents at [a town] meeting talked of how school taxes could rise, and public resources could be stretched in the town. . . . They spoke of fears that the development would one day resemble Kiryas Joel, a ḥasidic village about nine miles away that is overcrowded and has ranked among the poorest communities in the nation.
The developers . . . cite these statements and others in a federal lawsuit that accuses the town, Orange County, and individual local officials of discrimination. . . . The Orange County executive, Steven M. Neuhaus, a Chester resident and its former town supervisor, suggested delay tactics, including retesting the water and denying sewer permitting, at a meeting a month earlier. . . .
“If you show up to a public hearing, you can hear what the voters are saying, which is ‘keep the ḥasidic [sic] out,’” said John Petroccione, the civil engineer who designed the project 25 years ago, and is working with the developers to complete it. . . .
“[N]obody on the board, . . . nobody who works in the town, . . . nobody wants this development to go through,” Alexander Jamieson, the former town supervisor of Chester, said at a public meeting in May 2018. . . . Jamieson, who resigned as town supervisor last September after pleading guilty to collecting unemployment while working in that role, also stood by his comments. “It’s not anti-Semitic to say it’s going to be a ḥasidic development,” he said in an interview near the site. “I’m just telling the truth.”