The New York State Attorney General’s Office is asking the Village of Monroe, in Orange County, to hold off on adopting a law it says restricts the rights of Orthodox Jewish residents.
Proposed Local Law 5, also called the Village of Monroe Place of Worship and Schools Local Law, would amend zoning law to create regulations on residential gathering, places of worship and schools. It would also require special use permits. The law is on the agenda to be adopted by the Village Board of Trustees Thursday night.
In a letter to Village of Monroe Mayor Neil Dwyer, the attorney general’s office said it’s concerned the law violates state and federal law and could violate the rights of Orthodox Jews to practice their religion. The AG’s office is asking the village hold off on passing the proposal until it can further review the law. The letter also asks for written justification for the proposed law be sent to the AG’s office by Sept. 29.
In the justification for the proposed law, the Board of Trustees says the village “has seen an increased demand for regular large gatherings of people in residential areas, most commonly for worship but possibly for other purposes protected by the First Amendment.” It goes on to raise public safety concerns about residential buildings being used for regular public assembly.
Village Mayor Neil Dwyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A special Board of Trustee Meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Village of Monroe is within the Town of Monroe, which has historically seen political and zoning disputes related to Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities. Most recently, part of the town split to create the new town of Palm Tree where the Satmar Hasidic community is.