Long-time Airmont residents have had enough. After watching the award-winning school district next door crumble with services cut and accusations of rampant theft and disenfranchisement of public school students and taxpayers and having two Village board meetings disrupted by a deluge of people showing up allegedly opposed to the building moratorium, the residents of Airmont and their supporters took a page from the Frum community’s playbook and fought back.
The Airmont planning board agenda included an informal discussion between leaders of the Central United Talmudical Academy and their attorney. Local residents showed up in much larger numbers than usual and having exceeded the room’s capacity of 85, effectively shut down the entire meeting as no applicants were heard.
The room was filled to capacity with 85 people packed in with more than 53 in the hallway as more people arrived.
Building Inspector Doug Perry asked attendees if they would be willing to leave the room while the first item on the agenda was heard. Nobody moved. A representative of the one of the groups on the agenda was quietly overheard stating that their group would pay to rent a larger space, possibly at the Crowne Plaza.
After taking questions and having a Ramapo Police officer explain the situation, the crowd heard from the Village of Airmont Deputy Attorney Dan Kraushaar who handles all of the planning and zoning. Kraushaar told those assembled that the first item was the result of a court order and that it needed to be heard and essentially it was a done deal. Residents made it very clear that they wanted to know what is going on in their village and that they were going to stay.
New York State law clearly states that attendees must be able to hear and see the proceedings. Those in the hallways clearly could not be accommodated so the meeting was called to order and a motion was made to close the public meeting until a later date so that the overflow crowd could be accommodated.
If the Village of Airmont decides to move the meeting to a larger space, the applicants and not the Village taxpayers will be responsible for paying the costs associated with renting a larger space.
“The Satmar community has denied the democratic process not once but twice” stated one attendee who did not want to be identified, “I’m a proud Jew and yet I’ll still be labeled an anti-Semite but they need to know that two can play at that game and we’re learning how to play the game based upon their long-documented history. I say lets move to a large space and we’ll put the word out to continuously delay their hearing until they learn to be good neighbors and play by the same rules.”
“We’ve got to organize and mobilize” exclaimed another, “Enough of the process being circumvented and special favors being granted to special interests.”
The date, time and location of the next Village of Airmont Planning meeting has not been announced however judging from the mood of the crowd and comments made after the meeting was postponed, this is the first of what many expect to be a long, drawn out skirmish.