Tricky Government Contracts and the Kushner Empire – Ethicists Welcome News…


Kushner Companies scraps planned Orthodox Jewish community in Jersey City

Had it been granted the $150M bid, the company could have built 8,100 homes at formerly contaminated Bayfront site

UPDATED, May 10, 12:30 p.m.: Kushner Companies was the leading bidder on an industrial site called Bayfront in Jersey City that would become home to a planned Jewish community geared toward members of Orthodox sects who are being priced out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

But when Bloomberg reporters asked company spokesperson James Yolles about the bid on Tuesday, Yolles said that the company already dropped any intentions it had to buy the site from Honeywell and Jersey City for $150 million. An unnamed Kushner employee also told the news site that these plans were dropped late last year, but the office of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said it was unaware of this and has yet to receive any word of Kushner’s withdrawal from consideration.

It’s unclear if the Kushners decided to abandon the project for ethics reasons, but Honeywell, a Fortune 100 list conglomerate, has billions in government contracts that could prove tricky in any dealmaking tied to the Kushners. The development would likely also require federal subsidies to improve the infrastructure within and surrounding the site. “It’s a good sign that they are pulling out,” Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, told Bloomberg. “Though the question is whether or not it’s just because of the publicity or because they actually see there is a potential conflict of interest in these situations.”

In a statement to The Real Deal, Yolles said “a decision was made late last year not to pursue the project because the company was not persuaded by the economics of the deal.”

Last weekend, the company made front page news when White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s sister Nicole promoted a Jersey City project at One Journal Square to Chinese investors. The sales pitch made mention of Kushner Companies’ ties to the White House and Nicole told the audience the project was “important” to her entire family. It was later reported that the project in question is going through a rough spot, losing an anchor tenant in WeWork and at risk of losing a key 30-year tax abatement.  [Bloomberg]  — Will Parker


To read the article in TheRealDeal click here.


See Also:

National Real Estate Investor:

Coincidence? Or, are they at it Again… Mr. Stark? – NO CofO!!


The Gothamist:

New Brooklyn Luxury Building Welcomes Tenants Despite Lacking Certificate Of Occupancy

Joseph Brunner, described by The Real Deal along with his partner Abe Mandel as one of the “heavyweights” of Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish developers, with more than 100 buildings to his name (well, LLCs), bought the former Colonial Laundry building for $6.175 million in 2012.

The process of demolishing the factory and building the sleek residential building in its place was fraught with problems. Neighbors have complained to the city about construction 22 times since January 2015, and a contractor has paid out $12,400 for 12 serious building violations in that time. Infractions included working in hours outside of those allowed by permits, failing to enclose the construction site, failing to safeguard personnel, and failing to notify the DOB that excavation was beginning.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said, “They’ve been such assholes every step of the way. It’s the shoddiest job I’ve ever seen.”

She complained that crews frequently worked late into the night and on weekends, and left debris on the sidewalk. During the final phase of construction, when workers were lining the facade with Styrofoam, her garden filled with balls of the stuff, “And I was picking it out of my five-month-old daughter’s hair.”

The neighbor added that a man from management once confronted her and, intimating that he knew she was calling 311, said, “Why do you care? Your street is already so dirty.” Later, she says he added, “I can deal with a lot of fines.”

The tenants we spoke to all shared stories that, though they diverged in some respects, were consistent on several key points. Specifically, they said that the leasing agents, operating out of an office marked “Bedford Lofts” at 105 Leonard Street in South Williamsburg, refused to give them copies of their leases (“Oh shit, I think we may not have gotten a copy,” one said when told about the others’ stories. His roommates confirmed it.); that management promised the building would be finished by September 1st; and when it wasn’t, that management offered them amounts ranging from $100 to $140 a night to stay in hotels until the inspectors sign off. No one we spoke to has been reimbursed yet.

Several tenants are also awaiting the construction of new walls in their apartments, to partition off an extra bedroom (a text message exchange between an agent and a tenant seems to confirm this arrangement). They say they have been told that the work will be done after inspectors come through and sign off on the building. Such new construction would, of course, only be legal with the applicable permits.

A man named George who answered at a number listed for a brokerage representing the building called Yuri Management told me there is an available “one bedroom-two bedroom flex. It comes as a one-bedroom, but could be flexed as a two-bedroom, meaning they could come in and cut out some of the cabin space.”

Asked why people are saying that there is no certificate of occupancy, George said, “What happened was, during the inspection, they didn’t get one of the signatures.” He said the move-in date has been delayed to September 15th. But three tenants told me that Mittelman, the property manager, informed them this week that the building has passed inspections and is okay to move into.

The tenants whose situations we reviewed—a mix of financiers, social services professionals, and students at nearby Pratt Institute—are stressed. One trio of students is staying with friends and hoping to pocket the money. They are angry about the alleged bait-and-switch, but question how much more they can do to hold Brunner accountable. “We’re all so busy with school already, and it’s so hard just getting ahold of management,” one said. “And besides, we don’t have our lease. Nothing is in writing.”

My guide around the building said the experience for him has been “Actually kind of fun,” given that he works in Downtown Brooklyn and has been sampling the neighborhood’s hotel offerings with his girlfriend. For his roommates, who have more far-flung professional jobs, “It’s definitely more disruptive.”

Another tenant is planning to withhold rent—all incoming tenants we spoke to got September “free”—and consulting lawyers.

The moving in of tenants to an un-permitted luxury development is eerily similar to the case of 120 South Fourth Street, which remains evacuated nearly a year after building inspectors forced residents out when inspectors conducting an audit—the department had previously signed off on the building—discovered 3,000 square feet of structural framing and concrete floor had been built without permits. That building is owned by Abraham Bernat, the brother-in-law of slain Williamsburg landlord Menachem Stark, and a principal of the firm The Bedford Lofts LLC.

It’s not clear that there is a connection, but when the tenant who is considering lawyering up first heard that 10 Lexington lacked a C of O and started to do some research, he encountered a story about Bernat’s foibles and realized his leasing agent was working for a company by a similar name. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh, no, not this guy,'” he said.

The tenant recalled having asked repeatedly for a copy of the lease, but being told by the agents that the owner needed to add a few provisions to the generic lease and would mail him a copy.

“In retrospect, I was probably a little too trusting,” he said. A text exchange seems to verify that he requested a copy of the lease and was told to wait by a leasing agent.

As for the predicament he’s now in, the tenant said, “It’s ridiculous. All of these people have nowhere to stay.”

The Buildings Department spokesman said it audited Brunner’s permits during construction and forced the builders to change certain things to comply with the building code. Now, the spokesman said, the agency is planning to send inspectors once more.

Joel Mittelman, the building manager, did not respond to an email seeking comment or a message left at his Google Voice number. Another number listed for him on a permit application rang to a voicemail that is not set up. The number of a lawyer for Joshua Brunner listed on the purchasing records for 10 Lexington has been disconnected. Abraham Bernat did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.

Update 4:45 p.m.:

An unnamed representative of the building—it’s not clear if the person works for Bruman Realty, Bedford Lofts, or some other company—sent the following statement from a email address:

As the leasing office we started signing leases in July with the understanding that our inspections for the certificate of occupancy would be complete in Mid-August. As such, the lease start dates were listed for September. The building did not receive the certificate of occupancy sign off yet as expected even though the building does have all other signoffs needed.

Landlord intends to fully comply with the term of all the leases. No tenant has received permission to occupy space in the building, However, landlord did allow as an accommodation for certain tenants that wanted to store their furniture and personal effects into the building for storage purposes only during the pendency of any ministerial delay.
Further more the Landlord has offered to pay the cost of hotels to every tenant that was not able to move in to his apartment to reduce any inconvenience on the new tenants side.

In terms of accessory spaces, it is correct that the roof deck is not yet built. It will be constructed in the coming months. With regard to the courtyard, since most tenants did not rent parking space it is the intention of the owners to make an application to BSA for a waiver of the parking requirements to include a courtyard area in the existing structure, since there is already enough parking spaces in the basement.


Blockbusting and Tom’s River, Hold on to Your Homes


from an article in Micromedia Publications Inc.

LostMessiah, March 19, 2016

With No-Knock List Growing, Real Estate Solicitors Now Trying Texts

By Jennifer Peacock
As towns take a look at their no-knock registries, residents are reporting unwanted sales pitches are now coming in via text message.

No-knock registries prevent solicitors from going to your home and giving you a sales pitch there. In several towns, that also means real estate soliciting.

The issue stems from the neighborhoods in Jackson, Howell and Toms River that border Lakewood, seeing realtors come out in droves as part the population boom Lakewood is experiencing.

The online chatter of late has revolved around residents in both Jackson and Howell receiving text messages from real estate agents. In Howell, residents hear from “Joe Huffman,” identified as a real estate buyer in Howell, NJ, as reported by Howell NJ Strong on March 12. The text asks if the receiver is interested in selling their property, and is coming from 732-810-0149 and 732-751-4581.

Both numbers go to Huffman Properties, where the caller is asked to leave a name, phone number, and property they are calling about. An online search yielded no results for that company name, but did find one Joe Huffman in Howell. No phone number was available with that listing.

Both Jackson and Howell require that door-to-door solicitors apply for permits before canvassing. Both townships also have no-knock registries, which allow residents to opt out of receiving such solicitors. However, it’s beyond the jurisdiction of municipal governments to restrict phone calls or mail.

Using the no-knock registries is the main way a resident can prevent what they may feel are bothersome solicitors. The process often begins at town hall, with a form to fill out to get on the no-knock list.

Some residents have decided to take the paperwork to neighbors in Flair and Brookwood 1 and 2 in Jackson this past Saturday. The Facebook page Jackson NJ Strong announced that members of the group would in those neighborhoods with applications, which they in turn will deliver to town hall and return to residents’ homes with the no-knock decal.

Jackson NJ Strong responded to The Times and said their efforts were met with positive feedback.

And while applications for the Jackson registry are available for download online, residents must print the application, fill it out and either mail it or deliver it to town hall. Jackson NJ Strong wants to see the township provide an application that can be filled out online.

In Jackson, Council President Rob Nixon spoke at the March 8 council meeting on the topic, prefacing his comments with the fire in Lakewood that damaged what appears to have been an illegal dormitory.

“The improper tactics of Realtors, real estate speculators, panic peddlers and blockbusters hoping to prey on Jackson is an issue that concerns us all. Again I will say, if you see something, say something,” Nixon said. “There are resources available to address these concerns at the disposal of our residents today.”

All residents should sign up for the no-knock registry, he said.

“Don’t believe those who attempt to flippantly dismiss this tool. Our law is strong, it’s effective, and its penalties hit harder than those laws passed in towns nearby,” Nixon said.

He also told residents that they must report possible transgressions to the appropriate local, county, state and federal authorities.

“We are a wonderful and welcoming community, but we are bound to live by the same rules and the same laws. Respect for the law equals respect for each other,” Nixon said.


Toms River, NJ and North Dover and “‘Highly Annoying, Suspicious and Creepy Tactics”



from an article on BloomburgBusiness, March 14, 2016

Orthodox Jews Set Sights on N.J. Town and Angry Residents Resist

Every home is big on glass in a Toms River, New Jersey, neighborhood called North Dover. Windows let in the sun, or show off chandeliers in multistory entrance halls.

These days, though, most homeowners draw the blinds, retreating from brushes with a fast-growing Orthodox Jewish community that’s trying to turn a swath of suburban luxury 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Atlantic beaches into an insular enclave. The rub, a township inquiry found, is “highly annoying, suspicious and creepy” tactics used by some real-estate agents.

They show up on doorsteps to tell owners that if they don’t sell, they’ll be the only non-Orthodox around. Strangers, sometimes several to a car, shoot photos and videos. When they started pulling over to ask children which house was theirs, parents put an end to street-hockey games.

“It’s like an invasion,” said Thomas Kelaher, Toms River’s three-term mayor, who’s fielded complaints from the North Dover section since mid-2015. “It’s the old throwback to the 1960s, when blockbusting happened in Philadelphia and Chicago with the African-American community — ‘I want to buy your house. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.’ It scares the hell out of people.”

Scholarly Community

The upset has its roots in adjacent Lakewood, home to yeshivas including Beth Medrash Govoha, among the world’s biggest centers for Talmudic study. Scholars typically marry young and start large families that maintain strict gender roles and limit interaction with secular society.

Rabbi Avi Schnall, state director of Agudath Israel of America, which represents Orthodox Jews on political, social and religious issues, said a few sales agents “are overly aggressive and making a bad name for the others.” He declined to say whether anti-Semitism is at work, but said the “extent of the anger” in Lakewood’s neighboring towns is deep, fueling opposition to a learning center, a boarding school, dormitories and other proposals.


In 2014, Toms River accused Rabbi Moshe Gourarie of running a house of worship and community center in a residential area, an issue that in December drew more than 1,200 residents to a zoning hearing to raise concerns about traffic and property values.

“The residents are in an uproar not about the chabad so much, but about the real-estate canvassing,” said Gourarie’s attorney, Christopher Costa. Gourarie and his nonprofit outreach group have nothing to do with people looking for homes, and continue to seek permission to operate, he said.

“He’s been a little shocked to have 1,250 people object to what he’s been doing for 12 years,” Costa said. “Nothing has changed except for he’s suddenly being prosecuted.”

Separate World

The friction reflects increasing insularity among the most religious Jews worldwide. In Israel, the Haredi inhabit a largely separate social world, according to a Pew Research Center survey this month. They share few connections even with their fellow Jews and there is scant intermarriage; 89 percent of the Haredim surveyed said all or most of their close friends belonged to their own community.

Though just 10 percent of America’s 5.3 million Jewish adults identify themselves as Orthodox, they have much larger families than others of their religion, and “their share of the Jewish population will grow,” according to a 2015 Pew survey. Their conservatism could “shift the profile of American Jews in several areas, including religious beliefs and practices, social and political views and demographic characteristics.”

Lakewood, once a rural destination for Rockefellers and other industry titans, is now a land of synagogues, religious schools, kosher groceries and residential neighborhoods in the grip of minivan gridlock. It’s also a place testing the limits of zoning enforcement for 95,000 people, at least half Orthodox, by Schnall’s estimate.

This month, after fire destroyed a single-family home, the Ocean County sheriff said that it was being used as an unauthorized dorm for as many as two dozen yeshiva students. Downtown, inspectors boarded up a commercial building four times, citing non-permitted use as a catering hall and Orthodox study center, only to see the plywood removed and the space reopened. The fifth board-up succeeded, backed by a planning-board ruling, said Steven Secare, the township attorney.

“The trend is going to continue into surrounding areas,” said David Holtz, 43, a Lakewood real-estate agent whose Orthodox clientele is drawn to low crime and sizable newer homes. Toms River residents who don’t want them, he said, are subscribing to “fear of the unknown,” and both Orthodox and secular communities need to abide one another.

Strong Campaign

For the rest of the article please click, here.



Blockbusting, LAUNCHING an American Shtetl…

LostMessiah, March 11, 2016
Blockbusting has been an issue of concern in towns and counties up the Eastern seaboard, more recently focused on throughout the Tri-State region. It has been going on for years. Despite community and political efforts by towns, counties, legislators and Senators to curb its use, efforts seem to get lost in the abyss of corrupt politics.  Blockbusting is a process whereby real-estate agents badger sellers into selling their homes either through  intimidation or through lies and deceit, convincing sellers that failure to sell will result in a diminution of home values.

It has been a topic of discussion recently as towns and counties within the tri-state region fight the influx of Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox residents, who characteristically send their children to private Yeshivas, thereby taking money from public schools; and it would appear engage in shady zoning practices.

In an interesting article entitled, “How to build an American shtetl — See: Bloomingburg, N.Y.”  by Uriel Helman, dated May 22, 2015 published in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and on their website, Helman outlines the Hasidic playbook:

“This is how you launch a Hasidic shtetl in 21st-century America.

  1. Step 1. Find a place within reasonable distance of Brooklyn where the land is cheap and underdeveloped.
  2. Step 2. Buy as much property as you can in your target area – if possible, without tipping off locals that you plan to turn it into a Hasidic enclave.
  3. Step 3. Ensure the zoning is suited to Hasidic living: densely clustered homes big enough for large families and within walking distance of the community’s vital infrastructure.
  4. Step 4. Build the infrastructure: Houses, a synagogue and beit midrash study hall, kosher establishments, a mikvah ritual bath. Lay the groundwork for a school. Launch a shuttle service so Hasidim who don’t drive or don’t own cars can get from the new shtetl to shopping outlets and other Hasidic communities in the region.
  5. Step 5. Market to the Hasidic community and turn on the lights.”

According the Helman, “That, essentially, is the playbook developer Shalom Lamm is following for what is shaping up to be America’s newest Hasidic shtetl — the town of Bloomingburg in upstate New York.”

Helman continues:

“Lamm didn’t stop there. He bought a group of farms on 200 acres of unincorporated land about half a mile from the stoplight and in 2006 got the village to annex it and rezone it for residential development in exchange for building a new $5 million sewage treatment plant for the area. He bought the airport in the nearby village of Wurtsboro. He bought 635 acres five miles away. He also bought a house for himself in Bloomingburg and moved in (Lamm also lives in West Hempstead, on Long Island).

Soon, changes started happening in the village.”

The article continues:

If Lamm’s vision comes to fruition, there soon will be hundreds more Hasidic families in Bloomingburg – maybe thousands.

At Chestnut Ridge, the newly built 2,800-square-foot attached townhomes look like they’re straight out of a brochure for the American dream, with identical facades, fresh white garages and bright green lawns. Inside, the décor is bright, modern and spacious, with 9-foot ceilings, an upstairs laundry room, and kitchens with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

The houses also have all the accoutrements Hasidim, with their large families and Orthodox practices, might desire. The kitchens feature two stoves, sinks, ovens and microwaves – one each for dairy and meat. There’s an outdoor sukkah deck just off the dining room. Special sinks are located outside the bathrooms for ritual hand-washing, and a small room near the front is designed for a miniature library or study.

The five bedrooms upstairs have sleeping space for up to a dozen. The master bedroom easily fits two full-sized beds – Hasidic couples do not share beds during women’s menstrual periods and for a week afterward – and the walk-in closet in the master bedroom is big enough for a crib, which Lamm doesn’t doubt Hasidic parents will notice when their babies are born.

The homes are priced between $299,000 and $334,000. Once the remaining 350 or so houses are built, there will also be four playgrounds for the kids.

To read the article in the entirety click, here.

This process is playing out in communities up and down the 87 Corridor and we recommend you continue reading.
“Blockbusting” – Rockland County, Monroe Woodbury, Jackson Township, Lakewood …,  LostMessiah, March 11, 2016
“Cease and Desist” as a Means of Protecting Homeowners Against Blockbusting, LostMessiah, March 11, 2016
In Rockland County, non-Orthodox try to create alternative to Hasidic dominance,, February 19, 2015


Are Our Neighbors to the North and South Being Subjected to Blockbusting

BLOCKBUSTING is a historic means of overtaking community. We have written on this topic before. The tactic, while not legal, is justified in all manner and method by those engaged in the practice, it’s business. We favor legislation to prevent the practice, lawn-signs within communities, and communities experiencing this practice joining together to stop it from happening, though we recognize when the government officials legislating these issues are corrupt, the process of overcoming this illegal practice is difficult….. though not impossible. Be diligent. Vote.

by LostMessiah, March 11, 2016

Getty Images Lakewood1-0

Getty Images, Caption: “Lakewood real estate agents are pressuring homeowners in neighboring townships, sometimes with intimidating language, planting seeds of despair.


In an article from Bob Quinn in the “” we read:

KIRYAS JOEL – The Village Administrator of Kiryas Joel said in an email distributed to county officials on Monday that the “mass overflow of KJ residents” to developments in Monroe, Blooming Grove and Woodbury “will change the face of the Monroe-Woodbury School District forever.”

“You can still prevent this mass overflow if you stop fighting all the annexations now, but time is running out,” Gedalye Szegedin said in one of several emails that were copied to The Photo News. “The overflow move-out momentum in KJ is going forward in full speed to a degree I have never seen before.”

Szegedin identified the following developments as places where residents of Kiryas Joel were seeking homes: Smith Farm, Shea Meadows, the Rye Hill Corridor, Bald Hill Estates, Country Hollow, Woodbury Junction, Cliff Road, Serpi Road, Milval Lane and Worley Heights.

“The natural growth of the Hasidic residents of Kiryas Joel is in the range of 250-300 new marriages per year, requiring 250-300 new apartment units per year,” Szegedin said in a second email, noting that he is responsible for issuing marriage licences in Kiryas Joel. “The choice is crystal clear and it’s yours. “The natural growth will occur anyway, either in the annexation areas in KJ and in the Kiryas Joel School District or all over the towns of Monroe, South Blooming Grove and Woodbury and in M-WSD,” he added. “I am not threatening anyone. I am just begging you to open your minds and see the reality. If you keep on fighting all annexations in court, thereby choking the KJ residents from all its housing possibilities locally, (unbridled growth) is what you will get as a result. It’s all in your hands.”

In an email exchange with The Photo News, Szegedin said his emails were not statements. “We didn’t issue any statement,” he wrote. “I sent an email to the county leaders, its a similar email I am sending them on a regular basis.”

The email was initially sent to County Executive Steve Neuhaus, Legislative Chairman Stephen Brescia, County Legislators Melissa Bonacic, Michael Amo and Katie Bonelli, County Attorney Langdon Chapman, County Planning Commissioner David Church and Monroe Town Supervisor Harley Doles.

Asked for comment, a spokesman for Neuhaus said: “Annexations are governed by state law. The annexation approved by both the Town of Monroe and Village of Kiryas Joel failed to provide the fullest possible environmental analysis. Kiryas Joel and Monroe could have and should have come to a different conclusion on this matter. We also continue to urge state officials to find a meaningful way for the county to involve itself in large scale annexations such as this. It is outrageous that the state has allowed the county to weigh in on such small things as the placement of fences but when the highest density community in the region seeks to grow massively, we are given no role. The DEC commissioner should amend the SEQRA regulations to provide for a county SEQRA role and the state legislators should keep hammering on this instead of letting the issue drop.”

Meanwhile, United Monroe issued a strident reaction to Szegedin’s comments. United Monroe, like a coalition of towns and villages, plus Orange County, has gone to court to prevent the annexation. The group’s statement, issued from founders Emily Convers and John Allegro, reads as follows:

“Gedalye Szegedin’s email to our elected leaders is a disgrace. It is a shakedown attempt by a desperate man. Things are different now. The morally corrupt method of the KJPE (Kiryas Joel Power Elite) to achieve manifest destiny by threat – doesn’t work on us anymore. “General Municipal Law is very clear; school district borders do not change because of annexation. This was a fact when annexation was approved. It is still true today. There is only one way that the Monroe Woodbury School District will be affected with swift certainty. That is if annexation is approved, and tens of thousands of people move into high density housing in an expanded Kiryas Joel.

“Szegedin’s chart of ‘move-outs’ is subterfuge. Most of the families that moved from KJ into the surrounding neighborhoods lived there for many years before the annexation petitions were submitted. “The KJPE is complicit in creating a manufactured housing crisis,” United Monroe continued in its statement. “KJ-tied investors and developers, who hide behind LLC’s, own hundreds of acres of land near KJ. They prefer to keep this “crisis” alive by refusing to develop this land responsibly and sustainably, while they wait for annexations which will allow them to overbuild.

“The scam that Szegedin and the KJPE are trying to perpetrate on us, including the residents of KJ, would generate hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the Village’s pipeline project, and to line the pockets of a few powerful men. Now that his big lie has been exposed, and people within his Village are openly expressing their discontent, Szegedin is up to his old tricks.”

One commentator to Quinn’s article wrote about the statement “The natural growth of the Hasidic residents of Kiryas Joel is in the range of 250-300 new marriages per year, requiring 250-300 new apartment units per year,” as follows:

“Since it’s customary for children to marry in the Hasidic community at about age 18, where are these youngsters getting the money to pay rents and mortgages? As we all know, the average income of people in this age bracket is statistically very low. My oldest son is just about to turn 18, and earns about $9/hr working part-time at Taco Bell. Even if he were full-time, it would certainly not be enough to pay a rent. I want to hear the answer to this. It should be interesting. Again, how do 18 years olds in KJ afford rent/mortgage? Please tell….”

Blaise Gomez, a reporter for News 12, wrote on her Facebook page this afternoon under the headline ‘BLOOMING GROVE BLOCKBUSTING’:

“Donna McGoldrick is one of several Blooming Grove residents who say they are being bombarded with daily solicitations and cash offers to sell their homes to Hassidic developers and residents in Kiryas Joel. Controversial expansion plans in the ultra-orthodox Village of Kiryas Joel are on hold due to a lawsuit. In an email to local and county leaders, Village Administrator Gedalye Szegedin referred to a large number of home purchases outside of Kiryas Joel by residents as a “messy overflow” that can be prevented if the annexation were to go through.” The resident in the Gomez report is holding up letters from Keller-Williams.

(We have uploaded Gomez’s News 12 report below. If the video opens up in a new window with a blank screen, click on the screen a second time to play it)

Meanwhile to the South of Rockland County we read from that Toms River is among towns restricting door-to-door solicitation amid an Hasidic influx ……

LAKEWOOD — James Jackson didn’t want to sell his home but thanked the black-suited man for his interest anyway. That’s when the man put his hand on Jackson’s shoulder and told him he might want to reconsider. Many of his neighbors in the New Jersey shore town of Toms River, the man said, already planned to sell to Jewish buyers like those he represented.

“He asked me why I would want to live in a Hasidic neighborhood if I wasn’t Hasidic,” Jackson recalled. “He asked if I would really be happy, if it would be in my family’s best interests.”

A housing crunch in Lakewood, home to one of the nation’s largest populations of Hasidic Jews, has triggered what residents of neighboring communities say are overly aggressive, all-hours solicitations from agents looking to find homes for the rapidly growing Jewish community. The complaints have prompted towns, including Toms River, to update their “no-knock” rules and related laws, adding real estate inquiries to measures that already limit when soliciting can occur and allow residents to bar solicitations.

But Jewish leaders and others say the no-knock laws unfairly target Orthodox Jews and those seeking to help them find houses. Many current residents came to the community to study at one of the largest yeshivas in the world and eventually settled down. The 2010 census found the town had nearly 93,000 residents, about 32,000 more than a decade earlier. And town officials believe there are closer to 120,000 residents now.

“The growth in Lakewood is a sign of the great quality of life which is attracting all these people,” said Avi Schnall, the state director of Agudath Israel, a national grassroots advocacy and social service organization representing Orthodox Jews. “However, the challenge is being able to keep up with the influx,” Schnall added. “This has driven people to take residence in nearby towns, where houses are more available and affordable.”

Schnall calls the recent no-knock changes “troubling.” He also believes there is a campaign to prevent members of the Orthodox community from moving in. And he thinks the real estate agents are being used as the scapegoats, claims that leaders in neighboring towns say are unfounded.

Samuel Heilman, a sociology professor at Queens College in New York City and a leading authority on Orthodox Judaism, says he doubts that such laws are anti-Semitic in their origins. But he notes that the measures may now be invoked more aggressively by people trying to keep Orthodox Jews out of their neighborhoods, for fear the area will become a Hasidic community.

“The problem is structural: Hasidim live in Hasidic communities predominantly. They can only move as groups,” said Heilman. “That leads to counter-moves by other groups who do not want their community to be inundated by them.”

Municipal leaders stress that their laws are not aimed at keeping out any groups, but rather to protect residents. “Our ‘no knock’ law goes back many years. It’s not just in response to what has been happening now,” Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher said. “We are trying to protect those people from conduct that’s outrageous, harassing, intimidating or unwelcome.”

Jackson said he was working outside his home last fall when he was unexpectedly approached by the man in the black suit. The encounter was initially cordial but turned darker, he said. “He was trying to intimidate me, but not in a physical way,” Jackson said. “He was playing mind games, and he was really good at it.”

Toms River is also in the process of creating “cease and desist” zones, where door-to-door real estate soliciting would be banned in designated areas that have been inordinately and repeatedly solicited. The ordinance is modeled on one in New York state that held up in court despite objections from realty groups. The New York rule allows residents to petition for their neighborhood to be included on the list of areas where solicitation is not allowed.

Realty groups say they their main concern is to find common ground. “Our local communities are incredibly important to both our members and our association,” said Mary Ann Wissel, chief executive officer of the Ocean County Board of Realtors. She said the group was working with real estate agents and local officials to ensure that any no-knock registry laws are both “respectful to homeowners as well as fair to the lawful business practices of our members.”

David Eckman, a Hasidic real estate investor, acknowledged that most of his visits to gauge people’s interest in selling their homes are unsolicited, but he said he has never tried to intimidate or mislead anyone. “People need homes, and I’m trying to help them find those homes,” Eckman said. “They just want a nice place in a nice community, like everyone else.” Eckman said anyone using fear tactics, be it directly or implied, should be barred. “If they do that, they make us all look bad,” Eckman said. “There are enough negative stereotypes out there about Jewish people, and doing things like that just makes people think they are true.”

Where all of the above is going is anyone’s guess. However, it does seem that Rockland County will be facing many of these same issues very shortly. Presently there are 23,000 children from Rockland County attending private yeshivas and it is believed that there will be 50,000 within a decade. How this growth can be accommodated is unknown. Obviously, it is time that political and religious leaders of all parts of both these spectra begin to plan for the future so that change can occur smoothly and hopefull to the mutual benefit of all.

However, one thing that is not acceptable is Block Busting or Intimidation!

Taken from an article of the same title “Are our neighbors to the North and South being subjected to blockbusting?” posted from a FB site in Rockland County.
See also: “Letter: Blockbusting going on outside Lakewood” from published March 2, 1016

UPDATE: Toms River Chabad Hearing To Be Rescheduled

We are reblogging this post and thank its authors. The problem, described here and in the articles that preceded it, is not limited to the Toms River area but is similar in East Ramapo, Monroe-Woodbury and so on. In East Ramapo, the different Hasidic sects are diverse. The Twersky family can be found in New Square. The Satmar are in Monsey and further north in Kiryas Joel. But the issues are largely similar: zoning violations, voting blocks, blockbusting, destruction of public education, manipulation of public health and welfare services. – LostMessiah, March 1, 2016


Toms River certainly has been getting its share of haredi headaches lately.Chabad-Toms-River-house  The rural town has been trying to combat aggressive haredi real estate buying tactics from nearby Lakewood.  And their local Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Gourarie, has already shown the town that he has little or no regard for their local zoning laws.

A town meeting last December drew over 1,200 participants to determine if Gourarie should be allowed a permit to operate a Chabad Jewish Center on his seven-acre property which contains a 5,500-square-foot main house and a 1,400-square-foot garage.  Gourarie’s Chabad is a nonprofit organization, and he does not pay taxes on the property, where he and his family also live (a familiar scenario in the Chabad House business model).  Nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition opposing the application of the permit.

Ashbury Park Press has a detailed history of the Toms River Chabad…

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