In a contentious and at times fiery meeting on Tuesday night, the Jackson Township Council voted Unanimously to settle with the developer of the proposed Jackson Trails development.
The developer, a religious Jew, had sued the Township after it denied his application for his development, claiming that he had been discriminated against due to religious animosity.
After years of legal maneuvers, Jackson finally decided to settle the case, with attorneys for the Township saying it wasn’t worth it to risk going to trial, which could have led to an even worse outcome for them.
While not all the details of the settlement are yet public – and it still needs a judge to sign off on it – it is known that the Jackson Trails development will now be able to move forward as originally planned. Additionally, the Township will pay the developer at least $700,000 for legal fees and other lawsuit-related expenses.
In an ironic twist, the Township’s attorney explained to the crowd that the reason why the Township found itself in such a bad position is not so much because it rejected the developer’s application, but because of the hate and animosity shown by the public toward Jews in hearings about the application, as well as in online forums.
It was these statements and comments which were directed at Jews and were clearly anti-Semitic that allowed the developer to argue – now successfully – that Jackson Trails was rejected because he is Jewish. Had they not made those comments, the issue would have been nothing more than a question of land use, not religious discrimination.
In other words, the very people who fought so hard against Jews being able to build and move into Jackson were the very ones who forced Jackson into settling and ultimately allosing more Jews to move into the Township.
During the meeting, a number of familiar faces who have made it difficult for religious Jewish life to thrive in Jackson made public comments, including Elenor Hannum, Sheldon Hofstein, Rich Ciullo, and Jennifer Cusanelli, who at first refused to say her name when beginning her comments.
A religious Jewish woman also commented, saying that while she knows there was so much hate against her in the room, she had nothing but love in her heart for them.
She also explained that the reason why religious Jews tend to congregate in specific areas is due to the upholding of religious morals and values – not because they are trying to separate or seclude themselves from their non-religious or non-Jewish fellow Jacksonians.