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Mar 8, 2016 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Settlement Allows Jewish Religious Boundary To Expand East To Quogue Village

Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius AMANDA BERNOCCO
Mar 9, 2016 11:50 AM

Quogue Village officials on Monday settled with the group that has been fighting for years to expand a religious boundary into their municipality—an agreement that will allow those behind the push to finally have the boundary they first envisioned, one that encompasses all of Westhampton Beach, as well as parts of Quiogue and Quogue.

In exchange for dropping their longstanding objections to the boundary, called an eruv, Quogue officials are no longer on the hook to potentially pay the legal costs accrued by attorneys representing the East End Eruv Association, or EEEA, the organization that has been pushing for the boundary’s creation on behalf of the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach.

The decision most likely saved the village millions of dollars in legal fees, according to Yehudah Buchweitz, a partner at the Manhattan law firm of Weil, Gotshal and Manges, which has been representing the EEEA pro bono for several years, when reached on Tuesday.

“In my view, this was inevitable, and the right move by the village,” Mr. Buchweitz said.

The settlement mirrors the one signed by Southampton Town officials in September in which the town officially dropped its objections to the boundary’s expansion into the hamlets of Westhampton and Quiogue. In exchange, the town also avoided paying the fees accrued by attorneys representing the EEEA.

Even though they are not charging the EEEA, attorneys with the Manhattan firm of Weil, Gotshal and Manges could still seek reimbursement from the municipalities—assuming that they were successful in their litigation that fought to have the boundary expanded.

“It’s a great deal for them and their taxpayers,” Mr. Buchweitz said, again noting that Quogue Village could have been on the hook for millions of dollars. “In my view, there was no victory for them, so they might as well not spend any more money … I think it will be good for everyone.”

Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius said in an email that his village’s settlement “essentially mimics” the agreement the EEEA made with Southampton Town this past summer. Since it started fighting the eruv in 2011, Quogue Village has spent approximately $114,000 in legal fees and related expenses, according to the mayor.

An eruv is a special zone that allows adherent Orthodox Jews to push and carry objects that would otherwise be forbidden on the Sabbath. Established in the summer of 2014 in the Village of Westhampton Beach, the eruv effectively turns outside space within its boundaries to inside space under Orthodox law, permitting the normally banned activities that include the pushing of strollers and the carrying of house keys.

Both Quogue Village and Southampton Town had rejected requests to expand the eruv on grounds that the proposed markers—thin, translucent PVC strips that must be affixed to utility poles—qualify as signs and are therefore illegal. The town opted to drop its challenge after State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Farneti overturned an August 2013 decision by the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals stating that the placing of the markers, called lechis, on utility poles would violate the town’s sign ordinance. The village, meanwhile, continued to press on with its objections.

In his email, Mr. Sartorius said that the EEEA can now work with LIPA and Verizon to install the lechis on utility poles in Quogue.

The lechis in Quogue will be colored to match the utility poles, according to the settlement papers submitted Tuesday to Judge Kathleen Tomlinson in Central Islip by Robert Sugarman, another pro bono attorney for the EEEA. The agreement also notes that the village cannot adopt a resolution that prohibits the lechis, and that their installation and maintenance will be the paid for by the EEEA.

Although an official map has not yet been made, Mr. Buchweitz said the eruv will be similar to the plans first shared in early 2012. They included a map with 48 lechis affixed to utility poles along Montauk Highway, between Old Main Road and Jessup Avenue, as well as along Scrub, Old Depot and Old Country roads. That version notes that the proposed boundary would also be marked by certain natural landmarks and connected with overhead power lines.

Litigation is still ongoing with Westhampton Beach Village, Mr. Buchweitz said, adding that there have been no advancements in that case since the middle of 2015.

Marc Schneier, the founding rabbi of the Hampton Synagogue and who first proposed the eruv in 2008, described the settlement as “fantastic,” noting that his parishioners have been waiting eight years for its creation.

“People are very excited, particularly families that reside in Quogue, east of Westhampton Beach,” Rabbi Schneier said. “It’s a very meaningful and significant development for our Jewish community.

“I’m just grateful to God, and to our many friends and supporters, and we thank the community for helping us to pass this,” he added.

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This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mqhbny, Hampton Bays on Mar 8, 16 3:07 PM
When religion loses the favor of the people, it becomes mythology.
By Mr. Z (10410), North Sea on Mar 9, 16 7:27 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By 1eastquogueinusa (34), East Quogue on Mar 9, 16 9:05 AM
What an utter scam - sue the villages and then selfishly have your way by not forcing them to pay your legal fees. What about the people who want to use this space this way providing themselves with their own map and leave it at that. Can't they read a map? Who pays for the demarcations of their designated space? They themselves or the villages? What happens if there is an accident within their designated space by a person unaware of the demarcation - who is not of their religion - and furthermore ...more
By Vikki K (487), Southampton on Mar 10, 16 1:11 PM
Oh, Vikki K, I think you are commenting on the wrong article
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (554), southampton on Mar 11, 16 7:33 AM
Hampton Bays Rotary, Autumn Evening by the Sea, Joyce Oakland, Oaklands Restaurant