MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The Mahwah Town Council has reversed course on two ordinances allegedly aimed at preventing Orthodox Jews from neighboring Rockland County from using its parks.
Under instructions from the township attorney, the council would not speak publicly about the ordinances or the civil rights lawsuit filed by the state attorney general’s office, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
But Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet was speaking.
“Let no one think for a second they just had an epiphany or a revelation,” he said. “There’s a threat of personal liability for each and everyone one of these council people who made a horrible decision.”
The mayor said the heated debate over the ordinances that banned non-Mahwah residents from township parks has left a black mark on the town.
“What we need to do is not look back and blame everybody, as the council has attempted to do. What we need is: Sit down and talk intelligently about what do we do now, what do we do to rehabilitate our community?” he said.
In October, the state attorney general’s office sued Mahwah over the ordinances, saying they illegally targeted the Jewish community from nearby New York.
One measure limited the use of a public park to state residents.
The council president told CBS2 the ban was not meant to target any specific group, claiming it’s in response to complaints of people with New York license plates taking over parks. He added that Mahwah taxpayers pay for the park’s upkeep and should get priority use.
The second measure effectively banned the building of an eruv, a religious boundary made up of white plastic piping on utility poles. Several pipes had been vandalized, prompting police to launch hate crime investigations.