Pomona rabbinical college not a "natural" progression

By Lynn Yagel Community View in
The Journal News
(Original Publication: February 1, 2007)

I have to take great exception to attorney Paul Savad's statement in the Jan. 12 Journal News ("Pomona to get rabbinical college plan") that a rabbinical college in Pomona was a "natural progression" and that the character of the village is "evolving from country to more diverse development because of the people living here and the people moving here." While I understand he is being paid by his client to make such statements, and he himself is in the business of land development, I happen to live in the Village of Pomona.

The Village of Pomona is a quiet, semi-rural, community-based village. In recent years there have been some new developments of single-family homes, but the Pomona Planning Board has done its utmost to ensure village codes are followed and that those developments would not infringe greatly on the character or nature of the village.

To say that a virtual mini-city within the village - that will house thousands of homogenous individuals who can control village elections - is "natural" in any way is simply not true. Friends of ours have relayed instances of being intimidated and virtually forced to move to make way for this "natural progression." Since the 100-acre site was purchased in 2005, an additional 10 properties have already been bought along Route 306 by the developer, bringing the total acreage to 130. Why is it necessary to clear the path of homeowners in the surrounding areas who have lived here for years, raising their families, paying their taxes, and putting their heart and soul into their homes and the community? Is the best way to profit in real estate to buy property that is zoned single-family and then bypass/ignore zoning laws that apply to everyone else and bring in larger, more profitable housing projects that come off the tax rolls?

I have read that Mr. Savad says that there is a battle to come in Pomona and that they are very well-financed. Plans have not even been submitted to the village and yet he threatens potential litigation. If his clients are so well-financed, then why not submit plans for responsible development that is in accordance with the zoning? Maybe, there just wouldn't be enough profit if they followed the existing zoning laws.

There is nothing natural, ethical or pious about what the developer is attempting to do in Pomona right now. It is simply indifference, arrogance and greed, armed with the abusive hammer of a well-intended, but flawed, RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) law.

The Village of Pomona is a model of cultural, religious and racial diversity within a close-knit community of people who deserve equal application of zoning laws and it must stay that way for generations to come.

The writer is a Pomona resident.