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Reporters from NorthJersey.com and lohud.com discuss the growth of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox communities, and expansion of a Rockland eruv into New Jersey, Aug. 10, 2017.
NorthJersey.com

MAHWAH — Township officials will begin to issue summonses next week to an Orthodox Jewish group attempting to build a religious boundary through a section of the township.  

The white PVC pipes installed on utility poles that mark the boundary, which is known as an eruv, violate a local ordinance that prohibits signs on trees, rocks or utility poles, township have said.   

Legal counsel for the South Monsey Eruv Fund planned to take swift action Friday by filing a complaint against the township in U.S. District Court in Newark. Yehudah Buchweitz, an attorney with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said the eruv will remain standing despite the summonses.  

“There’s no law that I’m aware of that actually prohibits the lechis,” he said, referring to the pipes. 

A crowd of more than 200 stood in applause for the council’s unanimous vote Thursday night. The first summonses will be issued next Friday, said Township Attorney Brian Chewcaskie.  

“It was put up by someone without the permission of the township,” Council President Robert Hermansen said of the eruv Thursday night. “There is not a council member here who voted for this, which is where it should have come through for authorization.” 

Mayor Bill Laforet, however, said he requested that the council withhold the summonses. He said the council might thrust the township into costly legal fight if they pursued the court summonses. He cited a worst case scenario in Tenafly, in which the community lost a six year court battle with an eruv group, and incurred hundreds of thousands in legal fees.  

He instead recommended the township create a window for negotiation with the eruv group.  

“I think it doesn’t bode well for our community to issue summonses,” Laforet said. “My opinion was that we simply give these conversations an opportunity to play out for the next two weeks, and then decide what we’ll do,” Laforet said.   

The eruv fund undertook a project in May to expand its eruv in Rockland County into…