A state appellate panel found Ramapo acted legally when it took away a congregation’s religious tax exemption for illegally setting up trailers at a Forshay Road property.
The Appellate Division decision, released Wednesday, says Congregation Ateres Yisroel’s zoning violation allowed the Ramapo tax assessor to remove its religious tax exemption in 2012. The congregation had installed two trailers without proper permits for use as dormitories at 33 Forshay Road for more than 20 students, in violation of the property’s certificate of occupancy.
The property’s certificate of occupancy, issued July 12, 1954, permitted a “one family-dwelling,” the decision states. From 2008 to 2011, the congregation sought and received a property tax exemption for religious use.
Congregation officials fell afoul of then-Tax Assessor Scott Shedler in March 2012, however, when they represented no changes had been made to the property’s ownership or use.
The office, which does on-site inspections and works with the Building Department, denied the renewal and the Ramapo Board of Assessment Review upheld the denial.
Supreme Court Justice Margaret Garvey later upheld the town’s decision.
The appellate panel found while the congregation would otherwise qualify for the exemption on religious grounds, the “use of premises in violation of zoning law prohibits it from receiving a property tax exemption.” The panel returned the case to the Supreme Court for a judgment declaring the property not tax-exempt as of March 1, 2012.
The congregation’s lawyer, Donald Haberman of New City, was not available for comment Thursday morning.”
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