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Hasidic Jews in New York seek to expand enclave

Hasidic Jews in New York seek to expand enclave (AP 7.5.14)

KIRYAS JOEL, N.Y. (AP) — Kiryas Joel is a fast-growing island of ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic Jews in a suburban stretch of New York’s Hudson Valley. Sidewalks are busy with mothers in head coverings pushing strollers, and kids’ plastic trikes seem to outnumber cars.

Now a petition to expand the densely settled village by annexing 507 acres of leafy lots nearby has heightened tensions with some suburban neighbors. While expansion could help a village bursting at the seams, there are fears it would lead to unwanted increases in apartment complexes, homes and traffic.

“The quality of life here will be completely destroyed,” said John Allegro, standing on his family’s wooded 1.5-acre lot, which he said would be semi-circled by annexed land. Allegro said he moved farther from New York City to escape that kind of hubbub.

Kiryas Joel was founded within the town of Monroe in the mid-1970s by members of the Satmar sect seeking a more tranquil setting than Brooklyn, about 60 miles south. Men here wear black suits with brimmed hats and women dress modestly. Marriages come early and families are large, which has helped the population grow from about 12,000 in 1994 to around 22,000 now. An average of more than two babies are born here a day.

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