Vizhnitz Hasidim in the Catskills vote to approve new village of Ateres
The proposed village is centered around the Vizhnitz yeshiva, which had taken over the old Gibber Hotel opposite Kiamesha Lake and has grown into a community of over 800
Postcard showing the old Gibber Hotel, ca. 1940, later converted to a yeshiva, on the site of the proposed new village of Ateres. Photo: Tichnor Brothers Collection/Boston Public Library
Jan 22, 2024 5:45 PM
Despite a last-minute postponement attempt, members of the Vizhnitz Hasidic community voted on Thursday to approve the new village of Ateres in Sullivan County, allowing them to elect their own mayor, pass laws, and modify zoning rules, according to MidHudson News. The vote was 226 to 2.
The referendum almost didn’t happen. According to multiple news outlets, Town of Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber and Town of Fallsburg Supervisor Michael Bensimon tried to cancel the referendum in light of new state laws for village incorporation. But at the last minute, Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Stephan Schick ordered that the election be held anyway, according to the River Reporter.
In December, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed two bills that make it harder to form new villages by raising the population requirement from 500 to 1,500. But she negotiated an exception for Ateres, which would not otherwise have met the new requirements.
Rieber had raised objections to the new village in the past, calling it a “scheme” for control over zoning laws, according to the Sullivan County Democrat.
The area of the proposed village contains an existing community of Vizhnitz Hasidim, who had set up a yeshiva several decades ago on the site of the old Gibber Hotel opposite Kiamesha Lake. Today, the community has expanded into a 929-acre enclave with a population of over 800, and includes a large synagogue, a supermarket, and other community services.
The vote was held at the synagogue Khal Toras Chaim Viznitz.