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A controversial e-mail from a Satmar Hasidic rabbi that urged opponents to vote down a divisive Williamsburg development project may have been fabricated!
Rabbi David Niederman — and dozens of supporters — blasted our online story on Friday that Niederman, a prominent leader of the Zalmanite faction, had sent an e-mail telling his fellow Community Board members that “we have to stop the Rose Plaza proposal” on the grounds that “it would be a major boost” for developer Isack Rosenberg’s Aronite charity, the Central Jewish Council.
The Central Jewish Council competes against Niederman’s United Jewish Organization for government financing.
But regardless, Niederman said, the e-mail was a complete fabrication — created by someone who wanted to cast doubt on Niederman’s opposition to the Rose Plaza project, which initially called for 801 units — 20 percent of which were below-market rent and none of which were larger than two-bedrooms.
“Whoever did this wanted to trick people into thinking that the issues that I was concerned about — affordable housing and the size of the apartment units — was just a smokescreen and that I really opposed the project because I’m a Zali and Rosenberg is an Aroni.”
All eyes are on board member David Weinstock, who claims he received Niederman’s e-mail in Dec. 3.
On Friday, Weinstock stuck to his story — and denied creating the toxic missive.
“I got the e-mail,” he said. “I guess I got it by mistake. They’re out to destroy [Rosenberg], demolish him and punish him, to deprive him from the right to make money [on the Rose Plaza Project] because he is not with them.”
Although the e-mail’s authorship remains in doubt, the controversy over its existence shed new light on the fissure inside Williamsburg’s largest Hasidic community — which split four years ago in a power struggle between the late Satmar Grand Rebbe’s two surviving brothers, Aron and Zalman Teitelbaum.
Rosenberg, one of the primary financial backers of the Aronite clan, has wanted to turn his Certified Lumber site on Kent and Division avenues into the mixed use complex. But with Niederman leading the fight, the proposal ran into opposition from Community Board 1, Borough President Markowitz and Councilman Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg).
Niederman’s fight to add more below-market-rate units and add more family-sized units eventually won the day, and the project now includes 30 percent affordable units, plus dozens of three- and four-bedroom apartments.
As a result, the Council approved the proposal on Wednesday by a vote of 47-1.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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