Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Stop work orders for mikvah, stores in Bloomingburg 

In its first moves against the projects of the developer of the controversial 396 home Hasidic development, the new leadership of Bloomingburg has slapped stop work orders on two of Shalom Lamm's Main Street buildings.

One is the long steel structure on 132 Main Street that Lamm wants to convert into a private girls school to serve his development. It was being used as a mikvah — a ritual bath house — without a permit for an indoor pool. The orange stop work order declares "no further work" can be done without a permit.

"Pool not to be used," it says.

The other building, on 78 Main Street, has three retail storefronts where many claimed work was being done despite stop work orders issued by the village's former building inspector.

The new order asks for "detailed plans" of both the retail and residential parts of the buildings which boasts one sign that says, "Just a few more days to the grand opening (of) Cafe Au Main Kosher Dairy." The other signs are for Bloomingburg Pediatrics and a Judaica store.

The orders mark a change in the way the eastern Sullivan County village is run, says new Bloomingburg Mayor Frank Gerardi, who has already held three board meetings in three weeks — compared to one regularly scheduled meeting in the past seven months under former Mayor Mark Berentsen.

"Everything is going to be inspected. Everything's got to be up to code, not just for him (Lamm) but for everybody," said Gerardi. "I'm sorry, but that's the law."

Lamm, who has had a stop work order issued for a proposed mikvah in the Town of Mamakating, has met with Gerardi and said he would comply.

"We are working through our design professionals with the village's new engineer to address any concerns that they have," he said in an email. "We have had many permits previously, and we're working in an organized manner to comply with the new team's requirements. We've always complied to the best of our ability with the rules of the Village, and intend to continue doing so going forward."

For opponents of Lamm and his development, the stop work orders signify another turning point in this village of some 400. Not only is there a new mayor, the FBI in March raided Lamm's properties and a court rejected the registrations of more than 100 voters in his buildings. On Monday, an Albany appeals court heard Lamm's arguments to lift a Sullivan County Supreme Court judge's stop work order on part of his development.

"It's great," said Amanda Conboy. "There's finally some kind of accountability."


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