Thursday, June 05, 2014

Bloomingburg mulls halt to building 

Five weeks after ordering work halted on Main Street buildings owned by developer Shalom Lamm, Bloomingburg officials are weighing a moratorium on building permits and the dissolution of the village's Planning and Zoning Boards.

On Monday, Village Hall hosted public hearings on three proposed local laws: Two would hand Bloomingburg's planning and zoning functions to the Town of Mamakating. The third institutes a minimum 30-day halt to commercial and residential permits.

Bloomingburg Mayor Frank Gerardi says the dissolution of the boards follows Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for local governments to consolidate services.

The moratorium, he said, will give the village time to inspect properties belonging to Lamm, whose effort to build a 396-home Hasidic complex ignited widespread opposition.

"It's to give us, the building inspector and the engineer, the chance to go through all of what was done in the past year without permits," Gerardi said. "I'm more concerned that there are no health issues."

Gerardi is part of a newly elected Village Board whose members rode a wave of anti-Lamm sentiment into office in March.

They confronted essentially nonfunctioning planning boards and nonpermitted work done on Lamm-owned properties along Main Street, he said.

"It's just completely and totally out of hand," said Holly Roche, president of Lamm critic Rural Community Coalition. "There are buildings I know that have been almost demolished and then rebuilt without a permit."

In April, the village ordered work halted on some of Lamm's Main Street buildings, including a property he wants to convert into a private girls' school. At the time of the order, it was being used as a mikvah — a ritual bath house — without proper permits.

For the last month, Bloomingburg's building department has been inspecting Lamm's properties, Gerardi said. The developer is cooperating with the review, he said.

"Depending on what year they're built, there could be asbestos and lead paint," Gerardi said. Village officials are discussing giving property owners the ability to apply for a "hardship" waiver from the building moratorium. That law and the ones dissolving the Planning and Zoning Boards could be voted on at the next village meeting.

Turning Bloomingburg's planning and zoning functions over to the town will not only satisfy the governor's push for consolidation, Gerardi and Mamakating Supervisor Bill Herrmann said.

It also starts a process in which the village and town align their zoning codes, and could be a step toward full merger, they said.

"It would certainly make sense," Herrmann said. "These are wasted layers of government service."


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