Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Board: Private school still needs proof of adequate water supply 

Planning board members said an adequate water supply was the only concern that's prevented them from making a determination on site-plan approval for developer Shalom Lamm's private girls school during its meeting Tuesday.

Terresa Bakner, the attorney representing the school, made a plea at the beginning of its presentation for the board to make a decision. She added they had appeared before the board several times since June 30.

"Everything has been addressed," Bakner said. "You can see from our letter that the issues that remain are quite minor."

Planning board officials agreed that many of their concerns had been addressed or could be worked out in the future. But John Cappello, attorney for the board, says there has been no evidence that any information regarding water testing had been sent to the state Department of Health, which he says is a requirement.

"That has been our position since July," Cappello said.

He added that Bakner's claim that the board had stalled on a decision was "disingenuous."

Bakner says their group had drilled three test wells, which they say proved there was an adequate water supply. However, Cappello says the board needs the project team's submission and information sent to the health department before a decision on site approval could be made.

Bakner has previously said she felt the board treated the project unfairly. It's one of the reasons her firm, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, is behind the $25 million lawsuit brought against the town and the Village of Bloomingburg. It claims "pervasive government-sponsored religious discrimination" through the use of zoning laws and other legislation."

The board suggested the project team have that information regarding the water supply by the Jan. 20 meeting. However, Bakner says she isn't sure they could get a response from the health department by the board's deadline.

Lamm, who is behind the 396-home Hasidic development in Bloomingburg, had planned to open the school this past September.

Bakner declined to comment after the meeting.

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