Friday, August 14, 2015
Certificates of occupancy were issued Thursday morning for 24 units in a controversial residential development designed to accommodate Hasidic families in the Village of Bloomingburg.
Certificates of occupancy have been delayed repeatedly over the last year as the village board and the Town of Mamakating board have battled with each other and developer Shalom Lamm in court over various aspects of the Chestnut Ridge development, which would add 396 homes to a village with a current population of about 400.
The Mamakating town and planning boards filed suit against Bloomingburg and its building inspector in July to prevent the village from issuing certificates of occupancy until Lamm meets all planning code requirements. In multiple court appearances in Sullivan County, two judges refused to grant temporary restraining orders that would have prevented Bloomingburg from issuing any certificates of occupancy.
Judge Stephan Schick told Mamakating at its last court appearance that he would not issue a restraining order to prevent the certificates from being issued, but as soon as they were issued, Mamakating could file another petition to the court.
John Henry, attorney for Lamm's company, Sullivan Farms, confirmed that 24 certificates of occupancy were issued Thursday.
Mamakating Town Supervisor Bill Herrmann said Thursday afternoon that he had heard the certificates of occupancy had been issued, but it had not been confirmed for him.
"As soon as they're issued, we're back in court," Herrmann said.
Lamm has not complied with several legal requirements, Herrmann said. Lamm does not have a license for his water transportation company, he has not received town permission for a well that is located within 200 feet of town property, and the height of the development's buildings and the width of its streets do not meet the state fire code, according to Herrmann.
Steve Mogel, Bloomingburg village attorney, said the village believes, under the guidance of its building inspector, engineer and other experts, that the development meets all legal requirements, and everything has been done to ensure the health and safety of its residents.
The village board held its regular August meeting Thursday night and allowed public comments about the certificates of occupancy.
Though the small meeting room was almost full, fewer than 10 residents asked questions of Mayor Frank Gerardi and Mogel about the certificates. Several residents questioned Mogel about letters he sent to four property owners, asking the residents if they would consider giving an easement along their property line to accommodate a sidewalk from the development to the village center. When the residents expressed concern about the placement of the sidewalk, Mogel said his only obligation was to ask residents if they would consider an easement, but the negotiations regarding the easement and the sidewalk will have to be finalized between Lamm and the residents.
One resident asked if the certificates of occupancy carried a maximum occupancy for each residence. The 24 issued did not, but Mogel said he could look at that possibility for future certificates.
The village expects to be back in court with Mamakating soon, Mogel said, and in the meantime attorneys for all the parties have agreed that no one will move into the units for at least two weeks, allowing time for court arguments.
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