The head of Rockland County’s volunteer task force on illegal housing says rampant building and fire code violations in the heavily haredi Town of Ramapo are a “time bomb waiting to go off” and require an immediate state investigation. New York State wants specific paperwork to be submitted by the task force before it will intervene, no matter how many innocent people may be in danger in the meantime.
The Journal News reports:
The head of Rockland County’s volunteer task force on illegal housing says rampant building and fire code violations in the Town of Ramapo are a “time bomb waiting to go off” and require a state investigation.
“The volunteer fire service in Rockland is not about to wait until dead bodies are pulled from these ‘weapons of mass construction,’ be they civilians or firefighters,” John Kryger wrote in a June 1 letter to the New York state Division of Code Enforcement and Administration.
Kryger, chairman of the Rockland County Illegal Housing Task Force and a West Haverstraw volunteer firefighter, has been a leading proponent among local firefighters for stricter enforcement of fire and safety codes, and adherence to zoning regulations, particularly in Ramapo and its villages, which have seen a spate of development in recent years.
Kryger said he sent the letter to Ronald Piester, director of the Division of Code Enforcement and Administration, with hopes the state would take notice of what he says is a lack of enforcement by the town and some of its villages.
The all-volunteer task force reports complaints of code violations to local jurisdictions, which typically follow through and resolve issues through their code enforcement offices.
“Such has not been the case in Ramapo, Kaser, New Hempstead and Spring Valley,” Kryger wrote. There, violations are issued and ignored, and court cases are repeatedly postponed, he said.
“We haven’t gotten any satisfaction from the Town of Ramapo on any of the violations that have been reported to us,” he told The Journal News on Monday. “And we waited and waited and waited and we’ve asked two or three times … and we got tired of waiting.”…
Ramapo and the various villages deny the Rockland County Illegal Housing Task Forces' allegations. Ramapo essentially says it does the best job in the area – which is demonstrably false – and Spring Valley complains that its code enforcement is very understaffed and underfunded, and it does the best it can.
In 2007, the state intervened in new Square after firefighters refused to serve the hasidic village anymore because of the rampant code violations and illegal building. It worked to bring New Square into some semblance of compliance.
It might end up doing the same thing with the Town of Ramapo, Spring Valley and several other villages in the county. But first it says it needs a formal written complaint from the Rockland County Illegal Housing Task Force. Kryger's letter, despite its specificity, isn't good enough no matter how many innocent citizens and firefighters are at risk.
[Hat Tip: Devorah.]