24 of the 396 units in Modern Orthodox developer Shalom Lamm’s high-density Chestnut Ridge housing development – better known in the hasidic community as a prospective Satmar "shtetl" called Kiryas Yetev Lev – in semi-rural Bloomingburg, New York were issued certificates of occupancy Thursday morning, even though some civil authorities say the property does not meet New York State fire code and has other violations.
Hasidic Development In Bloomingburg Gets Certificates Of Occupancy – Even Though Buildings And Streets Allegedly Fail To Meet NY State’s Fire Code
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
24 of the 396 units in Modern Orthodox developer Shalom Lamm’s high-density Chestnut Ridge housing development in semi-rural Bloomingburg, New York were issued certificates of occupancy Thursday morning, the Times Herald-Record reported – even though civil authorities say the property does not meet the state fire code and has other violations.
The board of the tiny 420-person village, located in Sullivan County in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, and the board of the abutting Town of Mamakating have fought a prolonged legal battle with each other and with Lamm over the Chestnut Ridge development, which was originally pitched to the tiny village through a straw man developer hired by Lamm to mask his own involvement. The original pitch to the village was for a low-density vacation and retirement golf community complete with a 9-hole course.
But critics of Lamm – of which there are many – say Lamm never intended to build this bucolic development. Instead, they argue that Lamm always planned on building a high-density hasidic development meant to house approximately 2,000 hasidim and to convert Bloomingburg into a Satmar hasidic shtetl to be known as Kiryas Yetev Lev.
Last month, Mamakating’s town and planning boards sued Bloomingburg and its building inspector to prevent Bloomingburg from issuing any certificates of occupancy. But two different judges refused to issue temporary restraining orders to block Bloomingburg from issuing them.
However, one of those judges, Stephan Schick, told Mamakating it could file another petition with the court after the certificates of occupancy are issued, and Mamakating’s Town Supervisor Bill Herrmann reportedly said Thursday afternoon that as soon as the town gets official notification the certificates of occupancy were issued, “we're back in court.”
Herrmann noted Lamm does not have a license for his water transportation company, does not have Mamakating’s permission for a well, and said the height of Chestnut Ridge buildings and the width of Chestnut Ridge streets do not meet the state fire code.
Bloomingburg’s attorney says the tiny village believes based on the professional advice it has been given that Chestnut Ridge meets all legal requirements.
The certificates of occupancy Bloomingburg issued do not have a maximum occupancy listed, meaning each residence could in theory house 20 or 30 adults, even though they’re clearly designed to house single hasidic families. The village board indicated this oversight could possibly be rectified when issuing future certificates of occupancy. But in the meantime, the poorly drawn certificates of occupancy may allow Lamm and the hasidim to legally fill those 24 units with adults of voting age and use them to vote in pro-hasidic office-holders in the next election or pass special legislation Lamm and the hasidim need to move forward.
Until the arrival of Lamm, Bloomingburg had no known Orthodox Jewish population. But it did have non-Orthodox Jewish residents – many of whom have become Lamm’s staunchest opponents as evidence of bribery and other corruption allegedly committed by backers of the development mounted.