“With the town’s Chief Building Inspector Anthony Mallia suspended with pay, a state lawmaker on Friday renewed his call for a state takeover of the town department.
Mallia, 52, was charged late Thursday in an alleged scheme to provide reduced construction permit fees for builders that prosecutors say cost Ramapo taxpapers more than $100,000.
Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence said Friday that the town has been cooperating with the Rockland District Attorney’s Office’s investigation into Mallia, providing whatever documents and assistance the investigators needed.
St. Lawrence said the town also has established a three-member committee to review all building permits and the fees charged by Mallia from Jan. 1, 2015 to the present time. The panel will include two certified public accountants, including acting Tax Assessor Tom MacRobbie, and an architect, Lee Derario, who work for the town.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, again called for the state to take over Ramapo’s building inspection work.
Ramapo remains under state scrutiny for allegedly not enforcing fire and zoning codes, allowing schools to operate without planning board approval and buildings to linger with violations.
For years, Zebrowski has worked with the Rockland Illegal Housing Task Force to focus on what it calls a pervasive lack of code enforcement in Ramapo. The state Department of State Division of Building Standards and Codes has threatened to take control of Ramapo inspections.
The efforts led to a codes unit order directing Ramapo to correct various deficiencies.
Zebrowski said the charges against Mallia show there is a “culture of non-compliance and favoritism” that puts the safety of residents at risk.
“These charges show that the lack of enforcement is not a mistake, but a systematic and intentional subversion of the law that permeates this town government,” Zebrowski said in a letter Friday to New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “Without swift action and a complete overhaul of this building department, the safety of residents and first responders remain at risk.”
Mallia and the Building Department also perform inspections and other work for some Ramapo villages, including Chestnut Ridge. Chestnut Ridge CUPON member Hilda Kogut, a retired FBI agent, said the group, which focuses on development issues, is filing freedom of information requests with the village to obtain copies of property inspection reports and other documents.
“We are concerned because Mr. Mallia did work for the village and we want to make sure all the work is in order,” she said.”
To read the complete Journal News story, click here.