“The builder of Viola Estates stealthily built space for illegal accessory apartments in the basements and upper floors of townhouses contrary to site plans approved by the Ramapo Planning Board, an attorney for neighbors told a judge on Thursday.
The neighbors want the judge to close down construction of the 44-home development after they say an on-site inspection report they commissioned found unapproved space for accessory apartments, evidenced by separate multiple plumbing, gas and electrical systems, separate water heaters and boilers.
After Thursday’s court hearing in New City courthouse, the Ramapo Building Department issued a stop work order on the Viola Road project, according to a document outlining the order.
The reasons cited were additions to the townhouses not included in the site plans approved by the Ramapo Planning Board. The order cited each townhouse having an extra kitchen, hot water heater and boilers.
During the court hearing, Mogel, representing the neighbors, provided Supreme Court Justice William Kelly with photos of the added space, facilities and other evidence to support the neighbors’ contentions that the building plans had been changed, including showing “walk-in closets” that actually are constructed as extra kitchens. He spoke about three separate entrances to the units with three door bells, along with additional meters for utilities.
(Click this link to view a copy of the Site Visit Report presented to Judge Kelly: willingham-report-viola-estates-final-20161019)
Mogel asked Kelly to stop construction, arguing that once the complex is completed and people move in the issue would be more difficult to address.
“We know there are illegal apartments,” Mogel told Kelly. “It’s a fraud. They are doubling density, at least. We cannot depend on the town to do the right thing. We need you, your honor.”
The former Temple Beth El property was originally zoned for single-family homes, allowing 1.74 units per acre. The Ramapo Town Board, at the developer’s request, changed the zone to multiple family housing, permitting eight units per acre in July 2013. The change allowed for 44 units in 20 three-floor townhouses squeezed into the 5.5 acres next door to the former synagogue building and parking lot.
The neighbors’ legal action names as defendants Mallia, Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, and Grossman and other officials.
Development builder Shimmy Galanduer, a campaign contributor to St. Lawrence, also built the $200,000 extension to Mallia’s Airmont house, according to Airmont village records. The house’s asking sale price is now $1.29 million.” See Shimmy, Chris, and Tony.
Read the complete Journal News story here.