“A builder is being accused by his neighbors of potentially building more apartments than approved by Ramapo planners at a large housing complex on the former Temple Beth El property along Viola Road.
The legal action accuses the Ramapo chief building inspector of allowing the construction to continue and even conditionally approving the additional living space in violation of approved plans.
While Ramapo officials acknowledge builder Shimmy Galanduer violated approved plans, his fellow Orthodox Jewish neighbors are demanding in their legal action that a judge stop construction and order remediation, including possibly tearing down the buildings. Developer Ephraim Grossman owns the property under Viola Gardens LLC.”
Those are the basic elements of the story, as reported by Steve Lieberman in LoHud this weekend. However, Steve also uncovered a triangle at the core of this already interesting first-ever orthodox neighbors suing both the orthodox developer and the Town of Ramapo. We’ll get back to the essentials of the legal conflict in a minute, but first consider these additional facts the reporter included in his story:
“When Galanduer [head of the construction company] got caught after neighbors complained to Ramapo, Building Inspector Anthony Mallia approved the updated plans that included the accessory basement apartments instead of moving to stop the construction, with the proviso the builder was approved by the Town Board, Conway [the neighbors’ attorney] said.”
OK, so the neighbors reported the builder violating the plans, but Mallia approved the updated plans with the proviso the Town Board approve the changes. So the principals in the story now become the builder Shimmy Galanduer, Anthony Mallia (Ramapo Director of Building, Planning and Zoning), and Christopher St. Lawrence [the only voice on the town board that matters—don’t believe it, check the voting records of the other members]. Lieberman then adds these lines:
“Raising additional questions for the neighbors is that 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 sales asking price is now $1.29 million.”
Actually, Galanduer is not just another donor for St. Lawrence. Shimmy is one of the heavy hitters among other Monsey and Kiryas Joel builders. Shimmy’s Enterprise LLC (Galanduer is CEO) wrote a $5,000 check on 9/29/2015 and then another $5,000 check dated 9/30/2015 to St. Lawrence’s dark campaign committee called “Leadership that’s Working.” Hiding the donors seems to be working fine there, but I don’t know about the “leadership” part of it.
As for Anthony Mallia, he is selling his 11-bedroom, 9-bathroom home in Airmont for $1.29 million. Here’s what it looks like.
Shimmy’s $200,000 extension on Mallia’s house has made quite a difference. The purchase price has gone from $435,000 in 2006 to $1.3m as it is currently listed for sale.
Not the usual kind of triangle that gets people into trouble—here the commonality doesn’t seem to be mutual affection, looks more like the attractant might just be cash.
Hopefully, the lawsuit brought by the neighbors will wring out a few more facts about this relationship. The attorney Conway filed the action on June 3 in Putnam County in order that any potential judicial conflicts not become a part of the proceedings.
Lieberman reported that “Construction on the massive three-story buildings continued Friday at the site, across from Ramapo High School. Critics contend the project would have likely been shutdown in other towns, not given the go-head until approvals after the fact could be sought.
“We’re asking for judicial intervention because we believe the builder has exceeded the approved site plan concerning the amount of apartments and living space,” Conway said. “We’re asking the building inspector to do his job and stop the project and have the violations removed.”
Read Steve Lieberman’s story “Lawsuit: Ramapo developer building more apartments than OK’d by planners” here.