Sunday, March 12, 2006

New Square - Building violations

TJN: Fifty-two years ago, a Hasidic grand rabbi living in Brooklyn sent a band of followers to eastern Ramapo. The settlers lived in makeshift homes and tents before they began building what would become New Square on 130 acres of farmland. Once the building started, it never stopped. The construction grew more erratic, with additions on homes practically touching neighboring structures. Three- and four-story multifamily homes — which under state code can't be more than two stories — proliferated, and commercial businesses lay hidden in residential homes. What hasn't changed during the past decades are the complaints by Ramapo fire officials about violations of the zoning and fire safety codes. Typically, villages hire building and fire inspectors to enforce local and state codes. New Square has a fire inspector, Bill Press, but it is clear to outside officials that enforcement was not carried out. Press did not return calls for comment. Three years ago, pressed by the Moleston Fire District and the county's fire and emergency services coordinator, New York state intervened and began inspecting the village, the state's fastest growing community. A partial state survey estimated that more than 80 buildings failed to meet state fire and safety codes. New Square did not adopt the state codes — which are mandatory for all municipalities — until last year, and only after pressure from the state........
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