Two months ago, Rockland Voice ran a story involving possible code enforcement violations at the Congers Bicycle Shop (CBS) and later a statement made by Clarkstown Supervisor, George Hoehmann, was published in which Hoehmann indicated that his administration was extremely serious about following through on its campaign pledges concerning strict compliance to all of Clarkstown’s town codes.
It is our understanding that the CBS has been running an illegal second business from its property out of storage trailers that were never approved for use by the town.
The Town of Clarkstown reportedly gave the shop owner a ‘ten-day‘ Compliance Violation Order to remove the trailers which in essence meant that if the owner complied there would be no fines or sanctions for the past violations. The CBS chose to ignore the Violation Order and was subsequently issued a Summons to appear in Town Court for lack of compliance.
On the original court date required for appearance and response, the owner did not appear nor did any legal representative. But in Clarkstown no longer can its courts be told to ‘take a hike‘. The court appearance was rescheduled and the owner apparently appeared stating that he missed the first date due to illness. He then stated through his legal representative that he wished to challenge the Town of Clarkstown’s position because he feels that the true motivation behind his business being flagged for code violation is “anti-Semitism”.
For some reason, Judge Scott Ugell, seen in local ads on television standing on the steps of Congress promulgating his law firm’s expertise, decided to delay the hearing of this simple case for another month. As a result, an extremely dangerous situation developed over the Passover holiday when large groups of up to hundreds of bike renters came to the shop and created utter chaos in the shop’s vicinity and a potentially deadly safety hazard on the roads.
Bike renters destined for Rockland Lake must navigate around a completely blind curve just past the McGowan funeral home. An unsuspecting motorist coming a little too quickly around that curve and encountering a large group of cyclists occupying both sides of the road has almost no hope of avoiding a serious, if not deadly, accident. Multiple eyewitness accounts report near disasters at this curve and also at the crossing to the park entrance across Route 9W.
The only rational conclusion that can be made is that the CBS location is ill-suited for renters seeking access to Rockland Lake. The most reasonable solution is for the CBS to relocate the rental operation to a safer location, and commercial space available currently on 9W would be ideal. This seemingly could have been arranged by now if the CBS cared about the safety of its customers or the laws of the town, and if Judge Ugell had the fortitude or wisdom to put safety as the top priority and issue an injunction until a full resolution can be reached.
Instead, the residents and nearby businesses of Congers seemed to be left in a state of limbo dealing deal with a what appears to be a simple case of a business that won’t comply with long-existing town building codes.
As previously stated, in just the last three days alone, the shop has hosted hundreds of rental customers. These customers have to park somewhere and the CBS has nowhere near the capacity needed to accommodate the parking required. Instead, cars line up along Lenox Avenue, partially blocked adjoining streets. The overflow then goes and takes up much, if not all, of the capacity of the parking lot of the adjoining strip mall that houses Dunkin’ Donuts – a business that is in full compliance with the town’s codes.
All of the businesses in the entire strip mall occupied by the Dunkin’ Donuts are now being financially affected by the code violation of the bicycle shop and by the flagrant behaviors of its customers.
Has Judge Ugell asked himself on what legal basis he considers this situation to be right or just?
There is a residential neighborhood along Lenox Avenue which runs immediately adjacent to the Congers Bicycle Shop. Citizens have been blocked from proper access to their homes due to the dozens of cars clustered on this small and narrow street. While parking one’s car on a street is legal, how does Judge Ugell justify this inconvenience to the residents when the parking is occurring because of what appears to be a lack of compliance of a business which in addition to violating the law is unable to provide proper customer parking at its own place of operation?
Residents have noticed that the patrons of the CBS seem further not to understand that Lenox Avenue can be exited by proceeding in the same direction as entry. Cars and mini-vans are performing tight and dangerous K-turn maneuvers with residents wondering how, in the event of an illness or fire, emergency vehicles would be able to properly access their homes.
One needs to ask a simple question – Is this dangerous situation being created by a business owner who is actively and knowingly breaking the law? Has this shop owner expanded a business improperly to meet a new demand with high potential profit that was not foreseen when the Town of Clarkstown codes that apply to his business were established?
As of this date we note that on Thursday of this week, the Clarkstown Police Department has place ‘Temporary Police Order’ NO PARKING signs along the stretch of Lenox Avenue that had been previously rendered semi-impassable. Additionally, the town appears to be trying to move the court case out of the Clarkstown Town Court under the ineffective jurisdiction of Judge Ugell and into the New York Supreme Court. This action apparently includes a request that a ‘Temporary Restraining Order’ be issued to the Congers Bike Shop that it cease and desist conducting an illegal business enterprise until a decision is rendered by the proper judicial authority. If granted, such a restraining order will give the Clarkstown Police Department arresting authority in the event that the illegal rental business continues in violation while awaiting adjudication by the NYS Court.