Mayor Clinton Young and his cronies are back at it again. A close friend of Mayor Young was issued a violation and had his illegal club located at 6 N. 3rd Avenue padlocked. Dangerous and hazardous conditions were found to exist at that location.
On August 29th, 2009 at approximately 12:00 The Department of Buildings in conjunction with the Mount Vernon Police Department shut down an illegal nightclub operating just two blocks from The Mount Vernon Police Department and City Hall. It is believed that an individual was arrested in connection with selling alcohol illegally. Advertisements were confiscated advertising a lingerie party. It is unknown if the occupants of the illegal nightclub were of legal age to consume alcoholic beverages.
This is the same time in two days that this illegal establishment was closed down. Just the night before the nightclub was closed down and evacuated. The owner, defiant and believing he was above the law, decided to reopen the next day.
Mount Vernon Exposed obtained a copy of the building violation issued in connection with the illegal nightclub. Violation # 36222 is addressed to Club 914 P.O. Box 325 Mount Vernon, NY 10550.
City of Mount Vernon buildings inspector John B. Alleyne found the following conditions to exist
- · The 2nd floor vacant space has been illegally converted to and is being operated as a nightclub without obtaining a certificate of occupancy for this use. No occupancy sign was posted as required for a place of assembly. Moreover, additional wiring to the main electrical breaker box was installed improperly and without a permit.
- · In addition there was inadequate fire exit signage and fire extinguishers. The fire exit door was dead bolted closed while the nightclub was occupied. It is unknown if the fire sprinkler system, which was installed without a permit, is designed for the correct fire hazard and if it is operational.
- The 2nd floor vacant space shall remain vacated and off limits until the above conditions are corrected. The required work shall not commence until after permits are obtained from this department and a certificate of occupancy issued.
Political and friendly affiliations payoff
The owner of this establishment could not believe that his establishment was closed down. Just the day before, it is alleged that the Mayor made a personal telephone call to Inspector John Alleyne and told him to “leave that location alone.” John Alleyne protecting the interest of the taxpayers performed his duties that he was hired to do, enforce the building and housing code. The first time he closed the establishment down, he issued a verbal warning. Inspector Alleyne was shocked and in disbelief when he noticed the establishment open the following night. He then went armed with a heavy duty chain and padlock. That would insure the facility would remain closed.
That following Monday morning, it is alleged that the owner was in the Mayor’s office seeing if he can bypass “the system” and reopen. To no avail, he did not succeed with his endeavor. The next step was to meet with the building commissioner to begin the process of correcting the violation. The owner quickly learned that he would need site plan approval from the planning board to convert the use to a “catering hall.” 1st Deputy Commissioner Soraya Ben-Habib was keenly aware that the owner was indeed trying to reopen as a nightclub, but was using the classification of nightclub because there is no clear definition in the zoning code between nightclubs and catering hall. Just days before Commissioner Ben-Habib was allegedly subjected to threats and intimidation by several department heads and/or the tenant of this location with regards to the closing of this establishment. Ben-Habib felt so uncomfortable with her encounter with these individuals she reported the incident to Planning Commissioner Jeffrey Williams. It is unclear what corrective action, if any was taken.
On Friday October 16th, 2009, an application was before the City of Mount Vernon Planning Board. The applicant, Galente Enterprises by its architect Francis L. Turner, was requesting site plan review for the conversion from a vacant space previously used as offices and trade school on the 2nd floor to a retail and restaurant on the 2md floor. The proposed conversion results in the off-street parking and loading requirements; therefore, site plan approval is required is required as per §267-13A. The existing building does not have any off-street parking and loading facilities. The conversion generates an increase in the off-street parking requirements of 76 spaces (115 spaces requires for the catering hall-39 spaces required for the previous uses=76 spaces).
As per §267-36 E (1) (e), alternate methods of complying with off –street parking and loading requirements, the Planning Board may allow part or all of the required off-street parking spaces to be located in a municipal parking lot located within 500 feet of the premises, provided the applicant demonstrates to the satisfaction of the approving agency that the municipal facility has available capacity to satisfy the additional requirement.
What played out next was like a scene from your favorite comedy film. This was scheduled for a public hearing, but due to incompetence on the Architect not properly advertising the public hearing, that portion was tabled until the next meeting on November 4th, 2009.
The architect began to go on a ranting tirade, chanting that the Police Department is conspiring to keep the establishment from opening. The architect was behaving in an unscrupulous manner. The Mount Vernon Police Department submitted correspondence in opposition to the application already in front of the Planning Board. They noted that this establishment would have a negative impact of the area, and would put a tremendous strain on already scarce resources. Acting Chairman, Commissioner of Assessment Anthony DeBellis said on the record, that he has never heard in all of his 30 years working for the City of Mount Vernon a statement such as the one submitted.
The architect also made misleading and false statements to the planning board. When he was asked why was the establishment shut down, he caught a sudden case of amnesia. He then went on to state that a catering hall is needed in the middle of downtown. He was also asked was alcohol going to be served at the facility. He did not provide a clear answer. Commissioner then asked the architect, was this establishment going to be operated by the owner/landlord or by a tenant. The architect then told the planning board that it was going to be operated by an entity that is controlled by the landlord. Sensing that the architect was not being completely truthful, Commissioner DeBellis then ordered that all persons who are going to operating this establishment to appear at the meeting on November 4th, 2009 in order for the application to move forward. He also stated on the record that he wanted a fully executed lease between both parties as individuals, not as a corporation. When asked, where is the operator of establishment? The architect replied, “He is out of town”. He was then asked why the establishment was previously issued violations. The architect replied, “I am not really sure”; then he said “for people sitting around without having a permit”. The architects attempt to downplay the violations as minor, did not work with this extremely sharp Planning Board. Planning Administrator, William Long, then read aloud the violations that were issued by the Department of Buildings.
It would then appear that the applicant previously has discussed this application with the Planning Commissioner. The Planning Commissioner only makes recommendations to the planning board and does not sustain voting capabilities. Anyone with common sense could tell that the planning commissioner was trying to sell the planning board that this was indeed good for the city. The planning commissioner was asked on a previous application that was similar in nature, How does this catering hall fit into the comprehensive plan? He could not answer the question and was caught off guard by the extremely sharp citizen inquiring about the application that was submitted.
Allegations of intimidation, extortion, and misconduct
Mount Vernon Exposed has received information from a source usually deemed reliable. Although not verified, it is alleged that officials employed in City Hall have been using their official positions as an intimidation factor with the owner. There is speculation that the tenant has not paid rent in a month and that the made even made a personal call to the landlord asking him to help his friend out. We have been told, although not verified, that the landlord does not want any parts of these individuals, but out of fear he has remained silent.
Findings of Fact
If history is any indication of what is going to happen here, it is in the best interest of the City of Mount Vernon that the planning board denies this application in full. The citizens of Mount Vernon cannot afford to be deprived of already scarce resources. Locations such as the one above mentioned tend to be breeding grounds for violence and illegal activities including but not limited to illegal drug use and consumption of alcohol by minors. The Mayor must not interfere with due process by exhibiting undue influence in order to avoid any signs of impropriety. It is imperative that the planning commissioner understand his capacity in city government. By exerting undue influence there will be an appearance of impropriety and no system of checks and balances. The planning board operates independent of the Mayor and Planning Commissioner. The allegations contained herein are deemed deliberate and warrant further investigation. It is our recommendation that this report be forwarded to the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of investigation as many of the allegations can be classified under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico Act).