Highland board: It’s a matter of public health

By SUSAN WADE
Posted 7/21/20

YULAN, NY — After months of adherence to stay-at-home guidance, bans on large gatherings, social distancing and the wearing of masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, some residents have sounded …

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Highland board: It’s a matter of public health

Posted

YULAN, NY — After months of adherence to stay-at-home guidance, bans on large gatherings, social distancing and the wearing of masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, some residents have sounded the alarm about a suspected lack of adherence to such rules in the Town of Highland, at the Catskill Mountain Resort on Mail Road. The resort does business as 211 Mail Rd. LLC. 

Town officials discussed the situation as part of their regular meeting on Thursday, July 14. (See related story below.)

The board sent out a press release on Friday, July 17 to state “concern for the health and safety of the residents, visitors, property owners and employees of the town which they intended to protect by enforcement of the applicable local and state laws and executive orders issued during the coronavirus pandemic.” (See full statement at www.bit.ly/RRzoningenforcement.)

Overnight camps are banned in NY by executive order and enforcement is left on the local level.

According to the Sullivan County Undersheriff Eric Chaboty, “The executive order isn’t worth the paper it was written on. And the legislature, when it went back into session, could have passed a law where if you don’t wear a mask or socially distance it could be considered disorderly conduct. But it didn’t, and the governor says that it’s up to local law enforcement to step up to enforce a law that doesn’t exist on the books.”

Neighbors allege that trailers have been set up in the rear of the property to provide sleeping accommodations for about 100 girls. The facility has a special-use permit to operate a family resort bar/lounge/restaurant but has no permission to operate a camp, whether it is a day camp or overnight camp. Such trailers require a variance that the establishment does not have.

In checking on complaints, the Department of Health was denied access to the property on two occasions.

According to one of the financial backers of the resort, Larry Rosner, in a Living in Barryville Facebook page post, “There is no camp, just a group of Orthodox Jewish girls staying at the hotel.” He attributed the zoning scrutiny being prompted by an anti-Semitic attitude. He complained that the teenaged girls at the resort were being harrassed and were scared for their safety.   

The town board called an emergency meeting for Saturday, July 18. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Chaboty joined the meeting. 

After 90 minutes of deliberation in executive session, the board issued this statement: “The town board is concerned with current operations of the Catskill Mountain Resort. The town has initiated the process of the Code Enforcement Officer to process code violations to be served Monday morning. The town authorizes the town attorney to review the operations and complaints of 211 Mail Road and deliver any other code violations or law violations further.”

Following the town board statement, supervisor Jeff Haas read the following statement received from an official from the NYS Department of Health’s Monticello office: “This department is actively and currently moving forward with issuing enforcement action towards this facility. This is based on the facility having no permit to operate a temporary residence but was observed to be operating and occupied during my inspection on July 14, 2020. This office would like to move forward with additional enforcement actions. These are currently under review by the legal department in Albany. I will let you know when further action will be taken and when the other enforcement action has been approved.”

This article will be updated online as additional information is released.

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