By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO July 26, 2002 Two years ago, Ichud Hatalmadim, LLC took over the former Ideal Bungalow Colony on Route 42 in Monticello. At the time, they promised to clean and fix it up and be good neighbors in the community.
Last year, they came before the Town of Thompson Planning Board with plans for several buildings they wished to erect on the 103-acre parcel, including a shul (synagogue), a miktvah (ritual bath), girls and boys study cabins, and a food store. Except for the food store, the other plans were approved.
However, when the buildings were built, they did not follow the approved plans, according to the Town of Thompson. Buildings were not placed in approved locations, and some were built larger than the plans said. All of this was done without Planning Board approval or Certificates of Occupancy.
On Tuesday, July 9, the Town of Thompson took Ichud to court to get an injunction to prevent the colony from using several of those buildings. Two days later, their request was granted. The only buildings that are allowed to be used were the shul and the miktvah because they received temporary Certificates of Occupancy.
The colony appeared before the Thompson Planning Board on Wednesday, July 24 to discuss a revised site plan. Over 100 people came out for the public hearing on the issue. The room seemed to be evenly divided amongst those for and against the project.
"I am at a loss to explain why the building was put in a different location," remarked Ichuds attorney, John Coppollo of Jacobowitz and Gubits. "[But] it is not in this board's powers to punish us. These plans comply with the law and the zone. You can't deny a building there."
"It is disconcerting and insulting that those people do what they want," Dr. Marc Hudes commented. "We have to live here all year round. This is not acceptable. It is time that the residents stand up and say enough is enough."
"The law should be strictly enforced and followed," stated Florida attorney Sheldon Slatkin. (Slatkin, a former resident of the county, came in specifically for the hearing.) "This is clear disrespect. This is a total disregard for the law. If you allow this, you would be setting a dangerous precedent."
Many speakers came up over a period of an hour and a half to speak out on the issue. There were comments on both sides of the issue.
"We have invested phenomenal sums of money in the colony," colony resident Miriam Deutch said. "We have done a lot of work, and there is more work to be done. We are a not-for-profit venture. We know that we are not above the law. Our actions are the results of ignorance, not arrogance. We are genuinely sorry. Please don't punish our children over this. They shouldn't have to suffer the consequences."
"The colony provides an urgent, needed break, remarked colony resident Goldie Glutton. "We made a mistake, and we are at fault. It is difficult for us to watch our children suffer for our actions."
A videotape was shown to outline the buildings and what they wished to accomplish. After all spoke, the hearing was closed. Planning Board Chair James Lyttle stated that the board would take no action that night. It will be discussed at a future Planning Board meeting.