Ramapo resident opposes home-to-school conversion in court

Ramapo resident Peter Katz has filed a legal action against the Town of Ramapo for permitting a residential single family house to be renovated into a temporary school. It is the first time a 2012 town law allowing such arrangements has been challenged in court.

His legal action claims former Chief Building Inspector Anthony Mallia inappropriately issued a temporary building permit for Congregation Yeshiva Zera Yakov to open the school and the Ramapo Board of Appeals was inaccurate in allowing Mallia’s decision to be upheld.

Katz alleges the house was converted to a school without the required special-use permit from the Planning Board and a Public Hearing. Ramapo has been accused of allowing private schools to open in single family houses without planning approval or permits. Ramapo Town Attorney Michael Klein refutes Katz’s claim contending protocols were followed and also said hindrance to the arrangement could open the town to a RLIUPA (religious land use) lawsuit.

In response to ineffective building code enforcement in Ramapo and Spring Valley the state has assigned monitors to oversee these Building Departments. Mallia was arrested on corruption charges by the Rockland County DA’s Office in 2016, one of several Ramapo officials in legal trouble.

Ramapo Fire Inspector Michael Lepori, assistant planner Lawrence Picarello and county planners all submitted testimony opposing the arrangement one Carlton Road. The Tallman Fire Department made its concerns over lack of parking clear, as well.