William J. Bailey wins Court ordered injunction against Libya
The Record, Hackensack, NJ
September 1, 2009
Libyan estate’s revamp on hold
Partial halt ordered where some feared Gadhafi would stay
Author: KIBRET MARKOS, STAFF WRITER
A judge on Monday ordered a partial halt to construction at an Englewood estate where extensive renovations had led to speculation that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was planning to stay there if he attends a United Nations meeting next month.
U.S. State Department officials said last week that Gadhafi will not be pitching a Bedouin tent at the property in Englewood, an announcement that many local and state officials welcomed after an uproar against the Libyan leader’s possible visit.
The city of Englewood, meanwhile, filed papers late last week asking a judge to put a stop to the construction at the house, saying proper construction permits were not obtained.
Superior Court Assignment Judge Peter E. Doyne allowed the contractor to continue interior renovations, but ordered a stop to other construction, including the replacement of a driveway.
The judge also ordered city officials to clarify a stop-work order they had issued and explain exactly what they want the contractor to comply with before work can resume.
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes said he was pleased with the decision.
“The bottom line is that this tent is not coming to the city of Englewood,” he said.
Joseph Elhilow, an attorney representing the Libyan mission, which has owned the house since 1982, said that the contractor, Quattro Construction, received the stop-work order last Thursday and that it stopped construction the next day.
“Our position is that we never violated the stop-work order,” said Rosaria Suriano, an attorney representing Quattro Construction.
Englewood City Attorney William Bailey argued that all construction must stop until all permits have been obtained.
“It violates the pre-approval requirement of the law,” he said. “This rewards the negligent contractor by letting them build whatever they want.”
Doyne, however, said he will not stop the entire construction, and permitted interior work to continue. He also allowed the contractor to continue planting trees on the property.
Attorneys from both sides are scheduled for a Sept. 18 hearing before Doyne in Hackensack.
Elhilow said the construction at the house has had nothing to do with Gadhafi’s possible visit to New York City for a United Nations General Assembly meeting.
“Not to my knowledge, no,” he said, stressing that U.S. State Department officials have already said the Libyan leader will not be staying in Englewood.
Wildes, however, said he didn’t want the house to be ready for use in case Libyan officials change their minds down the road. He also said the legal battle is still a lot less expensive than the $20,000 a day that the city would have had to pay for security had Gadhafi stayed there.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an unhappy next-door neighbor to the Libyan mission, went further, saying that he hoped Monday’s decision would be one step toward “letting the Libyans know that they need to clear out of Englewood.”
“I am always the mission’s neighbor,” he said. “If one of my kids hits a baseball over the fence, the ball is going to Libya.”