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Transcript of Orphanage Lawsuit
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK -------------------------------------------------------------)( VISION FOR CHILDREN, INC.,
Plaintiff, FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
-against- DEMANDS TRIAL BY JURY
CITY OF KINGSTON, NEW YORK, ANDREW ZWEBEN, DAVID ALLEN and JOSEPH 1:15-cv-164 (BKSIRFT) HAPPENY,
Plaintiff, VISION FOR CHILDREN, INC., by its attorneys, ROBERT N. ISSEKS
and BLOOM & BLOOM, P.C., complaining of the defendants, alleges as follows:
I. The plaintiff, Vision for Children, Inc., is a foreign not-for-profit corporation
with its principal offices located 1176 aide Cameron Lane, Franklin, Tennessee, 37067.
Plaintiffs mission statement reads: "In the name of Jesus, Vision for Children is helping
meet the physical, emotional, spiritual and educational needs of children and young
people, enabling them to change their world around them by breaking the cycle of
darkness and poverty. Vision for Children has been called to rise up to meet this
challenge - changing the future now!"
2. The defendant City of Kingston is a municipality located within the Northern
District of New York.
3. The defendant Andrew Zweben is, upon information and belief, an individual
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residing in the County of Ulster, New York and at all times relevant to this action was
acting as the Corporation Counsel of the City of Kingston.
4. The defendant David Allen is, upon infonnation and belief, an individual
residing in the County of Ulster, New York and at all times relevant to this action was
acting as the Deputy Fire Chief of the City of Kingston Fire Department.
5. Defendant Joseph Happeney is, upon infonnation and belief, an individual
residing in the County of Ulster, New York.
NATURE OF ACTION AND JURISDICTION
6. This is a civil action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, 3613 and 2000cc-2
seeking injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages against the above
named defendants for committing acts or omissions under color of law which deprived
plaintiff of rights secured under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United
States Constitution and under 42 U.S.C. 3604 and 2000cc.
7. Jurisdiction is conferred on this Court by 28 USC 1331 and 1343.
8. This Court's supplemental jurisdiction is also invoked to assert plaintiffs
claims against the defendants of the torts of negligence, trespass and wrongful demolition
under the common law of the State of New York.
9. Each and all of the acts of the defendants Zweben and Allen alleged herein
were done by them under the color and pretense of the statutes, ordinances, regulations,
customs and usages of the State of New York and under the authority of their respective
offices with the City of Kingston.
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10. Each and all of the acts of the defendant Happeny were done by him in concert
with the defendants Zweben, Allen and the City of Kingston (the "City defendants").
STATEMENT OF CLAIMS
11. On May 22, 2014, plaintiff became the owner, through donation, of the real
property known as 72 Garden Street, Kingston, NY; section 56.26, block 7, lot 52. That
property then consisted of a 3-story, 5-unit apartment building, a 3-car garage, a paved
driveway and a 3-car paved parking area.
12. On January 27, 2014, a "Violation Notice and Order to Remedy" (Exhibit A)
was sent by defendant Allen to the then owners of 72 Garden Street, addressed to
Theodore Perlmutter, which stated the following:
According to our records you are the owner of the property located at:
72 Garden St Tax Map No. 56.26-7-52
On 1127/2014 an apparent Zoning/Ordinance Violation was observed on your property, specifically:
Our office received a complaint regarding code violations on your property. Upon inspection it was found the soffits and facias on the front of the house, the right side of the house and the left side of the house must be repaired. Also, the roof on the right side of the house must be repaired and the trim on the entire house must be painted.
You are hereby notified that the above property is in Violation of:
Ordinance Code .304 Exterior Structure 304.8 PM3 Minimum Conditio [sic]
PM304.8 Decorative features. All cornices, belt courses, corbels, terra cotta
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trim, wall facings and similar decorative features shall be maintained in good repair with proper anchorage and in a safe condition.
Ordinance Code 304 Exterior Structure 304.7 PM3 Minimum Conditio [sic]
Which states: PM304.7 Roofs and drainage. The roof and flashing shall be sound, tight and not have defects that admit rain. Roof drainage shall be adequate to prevent dampness or deterioration in the walls or interior portion of the structure. Roof drains, gutters and downspouts shall be maintained in good repair and free from obstructions. Roof water shall not be discharged in a manner that creates a public nuisance.
Ordinance Code 304 Exterior Structure 304.2 PM3 Minimum Conditio [sic]
Which states: PM304.2 Protective treatment. All exterior surfaces, including but not limited to, doors, door and window frames, cornices, porches, trim, balconies, decks and fences shall be maintained in good condition. Exterior wood surfaces, other than decay-resistant woods, shall be protected from the elements and decay by painting or other protective covering or treatment. Peeling, flaking and chipped paint shall be eliminated and surfaces repainted. All siding and masonry joints as well as those between the building envelope and the perimeter of windows, doors and skylights shall be maintained weather resistant and water tight. All metal surfaces subject to rust or corrosion shall be coated to inhibit such rust and corrosion and all surfaces with rust or corrosion shall be stabilized and coated to inhibit future rust and corrosion. Oxidation stains shall be removed from exterior surfaces. Surfaces designed for stabilization by oxidation aFe exempt from this requirement.
It is hereby ordered that you either eliminate the violation(s) or file plans with this office for corrective action by:
A re-inspection will be conducted on the above date. Failure to correct the violation(s) by the date ofre-inspection will result in a $200.00 [sic] for each re-inspection that needs to be done without compliance. All unpaid re-inspection fees shall be assessed to the owner against the property and shall
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be added to the tax bill for said property.
13. In February, 2014, plaintiff, by its Vice-President Kerry Mitras, met with
defendants Allen and Happeney at 72 Garden Street. Mitras told Allen and Happeney
about plaintiffs religious ministry and what plaintiff would like to do with the building if
it was to be donated to plaintiff. Happeney stated that he did not want a group home next
door to his property. Mitras asked Allen what plaintiff would need to secure a permit to
repair the roof and falling gutter and Allen answered that proof of insurances would have
to be provided along with a building permit application and application fee.
14. On March 20, 2014, Mitras inspected the structures at 72 Garden Street with a
commercial contractor, Tom Morris of DC BE Contracting, Inc. in anticipation of the
building being donated to plaintiff.
15. Also on March 20, 2014, DeBE Contracting, Inc. on behalf of plaintiff wrote
a letter to defendant Allen (Exhibit B) which contained the following:
Good morning. This morning I visited the referenced property with Mr. Kerry Mitras. During my visit I was able to walk the building.
The building is in need of repointing of the masonry fa~ade, a new roof and interior demolition of existing ceilings and walls. Plumbing and electrical upgrades are also required. The building structure showed no signs of failure including foundations, floor joists and load bearing walls.
Should you have any other questions please feel free to call me at 6465230271.
16. On March 25, 2014, Mitras called Suzanne Cahill, Planning Director of the
City of Kingston Planning Department, and explained what plaintiff was looking to do
and asked for her advice on submitting an application for a variance. Cahill told Mitras to
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-send her an e-mail explaining plaintiffs ministry and she would get back to Mitras within
a couple of days.
17. On March 27, 2014, plaintiff sent an email to Cahill (Exhibit C) which
contained the following:
This is a follow up on the phone conversation we had earlier.
The owners of the home at 72 Garden St. Marcy and Barry Pennutter, Wish to gift their property to Vision for Children, 501c3 non for profit. VFC wishes to turn the home into "House of Hope, Kingston". HOH is a Christ centered ministry that provides housing and college education to orphans and children forgotten. Our intent is to have this HOH accommodate 8 children and a couple as Directors. The house fonnerly had 5 apartments and was non confonning pre existing. The lot size is 4000 sq. ft. I believe we wil