Har Haven works to improve water quality

Hearing on temporary permit to be scheduled: Recent changes to Pennsylvania requirements will result in the highest-quality water yet at the property, president says

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  • Har Haven just ended its summer camp, which had water trucked in for drinking and cooking (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

Township update

Dingman Township Zoning Officer Chris Wood gave the following update on the township page (dingmantownship.org) on July 17:
The Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for Mount Haven having expired on June 30, 2018 and Har Haven having been so informed on July 3, 2018, the Attorney for Har Haven, Anthony Waldron requested a meeting with the Zoning Officer to discuss the matter.
On July 10, 2018, a meeting was held with Attorney Waldron, representatives of Har Haven, the Township Solicitor, and the Zoning Officer to discuss the expiration of the temporary certificate and the ramifications of such expiration.
While it may seem to some people that Har Haven is getting off easy, the Township is following the law as prescribed by the legislature. The law’s emphasis is not on punishment, but to bring the property into compliance.
I expect Har Haven to work quickly to bring the property into compliance with the law and to be open lawfully before the end of August. However, the matter has entered into the enforcement stage which limits what I may discuss with the public.

By Frances Ruth Harris

— Summer school came to an end at Har Haven as it works to bring its water system up to state requirements.

Nathan Birnhack, president of Har Haven LLC, said the school, located at the former Mount Haven Resort, is working to upgrade the chlorine system to disinfect its water. The property will be in compliance with new state mandates for magnesium and iron levels for the first time ever, he said.

“The DEP asked for additional measures that hadn’t been done before," said Birnhack.

He said Dingman Township will not issue permits until the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Conservation (DEP) gives the green light.

Colleen Conley, community relations coordinator for the DEP's Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre, said the department's Safe Drinking Water Program has not yet received Har Haven's application for a drinking water permit.

"Our staff has been in contact with the owners to advise them of what needs to be done to bring the drinking water up to DEP and EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards," she wrote in an email. "But I can’t get into specifics right now. If the resort does want to provide water to users, as it has indicated, it would need a Safe Drinking Water Permit and would be considered a public water supply."

Dingman Township Zoning Officer Chris Wood said Pennsylvania's drinking water regulations have changed a lot in the last two years. When the permit is eventually issued, he said, the Har Haven water supply would be tested no less than once a month to comply with federal and state regulations.

"While it may seem to some people that Har Haven is getting off easy, the township is following the law as prescribed by the legislature," said Wood. "The law’s emphasis is not on punishment, but to bring the property into compliance."

'On the up and up'Har Haven LLC, based in Lakewood, N.J., purchased the Mount Haven Resort two years ago. The School for Children with Hidden Intelligence, a private school for Orthodox Jewish and other children with special needs that is also based in Lakewood, rented the facility for its six-week summer camp in 2017 and 2018.

At Har Haven last week, many teenaged boys were eagerly discussing a fire truck they looked forward to seeing. In the dining room were approximately 25 teens and adults, including the manager, who did not want to give the Courier his name. He said he was in charge of the children only for the six-week summer camp, which ended Aug. 7.

The camp gives the kids' parents a much-needed break, the manager said. He the Courier to Birnhack.

“Birnhack is working to keep things on the up and up,” said the manager. “I’m here for the children. Politics and name calling have nothing to do with me.”

Water for drinking and cooking were brought in to supply the summer camp, Birnhack said.

They're working to do their part in the community, he said.

"The kids, even with their disabilities, helped clean the Delaware River by joining with community residents," said Birnhack.

Wood posts updates on the Dingman Township web page, where he states that Har Haven gave him photocopies of Pennsylvania Food Service Licenses for 2017 and 2018 (please see sidebar).

Bonnie Mullins, secretary for the Dingman Township Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), said Har Haven on Aug. 1 hand-delivered an appeal to the township’s denial of another temporary certification. She said she is now setting up a ZBA hearing date regarding the appeal, with public notices to go out announcing the hearing. She said it's possible the hearing will be held in September.

Case pending in New JerseyIn the meantime, Rabbi Osher Eisemann, founder of the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence in Lakewood, was accused last year of stealing money from the school. He pleaded not guilty to charges of theft, misapplication of entrusted property, money laundering and misconduct by a corporate official.

He said last August he would step down temporarily from the institution to focus on his case.

Authorities have claimed he misappropriated more than $630,000 in public tuition funds the school received.

Eisemann is accused of stealing about $430,000 in public tuition money for a personal business venture. He also allegedly misappropriated an additional $200,000 in a money laundering scheme.

A new indictment was brought against him in April alleging he stole nearly $1 million.

Editor's note: The original story has be revised to correct the identity of the owner, which is Har Haven LLC, and not the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence. It also clarifies that the school is private and open to all children regardless of religious denomination. The Courier regrets the errors.

This story includes some reporting from the Associated Press.

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