Mount Haven sale alarms residents

Aug 10 2016 | 02:51 AM

By Anya Tikka
— Residents have been buzzing on social media about the sale of the Mount Haven Resort in Dingman Township, saying they're worried about safety at the site and land uses not "in the best interest of the community.”
The resort, including the hotel, was sold in May to three separate entities, according to tax records. All the addresses all go back to the same owners in Lakewood, N.J. Three limited liability companies — Har Haven, Haven Delight and Blue Log LLCs — own parts of the resort, and all list the same Lakewood addresses.
SCHI, or School for Kids with Hidden intelligence, is a school for children with special needs. The FBI raided SCHI in June as a result of an investigation into funding. Similar schools in Ramapo, N.J., and Kiryas Joel in Orange County, N.Y., have seen similar raids.
Kevin Holian of Dingman resident, a retired Internal Revenue Service employee whose last job was insuring the physical security and preparedness of personnel, questioned why the new owners of the property, now renamed Har Haven, have not been cited for violations. He said the premises are being used without the permits for this type of establishment in place.
Dingman Supervisors chair Thomas Mincer, an attorney, has recused himself from speaking about the sale or voting on any issue related to the property in order to avoid a conflict of interest, according to Dingman Township Clerk/Treasurer Karen Kleist.
The Dingman Supervisors Board of Supervisors — Mincer, Kerry Welsh, and Dennis Brink — issued a press release on Aug. 8, when a scheduled zoning board meeting was canceled, claiming "no items in the agenda." Kleist said meeting schedules are put in place in the beginning of the year. The cancelation was routine, she said, adding that the zoning board, no business to discuss, hasn't met for months.
Kleist said the sale itself it beyond the township's purview.
“The Township doesn’t control the sale of any property," she said. "It cannot. The property was sold under the existing license that covers certain uses, and we’re talking currently to the new owners about what the use will be. According to what we find, new zoning may have to be applied for.”

What's already permitted

The current permit allows a resort and hotel and all the activities that go along with them, including renting rooms for a night or few nights, special functions, and outings. Schools or other permanent continuous residences would not comply with the permits that went with the sale, Kleist said.
Holian says he'd obtained a citation, issued by the State Department of Agriculture, related to the use of a kitchen on the premises. But Kleist said this has nothing to do with the township, since such citations are the purview of the state.
Holian said his two main concerns are that the public is safe and that Har Haven is complying with all local regulations. He believe the kitchen violation is a transgression that Dingman can and should do something about.
Holian letter to the Courier, published last week, said there are “growing community concerns about the tax, public safety, and even water contamination possibilities or issues from this ownership change.”
In a May 18, 2016, Facebook posting, the old owners of the resort, the Filone family, said they’ve paid millions in taxes over the years and “taken pride in being part of our customers’ most special moments. Whether it was holidays, weddings, proms, funerals or providing comfort during times of sadness, we were always honored to be there.”
They also assured everyone that, if the establishment were ever sold, it would take Mount Haven and the community “in a direction for the better.”
Holian questioned how Har Haven will take the community in a better direction. He said Mount Haven is now referred to by the SCHI Lakewood site as, “Camp SCHI."
Despite complaints by locals about harassment of females, police say they cannot get involved unless there are serious crimes like rape or worse, despite of community complaints, according to Holian.
A phone call to Mincer's law office for comment on behalf of the Mount Haven buyers was not returned by press time.

Related stories

"FBI carries out raids in Ramapo, Kiryas Joel":
"Setting the record straight on Mount Haven sale": (see also page 12)