Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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June 13th, 2014

Is Lamm the devil?

Shalom Lamm has become one of the most hated people in the Village of Bloomingburg. People are fearful that he and his partners want to turn the small Sullivan County municipality into another Kiryas Joel. To some Lamm is literally the devil.

I understand that writing anything about Shalom Lamm becomes toxic and is often twisted. One must choose their words carefully and proceed with caution.

To understand the explosive situation in Bloomingburg, one has to take a step back, take a deep breath, keep an open mind, and realize the concerns and fears on all sides.

If I were living in Bloomingburg – I too would be devastated, upset, and do everything I could to stop my community from changing.

Shalom Lamm appeared on the Sullivan County development scene about a decade ago claiming that he fell in love with Sullivan County after vacationing at many of our famed Catskill Resorts with his parents.
Along with his partners, Lamm began buying up many acres of land in Mamakating, a place he says he found irresistible because of its magnificent landscape.

An avid aviator, in 2007 Lamm also purchased and rehabilitated the Wurtsboro Airport. He has since pumped in over $1millon to save oldest glider airport in the world.

Although everyone is focused on Bloomingburg and his Chestnut Ridge development, Lamm along with his Black Creek Holdings has attempted to develop in other areas of Sullivan County.

Over the years Lamm employed many politically connected people like Sullivan County legislature chairman Scott Samuelson, former Mamakating Supervisor Duane Roe Jr., and Marc Baez who now heads the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development.

Lamm proposed The Falls at Black Creek in Forestburgh, and promoted it as “a world class golf community and country club” on 207 acres.

He also had a dream along with Craig Passante to turn the Holiday Mountain Ski Area into a hotel/waterpark resort complex.

Lamm got involved in Ambit Energy a network marketing low cost energy supplier. As a top salesperson, Lamm got many Sullivan County residents and members of the business community involved in the tier program.

Then of course there is the famous Chestnut Ridge and 7 Peaks developments the Village of Bloomingburg and Town of Mamakating.

People claim Lamm lied about Chestnut Ridge because it was originally proposed as an upscale 125 home development with a gold course. They also do not trust him with his proposal for 7 Peaks.

I first met Shalom Lamm two years ago through an introduction from Sullivan County legislature chairman Scott Samuelson. Samuelson had worked for Lamm on his 7 Peaks project which can be compared to Chapin Estate.

Lamm approached Samuelson about an idea he had to hold concerts at the Wurtsboro Airport, and he suggested he meet with me about promoting and organizing the entertainment venue he was creating.
We met and I agreed to undertake the task. I knew nothing about Lamm, his partner Ken Nakdimen, the airport, or what he had planned for Bloomingburg or anywhere else.

The airport was breathtaking and a great venue to hold a concert. We decided to hold four concerts the first year, but unfortunately because permits were not obtained fast enough – two events were scheduled in a very short period of time.

Lamm insisted at every meeting that he wanted to hire local and involve the community. We went through every requirement needed to obtain approval, and that included volumes of rules and regulations the New York City Department of Health.

The two events went through without a hitch. The first concert featured Air Supply and Jay Black, and the second one featured KC and The Sunshine Band, Martha Wash, and Taylor Dayne.

Throughout the several months I was associated with Lamm I kept hearing scuttlebutt about the Bloomingburg Chestnut Ridge development. I also heard that people would boycott the concerts because of his planned Hasidic development.

People began to warn me about Shalom and his partner Ken and to watch out for them. My dealings with Shalom were nothing but professional and respectful even though we did have several disagreements. His partner Ken is another story, and we will leave it at that.

When the concerts ended so did my association with Lamm. In fact, he did not even go to the second concert, and I hadn’t spoken to him two weeks prior to that.

Advance a year and a half later – Lamm begins to make the news. Lamm begins to privately email me comments about several of my columns and posts on Sullivan County Post.

Andrew Weil simultaneously begins to post cartoons about the situation in Bloomingburg, and we both get accused as being Anti-Semitic.

Lamm’s transactions are exposed with accusation after accusation. The residents of Bloomingburg and Mamakating begin to speak out and accuse him with lying to the people with one wrongdoing after another. Battle lines are drawn.

Political incumbents who allegedly conspired with Lamm and did as he wished were booted out of office. In one quick swoop the slate was wiped clean in last November’s and March elections in Mamakating and Bloomingburg.

In an obvious attempt to win the Village of Bloomingburg’s election, Lamm and his supporters registered people with addresses from homes he purchased all along Main Street. An unbelievable number of people were supposedly living in each dwelling.

These homes appeared to be empty of furniture, clothes, and inhabitants. Voter challenges began. Election fraud was alleged. In walked the FBI. Pictures were taken, documents, and computer files were seized. The FBI investigation continues.

Meanwhile, court challenges to stop the Chestnut Ridge construction proceeds full force with one stop work order after another. Supreme Court Justice Stephan Schick’s decisions were considered fair and balanced. The attorney retained by Mamakating was brilliant in his arguments. Despite all this, the Appellate division decided to overrule Justice Schick’s orders. Lamm continue construction with phase one and two of the Chestnut Ridge project.

Accusations pertaining to the new Bloomingburg sewer plant, alleged political payoffs, and accusations of both elected and former officials benefiting from Lamm’s wheeling and dealings are forever growing.

No one likes developers. They are in it to make money. Often they lie with grandiose plans and big promises to obtain approvals. They will say and do anything to get things their way. Every developer says they want their project to be a good neighbor and assist the community they are building in.

Depending on market conditions and other variables, developers often never deliver what they promise and frequently walk away from their projects. Lamm’s development is different because of the clientele he is appealing to.

Let’s all face it. Whether we like it or not, the Hasidic population is growing by leaps and bounds. They have many children and need places to live. So they have quickly been moving into new housing developments and communities created by developers.

Is there anything wrong with people needing a place to live? Shouldn’t Hasidim be entitled to the same right to live in peace and harmony as we all are? Yes – of course, but “Not in My Back Yard.”

Indeed, what is happening surrounding any Hasidic proposed development is taking the “Not in My Back Yard” argument to new levels and heights. And, do you blame the people?

Why are they so upset? Even those who preach equality, anti discrimination, and human rights – Because Hasidim are viewed as an extreme religious separatist cult. They dress differently. Are not inclusive of others, are considered not good neighbors, have their own schools, shopping, and restaurants, do not socialize with others, and live life differently. On top of all that are concerns that they do not pay taxes and are bleeding public assistance programs.

In fact, a recent report shows that a shocking 93 percent of the people living in Kiryas Joel are receiving Medicaid and other public assistance. That alone should be troublesome to any resident in a proposed municipality that is constructing a Hassidic Development.

Of course, Chestnut Ridge is not a Hassidic Development – they claim it is open for anyone who wants to buy. However, it will be controlled by a homeowner’s association with strict rules and regulations along with private roads, making it difficult for any of us to live there.

During the past several months Lamm invited me to take a private tour with him to see firsthand what he is doing in Bloomingburg. He wanted to know if he was really the monster everyone thinks he is. This week I decided to take him up on his offer. We met on Wednesday at Black Creek offices and soon hopped in his car.

Our first stop was the now famous sewer plant – Lamm showed me the new sewer plant and then pointed to the old one. Then we drove down Main Street and Lamm pointed out all the homes he bought along Main Street and I was shocked there was so many.

We stopped at several homes walked in them including the one he calls home. We drove to the old warehouse opposite the firehouse and went inside. We then toured the stores that are being turned into a dairy restaurant, meat restaurant, and a bakery. He showed me the mikvah, and the lady’s day spa where he wants to build another mikvah. I could not believe my eyes and we didn’t even get to Chestnut Ridge yet.

In Lamm’s mind he is rehabilitating homes and helping the community, but I could clearly see why people who live in Bloomingburg are so terrified and so upset. Their way of life will never be the same. The community and place they called home is changing in a dramatic way.

We are all human beings, and we all have a right to live where we chose. But, one must wonder if the Hasidic people who live on Main Street really wanted to live there in the first place.

Hardworking good people in Bloomingburg are terrified. Everything they worked for seems to be slipping away. The place where they raised and are raising their families is being radically changed. People are being forced out of their homes. Many cannot afford to sell their homes because their property values are sinking. Homes are being appraised tens of thousands of dollars less from a year ago. The school district is in turmoil.

Money is green. People want that green. Buy a few homes at a high price, and then people will flee at a lower price. That is the way it works. That is the way to change a municipality.

The reality is that the lifestyles of the people moving in are different. It is not that Lamm is renting to bad people or criminals. The presence of Hasidim on Main Street is a legal means of busting up a community, and this has nothing to do with any new housing development.

In Lamm’s eyes he does not see or understand what others see and fear. He sees overall economic activity, Job growth with local people working, Beautification with all lawns well kept, no garbage, and flags on every home along with increased tax revenue.

Instead of welcoming his development, he claims newly elected Bloomingburg officials are aggressive in using every regulatory trick to derail his efforts. He calls that “shocking manipulation of municipal process and shameless targeting of one developer.”

Lamm said village officials are trying to pass legislation practically making it impossible to sell, or lease any property in Bloomingburg, or to make any improvements to properties. “They are requiring obscene levels of regulatory control – had to get stamped plans of an oven hood in order to get building permit. Manufacturer said, in 40 years of manufacturing no one has ever demanded stamped plans.”

As the tour of Main Street ended, Lamm took me to the Chestnut Ridge project. As one enters the development a cross is visibly displayed on the outskirts. It is visibly there for hateful reasons and sends the wrong message. It makes one think of a KKK burning in the south.

Chestnut Ridge is not the section 8 type of housing that I expected. I instead found beautiful well designed homes with high quality construction and excellent finishes. The rooms are large and the design is impressive. Without a doubt each home is designed for large families. And yes, there are two sinks.

Chestnut Ridge has the feel of an upscale community. It is not off the tax rolls and it will provide tax revenue to the municipality.

Lamm also showed me the Wastewater Treatment Plant that he completed on time.

After we were done with the controversial part of the tour, I wanted to see 7 Peaks, the development with proposed million dollar homes. I must say that driving through Mamakating is like driving through Westchester. You do not feel like you are in Sullivan County.

The entrance to 7 Peaks will be spectacular. The project will boast forty-nine multi-million dollar homes. It will be built on 653 acres with hundreds of acres of forever green land. The views are breathtaking. The model home is beyond stunning.

Lamm praised the Mamakating Planning and Zoning board as being very thorough and professional to work with. He said they demonstrated “quality leadership.”

To conclude this difficult column, I asked Lamm to speak to the people of Bloomingburg. Here is what he had to say.

“There’s such an opportunity here to set an example of how a model community can operate. I’m manic about working with all people of good-will from every segment of the community to demonstrate with concrete and creative action that love can conquer hate, that brotherhood and sisterhood can conquer fear and ignorance.”

“I hold no grudges ever. I’ll work with anyone who wants to start fresh, no matter what they may have said or written in the past, to create a functional model community of accommodation and cooperation.”

“What keeps me up at night is thinking of ways to bring people together. How can we break the walls of suspicion on all sides – and bring good people together.”

“I have so many ideas I’d like to share with the leaders of Bloomingburg! There are so many creative ways to improve everyone’s lives here. But instead of meeting to use my resources and creativity to lift everyone in the community, we’re met with conspiracies, draconian regulations, scheming and duplicity. Where is the leadership? I’m ready to press the restart button any day to have a fresh start and to together unleash the power of cooperation.”

So I ask – Is Lamm the devil?

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in the Sullivan County Post Join in on the Conversation on Facebook in the group Sullivan County Post


6 comments to Is Lamm the devil?

  • I don’t know the guy, but I do know that the devil likes to present himself as an angel of light.

  • Donna

    Lamm has already proven himself to be a liar. He stood at the Bloomingburg Town Hall and told the world he was a legal voter. He said there was no pool in the garage..
    He sold his project as a Senior development and manipulated an illegal annexation. He calls our local fellow Jews anti – Semitic and self haters and any opposition “idiots”. He’s a cunning, self serving destroyer in a town that has historically for 100 years catered to Jewish folks all summer, every summer and has been delighted to do so. He himself claims to have wonderful memories of OUR town yet uses hate, lies and accusations to change it into another KJ but ultimately it’s for the money. Greed is his disability..yet, It will destroy our village.
    He came and bought our church– a majority of members wanted the historic building kept as a their church as it has served Bloomingburg for 150 years. Calls the Christian symbol on private property a sign of hate.
    Lamm has no right to take a town and change it’s cultural and socio economic status. He says he’s bringing jobs and life to our town yet paints the storefronts black. Then forces down property values for every resident in the township. Hard earned lifetimes and generations of work totally diminished.
    As far as being clean??? The new visitors come every weekend and leave behind mountains of trash for long time residents to look at and smell. Their children are running up and down Main Street instead of using sidewalks.
    Security and surveillance vehicles now patrol our streets?? Why? We have no crime in Bloomingburg. Ultimately good people are being stalked by this man.
    Sullivan County can not afford thousands of freeloaders using HUD, Food Stamps and Medicaid such as the absolute case for Orange and Kiryas Joel.
    Yes, Bill.. He is the Devil and we are mad as Hell for what he has done to our peaceful village.

  • Daniel Wise

    Where do I start? $800,000 for library he said $647,000 at another time. All these taxes he is paying please stop this nonsense. Local people working I did not know Willoughby St Brooklyn was local to Bloomingburg is that off Wildwood Circle? And since I have I heard from a large percentage of people standing on the corner protesting this travesty, I can say that all the people who support Scammy are the people he paid more than enough for their houses they no longer have and they the people making money from the distruction of Bloomingburg. Driving through Westchester give me a break

  • Andrea

    The Answer is YES. Lamm is the devil! Lamm wants to turn B’Burg into KJ West and soak Sullivan County in the same manner KJ is killing Orange County. Go back to LI, Lamm. We dont need you or your visions here. Sullivan and Orange Counties WERE beautiful UNTIL you and your kind decided it was ripe to turn them into shitholes!

  • This is a hostile takeover of an entire village by a highly organized criminal organization. Cuomo, like his father before him is in bed with these criminals. The Satmar Hasidim have no interest in assimilitating and being “Good Neighbors,” with anyone. To see the demographic of this village completely upended has to be seen to be believed. The FBI “Raid” in March was a sham. These criminals were the perpetrators of well over 100 incidents of voter fraud. Over 100 subpoenas were served on the perpetrators and not a single one of these lawbreakers showed up in court to answer for their crimes. As for Lamm, yes, the same criminal that had his daughter and son in law register to vote in Bloomingburg, though they live in Isreal? He was also subpoenaed and he was also a no show. You take umbrage with people who call your piece fluff and accuse you of consorting with the enemy. You probably would be a bit less eager to sing this Carpetbaggers praises if you lived here, or in any of the surrounding villages that he has his hooks in. I’d sell my home in Wurtsboro forthwith, but who’s going to buy it now? Make sure you do a follow up two or three years down the road, after these wonderful folks have overwhelmed the SC Dept Of Social Services with bogus claims for welfare and medical benefits that the rest of us will be footing the bill for. I’ll be anxious to see what you think. And be a little kinder to your neighbors who might not be as willing as you seem to be to roll out the red carpet for this culture of lawbreakers.

  • Why not Google search Lamm and court? Take a look at what he did in another state! Make your own decision on Lamm based on facts!