Conflicts over a small backyard tree house cost the village a lot


Babylon Village taxpayers have gone out into the financial hands to pay more than $ 50,000 in legal costs associated with backyard tree houses that are useless to build and cannot be enjoyed on their own.

Village officials and John Lepper are at odds with the legality of the tree house, as officials said they needed a permit to build an 86-square-foot building he built in May 2018. And Lepper paid a fine. He appealed the overturned decision based on a technical flaw in the way the subpoena was written.

According to records obtained at the request of the Information Disclosure Act, village lawyer Gerardgrass spent over 182 hours on Babylon for $ 300 per hour from December 1, 2018 to January 16, 2020, 300 per hour. I billed in dollars. Fee. The fee is separate from the fixed retention fee that the village pays $ 75,000 a year to Glass for about 20 hours of work each month to handle problems in other villages.

Glass defended a cost of $ 54,749 to help the village deal with the proceedings filed by Lepper.

“Mr. Lepper and his lawyer have triggered the proceedings,” Mr. Glass said. “The village has no choice but to defend these proceedings to uphold the rule of law.”

One of Lepper’s lawyers, Corey Morris of Melville, called the bill a “tragedy.”

“It’s totally wrong for my father to carefully build the village of Babylon to spend more than $ 125,000 on taxpayers’ money to keep children in the lower grades away from the tree house,” Morris said.

Since 2018, Lepper has filed two proceedings and a notice of allegations.

December 6, 2018, Lepper filed a federal proceeding, Accused several village officials for “punishing” him and “violated personal hostility” [Lepper’s] On December 8, Glass, in accordance with the invoice, charged the village for three hours to review the proceedings and investigate other tree house cases nationwide. Between December 1st and December 31st, 2018, Glass billed the village for 24 hours and 50 minutes, for a total of $ 7,450.

Anthony Spota, 86, who has lived in the village since 1977, said he wouldn’t mind a tree house if it was safe and within the village’s regulations.

“Of course, I want to keep legal costs as low as possible,” Spota said. “The village has to pay legal costs.”

While the proceedings remain pending in the federal proceedings, Lepper filed a proceeding in Riverhead’s Suffolk County Supreme Court on January 22, 2019, over a FOIL request for information on other tree houses in the village. A judge in the State Supreme Court denied the request. Lepper and his lawyer have appealed and are awaiting a decision from the Department of Appeals.

Between January 9, 2019 and June 27, 2019, between 72 hours and 25 minutes, the village received a $ 21,725 ​​invoice from Glass. Meanwhile, the village received invoices for various cases related to Lepper’s case, including calling village officials, Newsday reporters, and attending Lepper’s statements, according to the invoice.

According to the invoice, between June 28, 2019 and January 16, 2020, the village received an invoice of $ 25,475. The village has not received an invoice since January 16th.

March 10 Lepper has filed a $ 2 million complaint against the villageAlleged that “violations of civil rights and illegal activities” by officials resulted in loss of emotional integrity, loss of dignity, and the stigma of being named a criminal. The case remains in federal court, but the tree house does no work and is not fined.

Mayor Ralph Scordino asked for comment but did not respond.

Billable time

December 1st-December 31st, 2018: $ 7,450

January 9-June 27, 2019: $ 21,824

June 28-September 30, 2019: $ 9,425

October 1st-January 16th, 2020: $ 16,050

Source: Babylon Village

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