The letter is a result of my letter from Oct. 1, "Harlem officials are locked into their own way of seeing things."
As a result of that letter, the city of Harlem - in particular City Manager Jean Dove and city employees Robert Fields and Jerry Campbell - have retaliated.
The city required that we obtain a variance to build a new home while we lived in our trailer (the trailer has been on the property since about 1982). ... The planning commission (who are more intelligent persons than the administration) granted the variance.
After we obtained our permit to build, more problems arose on nearly a daily basis. The more serious came when the city said we had to obtain a soil and erosion control plan because we had harvested approximately two acres of trees. The law the city referred to was the Soil and Erosion Control Act of 1975, and the definition of tree cutting is pretty clear where it allows it for a residential home and tree harvesting.
However, the city chose to interpret the law in a skewed manner, and claimed that we violated the law. The city has tied the tree-cutting to the home-building, but even then it does not apply unless you disturbed the land, and here is where the city chose to interpret the law in a skewed way.
... City officials have dug in their heels because they can. Unfortunately, this matter is more than likely only going to be resolved in the courts, and ... the citizens of Harlem are eventually going to pay the price regardless of who ends up being correct. The city had the option, on numerous occasions, to resolve this matter without any further hardship on both parties. ...
What also concerned me was that we contacted out state representative to inform him of our concerns dealing with a city (Harlem) that was oppressing us by misinterpretation of the law. We found out that same representative (Barry Fleming, 79th District) was the attorney representing the city of Harlem. We questioned if that was ethical. ...
We have tried desperately to reason with the city, but they have decided to take issue because of the previous letter, and it is our contention that they are using their authority to suppress us. One might ask: Why we did not just get the plan done and be finished with it? The answer is simple: I believe in our Constitution, and if we allow any government to suppress those rights then where does that leave us?
I for one am fighting this on principal; unfortunately, the citizens of Harlem are blindly acquiescing their authority to the city without any checks and balances. The result is probably no one will win and the only losers will be the citizens of Harlem who will be left holding the bag in higher taxes because of management being allowed to run loose with their money instead of making good business decisions. ...
This letter is a wake-up call to the citizens of Harlem to ask that they take their city back. We moved to Harlem because we believed its citizens to be caring and concerned, and all we are trying to do is make it a more beautiful place. But the city is doing everything possible to stop us, to the point that they have placed a stop work order on our new home. So citizens of Harlem, be warned: If you do not stand up now, you could be next! ...
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