What part of ‘stop work’ don’t you get?

COPAKE—A bumper crop of violations is growing at Copake Valley Farm.

Anyone who travels Route 22, just south of the Copake hamlet with any regularity may have noticed that three new structures have risen there. And according to Town Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer Edward Ferratto, no building permits have been issued for any of them.
Excavation work continues there as well, also unpermitted.

Salvatore Cascino, 73, a convicted scofflaw who lives in Larchmont, owns 300 acres along the east side of Route 22, a place he calls Copake Valley Farm. For the past 16 years, Mr. Cascino has racked up violations of federal, state and town laws there for illegal dumping, building and excavating without proper permits.

Mr. Cascino was found guilty of both civil and criminal contempt in 2009. And the stop work orders just keep on coming.

Two large concrete block buildings now loom on the Cascino property, one just behind and slightly to the northeast of the now completely illegally rebuilt farm stand, and another one several hundred yards to the north, closer to the composting building, across the road from the southern entrance to the Copake hamlet.

The third illegal structure is a concrete-block garage near the house Mr. Cascino built on a separate adjoining parcel.

The Town of Copake is in the midst of ongoing lawsuits against Mr. Cascino and the parties were last in court in August arguing two contempt cases. Testimony on two orders to show cause why Mr. Cascino should not be held in contempt of court filed by the Town was heard over two days, July 31 and August 8, when Acting State Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Nichols decided to sever the two cases to avoid further conflation of the two issues.

The court proceedings are set to resume next month, when the judge has set aside a week to hear the cases beginning December 9. In the meantime, Mr. Cascino has been busy building, digging and dumping.

Mr. Cascino did get building permits for two 10-foot high concrete retaining walls, but later added another 6 feet in height to one of them without permission.

Mr. Ferratto went to the Cascino property to investigate after becoming aware of the erection of two steel girders between two concrete walls, where Mr. Cascino had told the building inspector he planned to store silage.

While a typical silage bunker would not have necessitated getting a permit, it seemed Mr. Cascino had decided to construct a roof over the bunker, which put the structure in another category requiring engineering reports, drawings and a building permit, Mr. Ferratto said.

Mr. Cascino then proceeded to extend the walls higher by adding row upon row of concrete blocks and octagonal windows. Mr. Ferratto said he eventually did receive some paperwork from Mr. Cascino, but not until most of the building was up.

Though he had no building permit, Mr. Cascino constructed the 55-by-55-foot concrete structure that resembles a fortress more than 20-feet high.

Mr. Ferratto said he has issued a stop work order on that project and is in the process of issuing two more: on the second concrete block structure, which is nearly as large as the first one and also on a concrete block garage Mr. Cascino has constructed near the house. Mr. Ferratto said he has also noticed additional construction on the first concrete block building and will address that as well with another stop-work order.

While his office has become increasingly busy this year with residents seeking permits for improvements and new construction, Mr. Ferratto said Tuesday, he continues to devote time to monitoring and documenting Mr. Cascino’s activities.

Part of the town’s ongoing cases against Mr. Cascino involve showing that Mr. Cascino failed to comply with Judge Nichols’ orders in an earlier contempt case, in which the judge directed Mr. Cascino to remove a steel bridge, a stone wall and the illegal fill he dumped. Mr. Cascino was also required to restore the farm stand to its 2006 condition because he had failed to get a building permit for work done there.

Asked what alternatives the town has now with all the additional unpermitted building and excavation going on, the town’s attorney on Cascino matters, Victor Meyers, told The Columbia Paper Wednesday he is currently gathering facts and photos. No decision has yet been made about what to do.

Town Supervisor Jeff Nayer said when asked about the situation, “It’s ugly.”

Mr. Cascino’s attorney, Brian Gardner did not return a call for comment by press time.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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