MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas has been accused of holding up a major project because the developer wouldn’t hire his friend as a consultant, according to a report by lohud.com.
Peter Fine of New York City-based Blue Rio LLC filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday claiming Thomas and city administrators have been harassing him and are enforcing the building code in an unfair and unconstitutional way, the lohud.com report said.
The flap centers around the La Porte project, an apartment and retail complex that Fine had hoped to open at 203 Gramatan Ave. several months ago, lohud.com said.
According to lohud.com, the suit alleges that the mayor and an unnamed adviser met with Fine last March, but when the adviser was later turned down for a consulting job, the city started to issue stop-work orders, bringing work on the La Porte site to a grinding halt.
Such orders are generally issued when inspectors uncover violations of local construction, or zoning, regulations, or when work is being done in an unsafe manner. They can also be used when contractual disagreements arise.
Also named in the suit is Michael Gianatasio, a city safety consultant who conducted the inspections, lohud.com said.
The mayor's spokeswoman denied Fine’s allegations, calling them a “disgusting” attack on Thomas’s character and on city administrators, lohud.com reported.
Blue Rio, besides seeking monetary damages, is asking the court to remove the stop-work orders and to force Mount Vernon to resolve permit applications, lohud.com reported.