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Activists allege gov't corruption in South Blooming Grove, claim ‘unwanted’ projects being ‘pushed through’

News 12 was in Blooming Grove as one of the village’s oldest homes, built in 1775, was suddenly demolished – one week before a public hearing for neighbors to weigh in on plans to turn the property into a kosher deli.

Blaise Gomez

Jul 13, 2022, 9:57 PM

Updated 706 days ago

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Things are changing fast in the tiny village of South Blooming Grove. 
It borders the Town of Palm Tree and has seen an influx of Hassidic residents with new ideas for the village and enough votes to bring in fresh faces on the board. 
On Wednesday, News 12 was there as one of the village’s oldest homes, built in 1775, was suddenly demolished – one week before a public hearing for neighbors to weigh in on plans to turn the property into a kosher deli. 
“At every board meeting, it’s already been decided and they approve it,” said activist Dawn Sulka, president of Citizens United to Protect Our Neighbors. 
Sulka met News 12 near the property on Mangin Road to talk about what she says is going on behind the scenes. 
“Decisions are being made privately," says Sulka.
Two other residents joined her with questions about why the new owner would demolish the historic house before plans are approved. 
They raised concerns about several trailers recently seen for what they say will become a school at a village property formerly owned by Village Mayor George Kalaj. 
Online records show Kalaj sold the property, which sits on 21 acres, to an LLC in March for $4.6 million - 10 times the market value. 
The county has it appraised for just over $464,000, and Kalaj previously told News 12 he still lives in the home but as a renter. 
Sulka says village leaders are reviewing 10 commercial and large residential projects during a water emergency that’s left residents with dirty water or no water for decades. 
News 12 stopped into Village Hall to speak with the mayor or village attorney but was told no one was there. 
Kalaj later emailed back saying to file a FOIL request for information. 
People at the property on Mangin Road told News 12 off camera that police would be called and crews would be arrested if they stepped foot on the property.  
Residents are also concerned about clear-cutting for an alleged housing development on the former Lake Anne property and gave News 12 aerial photos showing its current appearance. 


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