By Jano Tantongco
The La Misión food pantry opened its doors in downtown Huntington on Tuesday to both hungry patrons and town code enforcement officers.
The officers warned Pastor Enrique Carbajal, who was on site at the pantry to distribute food, of the town’s move to issue notices of violation for unapproved signage, litter and for operating without a certificate of occupancy.
The warnings come in addition to a summons issued last week to property owner and developer Dominick Mavellia, who has been in the midst of back-and-forth with the town and local residents over his plans for the property. He previously wanted to build an 8,000-square-foot urgent care facility, but needed town board approval for a zone change and never got it.
Still, Carbajal kept a positive attitude, saying the pantry is “doing great.”
“Anyone can come in and take some food,” including fresh vegetables, dry goods, bread and soup, he added. The pantry plans to open each Tuesday, 12 noon -1 p.m., catering to anyone who stops by the 8 E Main St. building, which is painted in bright colors of red, green, blue and yellow.
In order to continue operations, however, Mavellia may be tasked with going before town officials for approval.
While town spokesman A.J. Carter said there are no provisions in town code that regulate color schemes for buildings, he added that Mavellia must begin the process of filing a site plan within two weeks to be approved by the town planning board and possibly avoid further summonses for other alleged violations.
Mavellia said the town has been “harassing us for no reason.”
He previously operated a nonprofit art education center, the Spirit of Huntington, out of the building for five years without intervention by the town, he said.
“Now we’re operating a church and filling a need in the community to feed the poor and the less fortunate,” Mavellia said, adding that the initiative is a “beautiful thing.”