By Jano Tantongco
Despite several summonses issued by the town, a Huntington village food pantry continues to operate at an historic, and controversial, site, according to the property owner.
Huntington Town Spokesman A.J. Carter said Monday that he was told by Huntington’s Public Safety Department that La Misión had ceased operations at the southeast corner of Park Avenue and Main Street, where the historic Platt’s Tavern once stood, after the town issued summonses earlier this year.
However, property owner Dominic Mavellia said Wednesday that isn’t the case.
“We feel that we’re federally protected under the law. We’re not in violation of any town code,” said Mavellia, who is scheduled to appear in district court Aug. 16 to answer summonses issued by the town. “It’s an innocuous use. It’s not bothering anybody, we’re just feeding the needy.”
Carter said public safety officials plan to visit the pantry Tuesday to determine if it is still operating.
The day the pantry opened in April, a code enforcement officer visited the site to warn operator Pastor Enrique Carbajal that the town had issued notices of violation for unapproved signage, litter and operating without a certificate of occupancy. This came after the town already issued summonses for signage the week before.
Carter previously said Mavellia would have to file a site plan within two weeks to avoid further summonses.
Mavellia looked to the Spirit of Huntington Art Center, a charity for children with special needs and veterans, that was hosted at the site for about seven years before it expanded and moved to Huntington Station. He said that set an as-of-right precedent to allow such uses on the site.
“The town had no problem with signage on that building,” Mavellia said, adding that he received a town proclamation from officials lauding that use of the property.
Mavellia added that he hopes La Misión will soon host Sunday mass at the site.
Calls to a phone number Pastor Enrique Carbajal went unanswered on Wednesday.