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NY town orders stop to Gaddafi tent on Trump land

By on September 23, 2009

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was having a tent pitched on suburban New York property owned by Donald Trump on Tuesday until local officials stopped the work because it violated regulations, a town attorney said.

Gaddafi, a famously eccentric figure known for pitching a large Bedouin tent on his trips abroad, was scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

The tent was partly erected and satellite dishes were being put in place when a building inspector arrived at the property in Bedford, New York, that belongs to famed real estate developer Trump, said Bedford town attorney Joel Sachs.

Authorities in Bedford, an affluent suburb about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of New York City, learned of Gaddafi’s plans from the U.S. Secret Service, the attorney said.

The building inspector gave a “stop work” order to workers at the scene but they did not speak English, so he issued the order to a Trump caretaker, Sachs said. It was unclear whether the work had stopped, Sachs said.

Gaddafi last month had plans to erect a tent in suburban New Jersey where the Libyan embassy owns property, but the U.S. government said he could not use the land for that purpose. A request to set up his tent in New York’s Central Park also was turned down.

The tent in Bedford needed various permits that it did not have, Sachs said. “It isn’t like a wedding tent,” he said.

Trump, owner of the 213-acre Seven Springs estate, issued a statement saying it was leased on a short-term basis to Middle Eastern partners “who may or may not have a relationship to Mr. Gaddafi.” He said he was looking into the matter.

Gaddafi has come under criticism over the recent decision by the Scottish government to release a Libyan citizen convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the bombing, was greeted with cheers and celebration upon his return to Libya.

“I don’t think the residents of this town would be comfortable with him here, and I know I wouldn’t be. He has killed Americans,” said Arik Wolf, a rabbi at the Chabad of Bedford in Bedford Hills, when asked earlier in the day.

In Bedford, the roof of a tent and ropes were visible from behind a stone wall in a photograph published on Tuesday by the website of the local newspaper Journal News.

Bedford is a mere 13 miles (20 km) from Chappaqua, where former President Bill Clinton and his wife Secretary of State Hillary Clinton own a home. It also is home to such celebrities as homemaking expert Martha Stewart and to actor Richard Gere and his actress wife Carey Lowell who own a bed and breakfast there.


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