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APNewsBreak: NJ mayor in court to keep Gadhafi out

A northern New Jersey mayor said he's going to court Friday to stop renovation work at the mansion where Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi wants to stay next month when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly.
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A northern New Jersey mayor said he's going to court Friday to stop renovation work at the mansion where Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi wants to stay next month when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly."If the U.S. State Department won't shut this down, we will," Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes said. "New Jersey's governor, its two U.S. senators and its U.S. congressmen are all on board on this."Libyan intelligence is widely believed to have orchestrated the 1988 attack on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed all 259 aboard _ including 38 people from New Jersey.Gadhafi has worked to try to rehabilitate his image in recent years but angered the U.S. and Britain last week with the warm welcome given to the Lockerbie bomber, who was released from a Scottish prison and returned to Libya. A cheering crowd at the Tripoli airport greeted Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was accompanied by Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam. Scotland released al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds because he is dying of cancer.Already, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, U.S. senators and representatives from New York and New Jersey have protested Gadhafi's plan to stay at the sprawling estate in the upscale community of about 12 miles from Manhattan when he addresses the UN next month. Gadhafi is expected to pitch a ceremonial Bedouin-style tent on the grounds for entertainment purposes, after a request to erect it in Manhattan's Central Park was rejected due to logistics and security concerns, according to officials."I support what Mayor Wildes is trying to do," said Kara Weipz, of Mount Laurel, N.J., whose 20-year-old brother Richard Monetti was on board Pan Am Flight 103. "The one thing we do not want is Gadhafi in New Jersey."The Libyan government, which bought the Englewood estate in 1982, is renovating the property extensively in anticipation of Gadhafi's first visit to the United States. It's expected to be the culmination of a yearslong effort to repair his international image, which has included denouncing terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. He's ruled the oil-rich North African kingdom since 1969.But the New York metropolitan area suffered a heavy toll in the Pan Am attack and remains hostile to Gadhafi. The 97 residents of New York and New Jersey killed on the plane represent more than half the 189 Americans who died.U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, whose district includes Englewood, has promised there will be "hell to pay" if the U.S. State Department lets Gadhafi stay there.Wildes said mansion workers have violated numerous city ordinances with their renovations to the 5-acre estate.The city sought to slow the renovation in an Aug. 24 stop work order, which allowed the imposition of $2,000-a-day fines. The Libyans have ignored the order. The injunction will allow Wildes to send Englewood police onto the property to halt work in the city of 28,000.Englewood plans to request an injunction Friday at 3 p.m. from Bergen County Superior Court Judge Robert Contillo. Wildes said he expects a decision from Contillo in the next few days."The governor supports the mayor's efforts and has repeatedly said that Gadhafi is not welcome in New Jersey," said Robert Corrales, a spokesman for Corzine.New Jersey's development permitting procedures can be complex. According to the stop work order, the Libyans may need grading, drainage and site plans and permits for tree removal and soil movement. They may also need a stream encroachment permit to install a boulder wall around the estate's pond. The order said a certificate of occupancy will not be issued until those issues are addressed.The four U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey, all Democrats, said they will introduce a resolution condemning al-Megrahi's release and his welcome home to Libya.Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey described the welcome as "sick.""To see such a celebration for a murderer was a shocking insult to decency," Lautenberg said.Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said the Libyan government should apologize."The victims' families have had no peace since the day this evil act occurred and now their wounds have been reopened," Schumer said.Ahmed Gebreel, a spokesman for the Libyan Mission to the United Nations, was unavailable for comment. Nicole DiCocco, spokeswoman for the Libyan Embassy in Washington, D.C., declined to comment.