September 23, 2009 / 9:46 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Gaddafi's tent is dismantled in New York suburb

(Updates throughout with tent coming down)

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Workers on Wednesday dismantled a tent that had been pitched in suburban Bedford, New York, for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi amid threats of criminal action by local authorities.

Officials in the affluent town, about 30 miles (50 km) north of New York City, had ordered the tent be taken down because it violated building and zoning law, authorities said.

The tent had been put up on land owned by developer Donald Trump. Gaddafi, a famously eccentric figure, is known for pitching a large Bedouin tent on his trips abroad.

It was the Libyan leader’s third attempt to have a tent set up in the New York area for his stay.

“The tent is coming down, and he’s not staying here tonight,” said Donna Greene, spokeswoman for the Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano. Bedford is located in Westchester County.

“That’s subject to change,” she added. “You just never know what’s going on with this guy.”

The 213-acre (86-hectare) estate is owned by Seven Springs LLC, part of the Trump Organization. Trump said the land had been leased on a short-term basis to Middle Eastern partners.

“We have requested that the tenant occupying the property in Bedford, New York remove the tent that was erected. They have complied with this request,” the Trump Organization said in a statement on Wednesday. “Additionally, Mr. Gaddafi will not be going to the property.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Gaddafi delivered a rambling 94-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly that touched on everything from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to swine flu and denounced the powers of the U.N. Security Council, which he said should be called the “Terror Council.”

Gaddafi last month had plans to erect a tent in suburban New Jersey where the Libyan Embassy owns property, but the U.S. government blocked those plans. A request to set up his tent in New York’s Central Park was also turned down.

Bedford building officials issued a “stop work” order to a property caretaker on Tuesday and had threatened civil or criminal action if the tent was not dismantled, said Bedford town attorney Joel Sachs.

Gaddafi’s plans for using the tent were never made clear. He was believed to have stayed at Libya’s U.N. mission in New York City on Tuesday night.

Gaddafi has come under criticism for giving a celebratory reception to Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, and recently freed from prison by Scottish authorities.

Bedford is home to such celebrities as homemaking expert Martha Stewart and fashion designer Ralph Lauren. It is 13 miles (20 km) from Chappaqua, where former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton own a home.

Trump once hoped to build a golf course on the Seven Springs estate but ran into local opposition. More recently he has proposed building mansions on the land. (Editing by Todd Eastham)

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