THE BRONX - Bronx merchants counting on testimony from a local leader were left disappointed after he failed to appear in court for the first hearing on the allegedly undocumented opening of a homeless shelter.

Members of the Westchester Square Merchants Association sued the Department of Homeless Services for allegedly opening a new homeless shelter on Saint Peter's Avenue without informing local residents.

The merchants were expecting the director of Community Board 10 to tell the judge the city opened the shelter for women and children without fair warning.

The city says the shelter was opened with little notice in August due to a housing shortage.

Both sides are due back in court Dec. 15.