Monsey, NY – Standing in the shadow of a 197 acre property that has pitted developers against the local government for years, Rockland County Executive Ed Day drew a proverbial line in the sand, signing an executive order that would prevent county departments from granting permits to developers that are not in compliance with Rockland’s General Municipal Law.
Day made his announcement at the Hillcrest Fire station, just yards from the Patrick Farm development, a site that its owners hope to turn into 479 homes.
Opponents to the project have protested both the project’s density and its location, situated near a natural gas pipeline and on wetlands that provide water to Rockland and Bergen counties.
The development continues to be the subject of an ongoing legal battle, with the Town of Ramapo approving the development’s plans on multiple occasions despite objections from county planners as reported by The Journal News (http://lohud.us/2qdMdqK).
Day noted that the executive order affected all of Rockland County’s towns from today onwards, but singled out the Town of Ramapo on multiple occasions, slamming town officials for allowing egregious overdevelopment.
Under the new order, towns or villages that do not comply with the county’s recommendations or file an official explanation of why they are ignoring county planners’ objections will find themselves unable to obtain the mandatory permits needed to complete the project.
“Sure, you can build a 479 home development over a crucial fresh water aquifer even though our commissioner of planning says no,” said Day. “But guess what? You will not be able to get water or sewer hook ups for those homes. You will not be able to get addresses. You cannot open your road, you cannot get curb cuts for a driveway unless the town or village explains why they think it is okay to override the county. I say this to you: ‘Good luck with that.’”
Day referenced the guilty verdict handed down to Ramapo’s former supervisor Chris St. Lawrence just days ago, saying he hoped that brighter days were ahead for Ramapo, with no special favors being granted to anyone.
“And in case some folks don’t understand this, I’ll repeat it,” said Day. “Equal treatment for all; special preference for none. And that includes town and village governments also.”
While for years the battle against overdevelopment in Ramapo tended to divide itself along religious lines, in recent years, Orthodox Jews have begun to voice their opposition to unchecked building in the town.
Peter Katz an Orthodox Jew who sued the multiple parties including the Town of Ramapo for allowing a yeshiva serving 75 students and five staff members to open in a single family home on Carlton Lane in Suffern, came to show his support for Day as he signed the executive order.
As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2qIFZCy) Katz contended that the school, located near his home, was unsafe and that its location on a narrow, curving road created a traffic hazard.
Katz, who has already invested $28,000 of his own money in his fight against overdevelopment in Ramapo, applauded Day for taking steps to put an end towards uncontrolled growth on the local level.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Katz told VIN News. “I think that the chutzpah in Ramapo has to end. All we want is to put a little fairness back in Ramapo.”
Briarwood Road resident Minna Greenberg said that she and her neighbors, all Orthodox Jews, have formed a coalition to fight the many yeshivos that have popped up on undersized parcels of land on College Road, just steps from her home.
According to Greenberg, 43 percent of the properties on a one mile stretch of College Road are now either home to yeshivos or owned by yeshivos, and that most are too small to legally house schools. Generous variances are given out freely by the Town of Ramapo, charged Greenberg, with one yeshiva given variances that allowed it to accommodate 250 boys on a one acre parcel of land, instead of a three acre parcel as required by law.
Greenberg thanked Day for his efforts, noting she and her neighbors have already invested considerable sums of money to wage legal battles that should never be taking place.
“We shouldn’t have to be putting in thousands of dollars of our own money to do what the town should be doing,” said Greenberg. “We are on the side of right of law and justice, and we hope that that will be enough to sway the courts.”