Adult Student Housing Project--Grandview Avenue (Sept. 2006)


Overdevelopment and Downzoning

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[The most recent stories are on the home page]


Sloatsburg in the

A table itemizes 14 major developments within a 3.5 mile radius of Sloatsburg.
These projects will bring 14,000+ new residents and an increase in traffic by
about 7,000 new cars on the road. The newcomers will draw down local water
resources by an additional 1 to 1.5 million gallons per day. Check the table for
locations and sizes of the new building here.  


Suffern board unlikely to reduce project's height

October 6, 2008 "It appears unlikely the village board will accept its planners' recommendation
to reduce the height of condominiums to four stories in a proposed urban renewal project. Four
votes on the village board are needed to overcome the Planning Board's opinion, and as of last
week that majority was in place. Only Trustee John Meehan supported the planners' recommendation
for the Orange Avenue project. "I felt the Planning Board came up with a fairly decent compromise,"
Meehan said. "The people didn't like the idea of six stories, they didn't like the density."
available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo considers yeshiva impact

Oct. 17, 2008  "The town Planning Board on Nov. 5 will review potential environmental
impacts of a proposed new yeshiva near Pomona that would replace one that has operated
illegally in a single-family house. The Bobover Yeshiva of Monsey proposes a three-floor building
for up to 250 students. The yeshiva continues to operate in a single-family house at 609 Route 306,
despite being cited for violations of town and state building codes since opening a year ago.'The
expected growth to 250 students,' wrote John Lange of Frederick P. Clark Associates, 'presents a
relatively dense development which is out of character with the surrounding neighborhood.'"
available only in Journal News archives]

Pomona legal fees to fight rabbinical college
could be $1,000 an hour (Aug 4)

Early on in the process, Paul Savad, attorney for Tartikov rabbinical college,
threatened Pomona with the "deep pockets" of his client. When the developer,
who has a real estate concern in Brooklyn, refused to submit an application to the
village and went straight to the courts to file a lawsuit, the strategy emerged. This
is RLUIPA as battering ram not a defense against religious bias. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

New Hempstead country club to be sold in December (Aug 3)

The 165-acre tract will be sold to S&G Golden Estates. The Journal reporter points
out that S&G member Alan Gestetner is also president of Cole Development Corp.,
which is to build about 60 condominiums as part of Spring Valley's urban renewal. A
year ago, the mayor was assured the golf club would remain a golf club, now the
future of the enormous site is uncertain. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Freeze development in western Ramapo (Aug 3)

In a Community View piece in The Journal News a Sloatsburg resident warns of
the threat to the watershed in western Ramapo from more than a dozen planned
developments. She also notes the shell game being played by the Ramapo
Supervisor and his Board concerning the small-parcel purchases made as open space
while handing over permits for large-parcel, high-density building to developers.
[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo adult student housing plan revised with fewer units (July 30)
St. Lawrence's second Adult Student Housing project
back before planning board next week

 Small concessions made by the planner try to address the traffic problems this
project will create, but there's no mention of the other two environmental crises.
Taxpayers are facing a $50million repair bill for a sewer system unable to handle
the current capacities, and United Water is still shopping around looking for new
resources because they cannot supply the needs of the numbers already living
here--there's no mention of either. And Route 306 still has other major projects
lined up, including a large school and an enormous "college." [Story available only
in Journal News archives]

Two angry letters: Demise of Rte. 306 and Tuxedo endangers water

Writing about the Pomona rabbinical "college," one reader writes: "Everyone
should carefully examine their current tax bill to see what this tax loss and
simultaneous population surge will mean: a shrinking tax base, increased
government spending, a decaying infrastructure and a firmly entrenched political
machine. These are the ingredients of a slow death of our town and

Another letter writer comments on water resources in Sloatsburg--she explains:
Using pure Sloatsburg water taken from the aquifer and returning treated sewage
is not a deal!" Both letters here.

State reverses policy, will give Rockland
an air monitor (June 2)

"I think it's something we need," Carmelo Greco said. "There's been a
tremendous increase in traffic. ... Also our villages, whether they are river
villages or inland villages, we need the air monitor because as we develop,
there's less and less green space." He said an increasing population was also
bringing an increase in the number of people suffering from asthma and
other respiratory ailments. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Journal News editors look at growth in Monsey
(a six-fold increase) (May 3)

Zoning enforcers in Ramapo often employ strange legal strategies. For example,
if there are too many violations, and they are politically inconvenient—well,
don’t continue burrowing your head in the sand, just change the law to make
the violations legal. Of course, you may end up with bigger problems down the
road, but for that, you can tally the increase in the bloc vote and go back into
the sand bucket. And the actual math: What’s 1,500 single-family lots downzoned
by St. Lawrence’s Master Plan to three-family lots (that’s 4,500 families in the
same space), times three again with last week’s three accessory-apartment
downzoning (that’s 9,000 families on 1,500 single-family lots). Six times the
density since St. Lawrence has taken control of the growth. The Journal News
editors also think it's a bad idea. [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

Journal News coverage of St. Lawrence's
giveaway in Monsey (April 30, 2007)
(Doubling zoning to 6 families per lot)

"Bruce Levine, a county legislator from Ramapo wrote to the Board:
'I'm opposed to it, and I believe it's dangerous for the children who live there,'
Levine said of the increased density. 'I'm Orthodox, and I'm not for creating
slums for my own people.' Levine suggested in his letter that profit for
developers was more of a motive for the apartments than affordable housing."
[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Monsey's Lake Suzanne turns into litter-strewn eyesore (April 14, 2007)

Last August, the Lake was cleared of garbage and debris by Americorps
volunteers, but little has changed as the Journal News Watcher visited
this past week. "The shoreline was littered - that could be an understatement
in some spots - with plastic bottles, cups, scraps of wood and broken bits of
toys. Where the lake narrows into a nearly silt-filled channel were several rusted
shopping carts, and an assortment of auto parts, including tires and a muffler."
[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo Wal-Mart proposal to be reviewed
(April 10, 2007)

"As many as 10,500 cars could travel to the proposed Wal-Mart on Sundays and
8,000 on other days, Brian Ketcham, a traffic engineer representing the
Neighborhood Retail Alliance, told an audience packed into Spring Valley's Village
Hall in October." The builder, National Realty and Development Corp. of Purchase,
doesn't see a problem, for Route 59 or the side roads everyone will be seeking
out to avoid the gridlock. The traffic and other environmental issues will be
discussed in a meeting tomorrow morning. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Zone change denied for high-density project on Highview Road (April 13, 2007)

"In reviewing the proposed active-adult community, the Planning Board
determined that information about the potential traffic was incomplete,
according to the memo, and that 'traffic conditions on Carlton Road will be
detrimentally impacted by the project. In addition, 'it was unclear how sewage
generated from the project will impact existing problems in the county Sewer
District No. 1.' " [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Federal trail could mark Revolution's route
through Lower Hudson Valley (April 5, 2007)

"The National Park Service released the congressionally authorized study and
environmental assessment of a trail running through Rockland and Westchester
counties that might soon be created to commemorate the pivotal battle of
the American Revolution."

[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Rocklanders must act to save lifestyle (April 4)

In this letter to the Journal News the problem is summed up in a sentence:
"Today in Rockland our infrastructure, our ecology, our environment, indeed, the
very essence of our suburban lifestyle, is being attacked by uncaring developers,
greedy utilities and unconcerned politicians"--the solution in a word: "vote."
Read the full text here.

Eminent domain take-over to cost Spring Valley
One-half million more (March 21, 2007)

"Seven property owners are claiming the village did not pay fair-market value
for the properties, all on Main Street." 
[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Zoning and address changes are too much (March 19, 2007)

Letter writer to the Journal expresses his frustration. They have now come to
take the number off his house. What he needs to recall is that he is not in the
hopeless position of just sitting and "waiting for the sewers to start overflowing
and the water shortages to start appearing." Since they cannot take the
vote away from him, in the fall, he needs to return the favor by removing their
nameplates on the office doors at Ramapo Town Hall. Letter here.

Property taxes at town, school level plague Rocklanders (March 17, 2007)

"In the last six years taxes in school districts other than North Rockland, have
 increased 40 percent to 60 percent. In the same time frame, town taxes have
 expanded: Ramapo up 56 percent, Clarkstown up 66 percent, Orangetown up
 60 percent." Read Irv Feiner's approach to a solution here.

Ramapo investigates tax-exempt status for
rabbinical college site in Pomona (March 17, 2007)

"An IRS representative wrote in a March 8 letter that Congregation Kahal
Minchas Chinuch, which formed the Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov,
is not recognized as a tax-exempt organization. The letter's information
conflicted with what he had received from the organization, Town Assessor
Scott Shedler said."

[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo must curb overdevelopment (March 13, 2007)

In a Community View piece in The Journal News, writer Peter Katz comments
on the proposed 132-unit active adult project on Highview Ave.: "
The adult
student housing that has already been approved for the adjacent 11-acre parcel
bordered by Highview, Carlton and east of Pine roads has a potential for housing
close to 1,000 "adult students" and their families in approximately 160 units. The
132-unit active-adult project proposed for the west side of Pine Road will house
approximately another 264 residents in 132 commercial units. The neighborhood
potentially faces a population density of about 1,200 residents and their obvious
cars, sewage and water resource requirements in an area of less than a square
mile. That's about the same density as you'd expect to see in a high-rise zone
in the middle of New York City." Read the full text here.

Ramapo planners nix housing plan, Town Board to weigh in (March 8, 2007)

The Ramapo planning board voted against a proposed development consisting
of 61 townhouses and 70 condominiums on property where current zoning
allows about 14 houses to be built. The application will be presented next
to the Town Board. Residents presented objections about increased traffic
and inadequate sewers.

[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Suffern residents assail housing plan (March 6, 2007)

"Flooding topped the list of worries of a dozen people who spoke against a 25
house project off Memorial Drive, followed by traffic on neighborhood streets and
the current assault of fumes from the New York State Thruway."
[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo residents pan housing plan
(Feb 21, 2007)

Ramapo Town Hall was filled with residents who came to protest the Highview
Road plan for 131 townhouses and condos, which would be on 11 acres right
next to an Adult Student Housing site. The ASH site is immediately to the east of
Pine road and to the North of Highview road, bounded by the South Side of
Carlton Road. This ASH site was set up along with three others by
Christopher St. Lawrence and his board after they cut a deal in response to
a threatened RLUIPA suit. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo has hearing on 132-unit active-adult
development (Feb 18, 2007)

"A proposed 132-unit active-adult development off Highview and Carlton roads
will be the subject of a public hearing before the town Planning Board on
Tuesday." This project is within the immediate vicinity of another Adult
Student Housing site (already approved by St. Lawrence and his board).
More details on the exact location of the ASH site later this week.

[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo under attack with zoning plans at
the worst time (Feb. 10, 2007

Bob Rhodes, Chairman of Preserve Ramapo, explains where we are right now.
With growth out of control in Ramapo, there are major failures of infrastructure,
urban-scale religious projects, and a Supervisor and Board looking after the
special interests of those intent on creating a megaburb. Read the complete
text of his Community View from The Journal News here, and then email the
piece to your friends or tell them to visit

Sloatsburg to get yeshiva and housing plan (Feb 9, 2007)
"A preliminary plan was presented Jan. 17 to the village's Community Design
Review Committee, which helps applicants prepare their projects for the Planning
Board. Michael Zarin (village attorney) described the plan as a 'very rough sketch,'
without details such as the numbers of students and teachers." The plan is for a
yeshiva with housing for students and faculty off Eagle Valley Road on a 47acre
site that runs parallel to Post Road, just west of Route 17."  [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Pomona residents come out to voice opposition to rabbinical college plan
(Jan 23, 2007)

The Village meeting was supposed to be about a few small changes to a zoning
law addressing dormitories, but the evening began with Paul Savad, attorney for
the rabbinical “college” project, telling The Journal News before the meeting,
“His client was determined to build what it wanted, and that federal legislation
gave it that right.” The lawyer’s opening remarks after the pledge of allegiance
was followed by a two-hour procession of residents who refused to be distracted
by the zoning change discussion. They were there to voice their unified opposition
to the 5,000-person residence Savad’s group wants to build in their village. Finally,
the board did vote unanimously to enact the version of the law posted on their
website ( [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Pomona college planner tried Staten Island (Jan 21, 2007)

Kolel Beth Yechiel Mechil of Tartikov, the group planning to build a 5,000
resident "college" in Pomona, proposed a large project on Staten Island in the
1990s to provide housing for Hasidic residents of Brooklyn. After that failed, they
reappeared in Ramapo as a college planning group. The Journal reporter has found
that the presiding officer of the college, Chaim Babad, is connected to a real
estate company, Babad Management on 57th Street in Brooklyn. The group also
emerged as one of New York City's top lobby interest groups shortly after
purchasing the land for its Staten Island project, funneling $45,000 to the people
who could influence city planners. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Pomona zone change may block dorm plans (Jan 17, 2007)

At the next Pomona village board meeting, the question of the size of dorms
will be discussed as a continuance of a proposed zoning change from the
last meeting. It might have a direct effect on the 100-acre proposed "college"
at 306 and 202. If you plan to attend this important meeting, you
can read the zoning laws on the agenda at
The meeting is 7:30 pm Monday at Village Hall, 50 Camp Hill Road.
[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Rabbinical College could change way of life in Pomona (Jan 14, 2007)

"The community where streets remain unlighted in deference to the
country atmosphere soon may become home to what some residents see
as a mini-city threatening their way of life."

[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Pomona resident doesn't want to make way for rabbinical college (Jan 14, 2007)

"Paul Savad, a Nanuet attorney for the Congregational Rabbinical College
of Tartikov in Brooklyn, said last week that six to 10 homes had been bought
to increase the site's frontage on Route 306" in addition to the 100 acres on
which residences for 4,500 will be built. Eloise Litman is not answering the
phone calls from the developer trying to add her home to the complex.
[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Pomona to get rabbinical college plan (Jan 12, 2007)

The story, "Pomona to get rabbinical college plan," includes remarks from the
developer's attorney, Paul Savad of Nanuet. He objects to our description of
the site as a dormitory city. Yet the housing for 4,500 does follow the St.
Lawrence formula of 90% residential and only 10% educational in the town's
permitted adult student housing projects. You can see the site plans and read our
original story here. [Story available only in Journal News archives]



Spring Valley considers zoning law changes (Dec 19, 2006)

The Spring Valley Board of Trustees will consider upping the size of houses from
the current 30% of the lot area to 55%. Supervisor St. Lawrence and his board have
already increased the size ratio to an obscene 90% in parts of Hillcrest. [Story available only in Journal News archives]








People and Politicians Protest Wal-Mart in Monsey (Dec 4)

"The development would be on the 22-acre site of the former Rockland Drive-In Theater.
The 215,000-square-foot store would have: a supermarket, a gas station, a tire and lube service area and nearly 1,000 parking
 spots." Route 59 at this point already has a failing grade on federal standards,  besides the many economic issues the new store would impact.
[Story available only in Journal News archives]


Time to put an end to piracy by developers (Dec 15)

A reader's letter to the Journal insists "It is finally time to show that the
zoning laws are precisely that, laws. Those who violate [should] pay
the penalty, not reap the benefit of their transgressions." Full text here.





State adds 575 acres to Sterling Forest (Nov 28)

"Environmentalists working to preserve the property surrounded by the
park praised the purchase and said it would help protect key watershed,
habitat and recreation areas in the fast-growing Lower Hudson Valley."

[Story available only in Journal News archives]

Airmont residents find their lots are on wetlands (Nov 14)

Kicking off a round of "It's not my fault," the Airmont Village Engineer,
Building Inspector, and Chairman of the Planning Board look in different
directions as the residents of a very pricey development are accused of
destroying wetlands, which never appeared on maps shown to them. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

We're Number What!?

Just as Hallmark gave us Mother's Day, we can thank the real estate industry for Money magazine's annual ranking of towns. Ramapo dropped in the ratings this year, but some question even a rating of number 49. A writer from Suffern offers 10 objections beginning with, "How can this be when our taxes are the 6th highest in the country?" Rosemary Scandura's list here.

Nike base ASH Yeshiva Update (Nov 7)

"Ramapo Justice Samuel Colman yesterday adjourned the town's case against a yeshiva developer charged with running a pre-school out of
a trailer, responding to protests by the defense that it received an abridged version of the town code." A new trial date was set for
December 4. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Legal issues persist for Nike base ASH Yeshiva (Nov 6)

"The town is set to go to trial against the developer of a yeshiva with adult student housing on charges of running a preschool out of a trailer
after settlement discussions broke down." Also to be determined is the additional $20,000 owed on the building permit fees and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services' order to shut down the preschool. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Edwin Gould Foundation (Lakeside) update (Nov 1)

Chestnut Ridge Mayor Jerry Kobre brings residents up to date on the plans of the developer who has purchased the Edwin Gould property. Somerset Development is at the beginning stages of planning what it wants to do with the 156 acres on Route 45. The Mayor's remarks were sent out in the Village newsletter and can be read here.

Hillside delayed in court (Oct 6)

 The proposed 13-building complex on Hillside Avenue in Airmont is still on hold in U.S. District Court. The project, which could house
1,300 students/residents of the Congregation Mischknois Lavier Yakov, is actually subject to three suits: one looking to vacate the decision that permitted the project to be sent to the planning board, another that claims the Planning Board meeting that declared itself as lead agency was an illegal meeting, and a third claiming violation of the Sunshine Law when Mayor Layne, Deputy Mayor Spampinato, and Ned Kugel (no longer on the board) voted to settle a threatened suit by letting the project bypass the zoning board and its regulations. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Development in Monsey--Two letters (Sept 15)

In a letter to the Journal titled Just too much for Monsey, Ephraim Yurowitz writes, "I moved to Monsey in 1976, a relative newcomer as compared to the Erickson family, and have watched in horror as our once beautiful neighborhood has been transformed into a junior 'Brooklyn.' The houses being built on Route 306 were and should still be deemed illegal."

In a second letter, Abraham Stauber, director of the Ramapo Jewish Chamber of Commerce, itemizes a long list of reasons why we should Just say no to Wal-Mart in Monsey. His reasons run from traffic and safety to the fact that Wal-Mart profits are sent out of the community back to Bentonville, AR. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Journal News editorial: Keep Lime Kiln acres as open space (Sept 13)

"We urge those trying to rescue almost 21 acres of sensitive East Ramapo school district land to move quickly, with Rockland help if
necessary. It is vital that overgrowth in Ramapo not be extended to this section of Wesley Hills, especially on property that contains wetlands." [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

A red sandstone colonial and 27 green fairways (Aug 31)

Two very different paths were taken this week as the Village of New Hempstead accepted an agreement protecting 145 acres of the
old Empire Country Club (later Spring Rock CC), and the Cropsey family sold their historic 18th Century farm to Clarkstown and the
County. More.

State needs better controls over towns (Aug 29)

"Recent history in Ramapo has demonstrated that when a town board is determined to destroy all restrictions on land use and wishes to ignore the environmental consequences, it can do so with impunity. This is due to a simple fact: Private parties cannot afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars required to challenge even a single bad decision by a town, planning or zoning board." Robert Rhodes, Chairman of Preserve Ramapo, offers a solution with three proposed state laws that would release the stranglehold towns have over growth and zoning. Read his letter here.

School board delays land-sale discussion

(August 23) The president of the East Ramapo School Board, Nathan Rothschild, shelved a discussion of the sale of 20.7 acres of Lime
Kiln school property until September. The single bidder (American Investment Group of Brooklyn) offered $7.3 million for the woods on
the school grounds. They say they would require a change in zoning from one home per 50,000 sq. ft. to one home per 20,000 sq. ft. for
a total of 40 homes on the site. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Rescue East Ramapo land (Aug 20)

A Journal News editorial asks the East Ramapo Board to offer a referendum vote on the possible sale of 20.7 acres on the Lime
Kiln School lot. The writer points to the growth in the area. "The Route 306 corridor is already threatened with too much growth.
Monsey proper is extending in strong housing density north toward Route 202, and Ramapo's new master plan ill-advisedly provides
for housing density on the old John Patrick farm property near Route 202. Will any new housing on Lime Kiln Road, just off Route 306,
be an incentive to connect the dots and build a virtual linear city of housing along Route 306, from Route 59 in Monsey to Route 202 in Ladentown? How could the already threatened water supply and sewer system support that?" [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

New Hempstead development plan worries neighbors (Aug 20)

Sol Menche of Monsey is planning to build a two-story, 34,336-square-foot girls' school, with three adjacent dormitory buildings, on 12.94 acres of wooded land on McNamara Road, on the border of New Hempstead and Wesley Hills. The County Department of Plannning is on record as being opposed to the waiving of special permit standards. A public hearing will he held on August 31. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Go home Wal-Mart (Aug 18)

The politicians are lining up, the hired activists from both sides have made  appearances on behalf and against, and the showdown is headed to the Ramapo Town Board. The planned Wal-Mart for the old Drive-In site in Monsey will be  twice the size of the Airmont Wal-Mart. Besides the economic upheaval, the impact on traffic in an already failing corridor (Route 59 in Monsey) is almost unthinkable. [Story available only in Journal News archives]


The 20 acres on Lime Kiln site

School Board opens bids for Lime Kiln property--Only one offer from Brooklyn developer (Aug 17)

There was only one bid submitted to the East Ramapo School Board for the 20+ acres of woods on the Lime Kiln School grounds. A
Brooklyn-based developer bid $7.35m for the property. The Board must now decide whether  it will go ahead with the sale, and those opposing have 30 days to collect signatures for a referendum on the sale, if they decide to launch a legal  protest. The Board will discuss its options at the next board meeting--Wed night, Aug 23 at 7:30. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Indecision (July 27)

Airmont, July 27 The Village of Airmont Planning Board met last night to consider the environmental impact of a proposed school at 4 South Monsey Road near Monsey Heights Road. The school, Yeshiva Karlin Stolin, will be built on a residential lot of less than two acres, and it will house 200 students. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

From #2 to 49th--What the heck happened? (July 18)

Two years ago we were celebrating Ramapo as "Money magazine's second-most desirable place to live of towns in the East with populations of more than 100,000" (JN-6/21/2004). This year, in the same publication, we're listed 49th in the country. Sure, they changed the list from a regional one to national, but if last time we were 2 in the East that would make us no worse than 8th in the country (NSEW) then, and now we have dropped to 49th. And if you visit the Money mag site, you might notice we are categorized as a best "small city." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Two letters on the stealth zoning changes (July 3)

Two residents unload on the Ramapo Town Board and Supervisor St. Lawrence for the latest downzoning efforts from the same group that gave us Adult Student Housing projects that will change our neighborhoods forever. [Letters available only in Journal News archives]

March toward urbanization (June 30)

The Journal News offers a strong condemnation of the zoning changes sneaked through by the Ramapo Board and Supervisor. "Irresponsible is the only word suitable for Ramapo's ill-advised move to amend its zoning code expressly to foster density. It ignores the future of all Rockland, not just the town's, in not addressing water, traffic, drainage and sewering issues. It will regret this force march of urbanization onto a suburban landscape." [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

Monsey Wal-Mart developer asked to do economic study (June 18)

"National Realty & Development Corp. of Purchase, which wants to build a 215,000-square-foot store at the 22-acre site, will have to provide the town with a social and economic analysis of the store's impact on Spring Valley and Monsey." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo Planning Board to adopt environmental statement on Wal-Mart (June 11)

The draft outline would require National Realty to complete a more comprehensive traffic study, as well as take into account community character, storm-water management, parking and air quality. The draft, prepared by the developer and John Lange, the town's planning consultant, also asks the developer to study 12 major intersections along Route 59 and how additional traffic would affect surrounding businesses. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Monsey residents worry about Route 306 development (June 8)

"Howard Josephs, president of Blueberry Commons LLC, is proposing five multi-family apartment buildings on 10 acres near Route 306 and Kearsing Parkway. Josephs said the Blueberry Commons development would have four three-story buildings and one four-story building and that a pond on the site would be expanded to decrease downstream water runoff by 20 percent in the flood-prone area." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

New Hempstead may extend building moratorium (May 23)

"The moratorium was established in June and was already extended for three months. It affects lots larger than 6 acres that would be subdivided into more than three lots. That means if a parcel is 6.1 acres or larger, a property owner or developer could subdivide it into only two lots until the moratorium expires." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Builders, public analyze Sloatsburg's master plan (Oct 10)

The board meeting in Sloatsburg (Oct 10) considered elements of the village's master plan. There were questions about traffic, building on a flood plain, and senior housing. A question not addressed was, "Is there a conflict of interest with Michael Klein, attorney for the Town of Ramapo, representing a builder (Mombasha Development Corp.) in this kind of proceeding?" [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Planners must be on site (Oct 2)

Maybe in the best of all possible worlds you might be able to get members of planning boards to follow up on their decisions by going out and monitoring the results of their votes, but in Ramapo--I don't think so. The Journal editorial is worth reading, though, because it does shed light on a basic problem--the disconnect between planning boards and the neighborhoods. There is a simple, partial solution. Residents need to attend these meetings, especially when they are going to have to live with the results of decisions made by board members who are generally accountable to no one. Most people don't even know who is on their village and town planning boards. There's a crying need for sunshine in these meetings. [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

As exemptions grow, religion outweighs regulation (Oct 8)

Part one of the New York Times' series "In God's Name." The article includes a section on zoning and religion. Story here.

School board shelves land sale but leaves its options open (Sept 21)

"The East Ramapo Board of Education voted unanimously last night to reject a controversial bid to buy a wooded parcel belonging to the school district and build housing on it." However, the board cautioned this did not mean "that the board would not solicit bids for the [Lime Kiln school] property." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Unanimous opposition to Lime Kiln property sale (Aug 10)

 At a meeting called by the Concerned Citizens of East Ramapo,  local residents  expressed their unanimous disapproval of the proposed  sale of 20+ acres of the school property by the East Ramapo School Board.  [Story available only in Journal News archives]

School land sale discussion mired in politics (Aug 1)

The 20 acres put out for bid by the East Ramapo School Board has kicked up a storm of protest that's as much about the board as it is about the open space about to be snapped up by developers. See one resident's letter in today's Journal News Community View.

Journal editorial warns against development that produces a "burb-city" (July 26)

The editor provides an outline for smart planning that goes beyond the self-destructive impulse to create vertical density. "Know when to say 'enough' development in a particular area." "Strictly adhere to zoning plans. Do not grant variances at will. One exception becomes two, and then a hundred." All good advice, but what's missing so far are the Town and Village planning and zoning boards with backbone and the good of the community as the primary goal. There are exceptions, but the existence of good boards should be the rule, not the exception. [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

A Pandora's box (July 25)

"The current [SV] code allows for a landowner to build on 30 percent of the lot area. Anything more requires permission from the village's Zoning Board of Appeals. The proposed law would increase the percentage to 55, a figure that Levine says is partly a result of Ramapo increasing its ratio to 90 percent in 2004 for a small section of the town that borders the village.

Yet the ill-advised action by Ramapo is no excuse for increased density in Spring Valley. In some Jersey communities, such as Fair Lawn, where old capes have been rebuilt as three-story edifices, the boroughs are rethinking permission since the result has been a crowded look; blocked views for neighbors; a dwarfing of new construction over existing one- and two-story homes; and worries by fire departments that access is more difficult and dangerous. Existing footprints were designed with certain height requirements. To change that now alters the architectural balance." [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

SV developer revamps proposal (July 22)

"A developer's revamped plan for a portion of the village's downtown will include two four-story condominium complexes and 15 townhouses, eliminating a portion of Center Street." Mayor Darden has no objections. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Aerial view of Lakeside (Edwin Gould)

Edwin Gould property sold to developer (June 29)

"The owner of the former Edwin Gould Academy has agreed to sell the 156-acre property to a Manhattan-based real estate investment company, but village officials said yesterday that no development plans had been filed." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Rescue Gould land (May 26)

"Rockland, running out of water and accumulating too much traffic, drainage woes, density and higher taxes, must save as many of the major land parcels left as possible, and this Chestnut Ridge location is one of them." [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

Managing the density (May 16)

Commenting on the 90-home development in Sloatsburg which resulted from "a forced deal slammed down residents' throats in a baseless lawsuit," the Journal insists the Planning Board must be "prepared to talk traffic, drainage, water, and quality of life." [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

Rockland moves to update master plan (May 14)

"From flooding to traffic, there's no shortage of planning challenges in Rockland. A new effort to address the issues before they become problems is one of the goals of a county comprehensive plan now being developed by the county Legislature." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Vehicle volume keeps climbing on Route 59 (May 13)

"'I find myself driving around feeling I'm in New York City,'" Sandy Stoller, a Suffern area resident for 20 years, said this week of traffic in general in her part of the county."

"Like some other residents, she has built a mental map over the years so she can avoid Route 59. The prospect of new development concerns Stoller, who bemoans the bumper crop of red lights that has sprouted on local streets." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Sale of Edwin Gould Academy on mind of Chestnut Ridge residents  (May 11)

"A lot has changed since the village was incorporated on May 26, 1986 — housing needs in neighboring communities such as Spring Valley and Monsey have led to more development there — but Chestnut Ridge stands apart in eastern Ramapo. With three horse farms, a small business corridor and predominantly single-family residential neighborhoods, the village — formed to protect zoning in the area — still gives off a pristine, country-like vibe.
On the eve of its 20-year anniversary, residents and officials are looking to the future and, more to the point, how the sale of the 156-acre former Edwin Gould Academy will shape it." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Yeshiva developer pleads not guilty in Ramapo court (May 9)

"The developer of a yeshiva with adult student housing pleaded not guilty in Ramapo Town Court to charges of running a preschool out of a trailer on the Grandview Avenue construction site." Trial date is set for July 24. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

What Montebello does affects Suffern (April 30)

  A Journal News editorial says a Montebello building project "requires much deeper review, with neighbor Suffern's input as courtesy, even right. Their concerns are more than valid. The density is way too great. Ecological worries abound. What would Montebello be saying if Suffern proposed this complex ?" [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

Sloatsburg delays development plan (April 24)

"It's our vision to keep Sloatsburg as a semi-rustic area," Mayor Carl Wright said of the westernmost Ramapo village. "We have the right to do it, and we can do it. But to be sure we're on solid legal ground, we want a specialist to help achieve our goal." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Suffern opposes Montebello development (April 21)

 "The site is on the north side of Route 59 and west of Hemion Road. On Route 59, it faces medical offices   under construction next to Good Samaritan Hospital and is adjacent to the Tagaste Monastery." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Wesley Hills to permit larger houses (April 6)

"The Wesley Hills proposal would abolish restricting construction to a ratio between the lot size and the square footage of the building. A larger house would be permitted as long as the construction remained within the "footprint" that maintained required distances between the house and the road, as well as side and rear boundaries. The maximum building height would remain 35 feet, or 2 1/2 stories." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Illegal conversion of houses can pose tremendous risks in fires

(April 2) More than two years ago, Preserve Ramapo made public a letter from a local volunteer firefighter. In it he warned of the hazards of fighting fires in homes with illegal additions, partitioning, and locked areas--all deadly traps both for firefighter and those waiting for rescue. He also explained the potential disaster as traffic has been allowed to grow to unmanageable levels. Now several years later, as the state finally begins to make demands on New Square, and others editorialize about the problem, it's time to do something. The villages, the Town of Ramapo, and the State all need to enforce their own regulations and laws. Read Bob Baird's Sunday column "Illegal conversion of houses can pose tremendous risks in fires" [Column available only in Journal News archives]

School, farm, and cultural center proposed for Chestnut Ridge (March 28)

 Wellspring Living Arts, a nonprofit organization, is interested in purchasing the Edwin Gould Property (Lakeside Academy) in Chestnut Ridge. The proposed plan for use would not include any new building. Instead, the organization would like to renovate the 17 buildings on the site to create a cultural arts center, school, and biodynamic and therapeutic farm. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Airmont open-space group suggests buying 3 properties (March 22)

Presentation by the Airmont Open Space committee at Monday's Board meeting recommended Valentine House on Cherry Lane and two lots on Route 59 for consideration. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Spring Valley Might Acquire Park for $1 (March 20)

"The village board authorized Mayor George Darden last week to complete an application with the state Department of Transportation for the sale of 9 acres of surplus land behind Kennedy Drive. It was the same land that Gov. George Pataki promised to "sell" to then-Mayor Allan Thompson Sr. for $1 before the September 2001 primary." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Montebello Preserves Landmark Farmstead (March 19)

   "A post-Civil War farmstead, savored for its unchanging appearance in a changing world, has been designated a local landmark. At 253 Spook Rock Road, the property includes a main house, barn, carriage house and caretaker's cottage that Ramapo historian Craig Long said were uniquely preserved examples of post-Victorian and gothic revival architectural styles." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Journal News weighs in on Drive-In Property (March 18)

"We hope that if the study is negative, if it is determined that such a large center would be irreversibly detrimental to the quality of life, that it either be scaled down or withdrawn. While Rockland must still grow, it must do so responsibly and much more slowly and carefully. Just because someone owns land in 2006 does not mean that the same opportunities for dense development exist as, say, they did in 1976. Much of the land that is left must not be developed, at least not in density. . .Yet there comes a point when enough is enough, when growth must be limited. Perhaps the ecological study will say that." Read "Adding to Growth Slowly" [Story available only in Journal News archives]

A reasonable plan for senior housing (March 5)

The Journal News editorial page tackles the problem of senior housing. Recently, what has masqueraded as moderate-priced senior housing on 306 in Monsey and the Lorterdan project in Sloatsburg will produce town houses and condos that sell for about a half-million dollars. And worse, these developer boondoggles add so much density "that open space, flood plains, traffic, water, sewering and quality of life are seriously impacted." It's not the whole answer, the editorial looks in the right direction. [Toward Smarter Housing story available only in Journal News archives]

Journal News calls on building inspectors to do their job (Feb 28)

"Government officials all too often wink at illegal housing, contending they do not want to lean on individuals, that they do not have the manpower to inspect, that laws tie their hands, that the courts slap landlords on the wrist. Meanwhile, potentially tragic circumstances develop, such as a warren of rooms that a volunteer firefighter finds himself in. Another door opens in the deep smoke, and flashover fire strikes the volunteer at 1,200 or more degrees." [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

Sloatsburg to unveil master plan (Feb. 27)

"The plan, which is intended to see the community through a decade or more of growth, includes zoning for multifamily housing at two locations off Route 17, as well as a revitalization of the business district along the highway.

Before its adoption by the village board, it will be subject to a public hearing — still to be scheduled — as well as comments from the Rockland Department of Planning, the village's planning and zoning boards, and its comprehensive plan committee." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo growth: too much (Feb 23)

In a Community View in The Journal News, Robert Rhodes (Chairman of Preserve Ramapo) describes how Supervisor St. Lawrence has trapped himself between the forces of uncontrolled growth and a failing infrastructure. St. Lawrence’s new comprehensive plan permits 3 homes in the R15 zone (one-third acre) plus accessory apartments—that’s six households where, before, there was one. [Commentary available only in Journal News archives] 

Ramapo stops yeshiva construction (Feb 8)

"The dozen 900-square-feet homes on the site off Grandview Avenue, a former military housing complex associated with the former Nike missile base in Orangetown, have already been demolished. Piles of debris on the 4.7-acre site cannot be moved and other work there cannot resume until the town gets answers to the asbestos question." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

A building permit has been issued by the Town of Ramapo for construction on the Adult Student Housing site on Grandview Ave. (Jan 15) [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Even though the case against the project is still in court, Ramapo has issued a building permit for Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim and 60 housing units on 4.8 acres of land formerly housing personnel on the Nike base. This is one of four Adult Student Housing (ASH) sites created by Supervisor St. Lawrence and his board that will bring high-density housing to single-family zoned neighborhoods. Read more about ASH and RLUIPA here. Two other ASH sites, Hillside Avenue in Airmont and Patrick Farm are covered in stories on this page. Scroll down for updates and then click on the general articles in the index to the left. For more complete background on the legal issues at the Nike Base--Click here.

Airmont approves 6-month building moratorium (Jan 23)

The Airmont Board of Trustees voted unanimously this evening to establish a temporary building moratorium in the Village. During the six months, no new commercial applications or developments larger than 5 acres will be accepted (this does not include projects already being reviewed by the various boards). The Airmont Master Plan (from Oct. 1995) will be reviewed during the moratorium with possible changes generated by a nine-member Master Plan Committee. The vote for the moratorium was 3-0 (Trustees Dennis Kay, Joseph Meyers, and Anthony Valenti voting). Mayor John Layne and Deputy Spampinato did not attend the meeting.

JN Editorial: A Main Street for Airmont (Jan 20)

"Airmont should take at least six months to weigh the future of Route 59, its "Main Street." That is a small amount of time and should not hurt building prospects, but the pause could begin serious reflection on what the state highway should look like from here on out." [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]


Wesley Hills Development Compromise (Nov 23)

Twelve acres of woods on 306 in Wesley Hills will be the site of a 21-home subdivision according to a compromise reached in state Supreme Court. Developers wanted 100 units of multifamily housing but were denied the change in zoning required. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Journal News Editorial on Edwin Gould Property (Nov 16)

Chestnut Ridge "now has a distinct mostly residential character and is adjacent to similar development in Montvale, N.J. Whatever happens on the Gould land must be in keeping with such growth." [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

Volunteers might get dibs on ramapo housing(Dec 12)

A planned 262-unit housing complex on the old Auntie El's Farm Market site on Route 17 may "give volunteer firefighters and ambulance corps members 'first crack' at buying units, although they will not be discounted." This will only effect volunteers in western Ramapo, and the environmental questions, including increased traffic, remain open. [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Planning panel to scrutinize proposed Airmont yeshiva (Oct 23)

"The plans of Congregation Michknois Lavier Yakov to create a religious community on Hillside Avenue near the New Jersey border will be weighed against residents' concerns that development threatens water supplies and increases dangers of sewage overflows.

At a meeting last week, the board listened to planning consultants, engineers, attorneys and about 20 residents."   [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Updates: Court Decisions related to Hillside Avenue (Oct 14)

Airmont Trustee Joe Meyers recently sent out information about the Hillside litigation. You can read his update about the federal court conference held on the cases in White Plains. One of the lawsuits came out of the RLUIPA legislation.

Airmontg seeks to void yeshiva agreement [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Ramapo Development a danger (October 6)

In a Community View piece in the Journal News, a writer discusses the environmental impact of a development like the Lorterdan project in Sloatsburg. She concludes, "This debate isn't just about losing a gorgeous view or a source of drinking water for millions of people. This is about the heartbreak that comes from watching the last wild places in the region, one of the most populated areas in the nation, being stolen from us. And for what? So a handful of developers can profit?" [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Seeking less density  (Sept 27)

In a strongly worded editorial, The Journal News gave its reasons for opposing  the current 292-home project off Sterling Mine Road. Among the reasons: "Rockland's water supply is already overstressed, and any new development anywhere must be on hold until that is rectified. Second, this area of western Ramapo is to be hit with increased stress from more people, more traffic and a greater drain on all resources because of planned development in the town, in Sloatsburg and in neighboring Tuxedo in Orange County." The piece also explains the "open space" rationalization by Supervisor St. Lawrence and his Board as a weak dodge: "While Ramapo town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence says the Lorterdan development would leave 42 acres untouched, as recommended by the Community Design Review Committee, this is still a large development and the land left alone is mostly wetlands anyway, not suitable for building." The writer concludes: "Not every square inch of Rockland that is left to build upon can or must be developed." [Story available only in Journal News archives]

Midnight Meeting about the Mountain followed by Greenwash the Next Day

The Ramapo Planning Board pushed the item about the mountainside development off to almost midnight. Opponents of the 292-home gated community planned for 249 acres off Sterling Mine Road in the Ramapo Mountains near Sloatsburg stuck it out and spoke against the project until some time after one am. The next day, in another part of Town Hall, 29 officials met to sign a Watershed memorandum that Dennis Schvejda (Advocacy Director of NY/NJ Trail Conference) called “greenwash, empty rhetoric.” We have Dennis’s letter describing the meeting, Ed Goodell’s Comments to the Planning Board, and the Journal article.


[Sterling Ridge Firetower]



Matter of overdevelopment (Aug 5) Letter

"While I understand that there are housing difficulties for many, we all live here in this rural area to avoid the congestion of the city. I think that if the developers did not act piggish and did not attempt to shove another congested, overbuilt, overpopulated area down our throats, we could live with development of the property. It could be done and still maintain the beauty of this town.[Story available only in Journal News archives]

However, the developers insist on variances that would allow them to build 300 one-family units and have used federal law to try and keep us from fighting them in court. How dare the supervisor and his voting bloc make this into a religious issue as a means of getting their way?"  

Building with Permits (July 27) Letter

"The codes regulating building permits are laws, and if they are not being enforced, we need an objective investigation of those controlling and enforcing those codes, as well as those who might have violated them."

Walk the talk, officials (May 12) Editorial

"All Rockland and Bergen officials must act to reduce growth; plan better for the future; manage the water supply; and consider that what is built in, say New City, affects River Edge 27 miles downstream."[Available only in Journal News archives]

Walk the Properties (April 27) Editorial

"When will officials learn to limit development based on ecological concerns?" [Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

Once and future legacy of sprawl (April 10)--Community View

     The Hudson Riverkeeper's view on overdevelopment and its long-range costs.[Editorial available only in Journal News archives]

New Law Misinterpreted (March 19)--Letters

   "Phil Tisi's explanation in the Community View, "The 'dilemma' caused by RLUIPA," is 100 percent factually and legally incorrect." Response written by attorney Doris Ulman. [Letter available only in Journal News archives]