Photo Courtesy of Sky View Pictures, Copyright 2002, http://www.rosspilot.com 

Preserve Ramapo is a town-wide coalition of Ramapo citizens from every ethnic, religious, economic and political party affiliation. We began as a grass roots effort to fight the Town's Master Plan for land use which proposed widespread high-density housing throughout Ramapo. Realizing our Town Board was more concerned with catering to developers and special interest groups than in representing the interests of all Ramapo residents, we launched a full-out effort to stop the Town Board from destroying our Town.

Preserving the Future of Ramapo
Ramapo is a beautiful Town that has reached the limit of sustainable growth. It has the same water resources it had a generation ago, the same two-lane highways and the same sewer capacity. Yet the Town Board has a Comprehensive Plan that would significantly down zone much of the unincorporated areas of the Town and add thousands more residents to our already strained infrastructure.
Recently, the Town Supervisor announced changes to the Plan that would limit some of the proposed down zoning. While this is a good first step, these changes do not go nearly far enough to address the concerns of Town residents. The Plan still calls for significantly higher housing density than would be allowed with existing zoning, which our infrastructure cannot handle.  (To view a copy of the Draft Comprehensive Plan go to www.ramapo.org)
We Are Already Growing Too Fast
Between 1990 and 2000 our Town grew by 16 percent, and accounted for 70% of overall Rockland County growth. If we donít do something to control Ramapo's growth, we will grow even faster in this decade. And, as we have reached the limit of sustainable growth, the results of increased growth are painfully clear.
Rockland County has tapped all of its available water resources
Rockland County is completely dependent upon rainfall within the county for its water source.  The main issue is that we do not have the water resources to support the existing population, yet alone the greatly expanded population that would result from implementation of the Ramapo Comprehensive Plan.
This is not a matter of opinion. It is a statement of what is known about water resources. Nothing is on the drawing board that will do much more than gloss over the water shortage. We cannot allow debate about population growth to focus only on the availability of physical space and perceived needs for housing.  Rockland isn't just space-limited. It's resource-limited.
Our roads can barely handle existing traffic
Traffic congestion on Route 59 already is unacceptable. Adding approximately 14,500 additional people in the proposed new multi-family areas along Route 59 in the Monsey area, as the plan proposes, will create gridlock along Route 59 during its busiest periods. (This population projection is after the changes announced to the Plan by the Supervisor.) The same applies to Route 17 traffic in the Sloatsburg area, where current congestion would be worsened by greatly increased population.
Our sewers are overloaded
Our enormously expensive sewers were built largely with federal funds, but we know that there will likely be no federal or state money available to rip up all of our roads and put in new sewer lines. So who would pay for it?  We would, in higher taxes.
How We Stop Down Zoning
Our Town Board has consistently demonstrated they care more about being satisfying a bloc vote than ensuring the quality of life of the vast majority of the residents of our Town.  All of the Town's proposed down zoning is to satisfy this bloc vote that is seeking these changes. This bloc seeks to build multifamily high-density housing that is out of character with the rest of our community.
A referendum to change Town government structure
As our Town politicians have demonstrated they are beholden to a group of bloc voters, we need to take action to ensure the rest of the residents are heard. We can do this by changing the structure of our Town Government. The structure we are seeking to establish is the ward system. Under this system of government, councilmen are elected from local areas rather than the Town at large (our present system). And, to make this system of government more effective, we are seeking to increase the number of councilmen from four to six.
Under this system the Town will be divided into six wards, each of which will contain approximately 1/6 of the Town's population. Each ward will be represented by one Town Board member. This will make possible a more balanced representation of the whole Town on the Town Board and will give you the opportunity to have a Town Board member whose primary concern is the the needs and interests of your own neighborhood. In effect, it will diminish the impact the bloc vote has on our Town Board.
 
Change Town government
More than anyone our Town Supervisor is responsible for the travesty of this Draft Comprehensive Plan. Under the guise of "preserving open space" Mr. St. Lawrence proposes to down zone everything left under Town control and to destroy the quality of life of our Town. His "Plan revisions" and "Open Space" announcements are politically motivated in order to placate the residents of our Town. Make no mistake. The revisions to the Plan still allow for the wholesale down zoning of our Town.
This November we need to make a change. We need to break the stranglehold the Democratic machine has had on our Town for far too long. You can help elect Joseph Brennan as Town Supervisor and Michel Vilson and Herman Friedman as member of the Town Board. Sign up for e-mail news and volunteer to help in the neighborhoods to get out the vote.
Each One of Us Makes a Difference
In the last Town election, only 17,000 out of a possible 53,000 registered voters cast a ballot. This in a Town that has 110,000 residents. And, the bloc vote accounts for only 1/20 of the Town. So why should we continue to let their voice be heard louder than ours?  In the past, the rest of us have been very apathetic voters. We cannot continue to be apathetic. Those who are not registered to vote should make a point of doing so, and those who are registered should make a point of voting. We have no one but ourselves to blame if we don't take part in the political process
As well, we cannot expect that every citizen knows about the down zoning the Town is proposing. We must be diligent in informing friends and neighbors of the negative impact of our Towns' actions. Tell others about our website and encourage them to sign up for e-mail notices of events and meetings.
Volunteers to save our Town are needed
Do you want to a voice in what happens to our Town? If you do, then an hour or two a week is all it takes. We can win. But to do so, we need your help. Please stand up and deliver on what you believe in by volunteering your time. We will soon be announcing a plan to set up neighborhood action groups.
Want to Know More?
The Town has worked so hard to "spin doctor" everything in order to make themselves "look good" it can be hard to know what's the truth. Keep up with news on the website by signing up for e-mail notices when new stories are posted. Click the e-mail button on the home page or send your request to preserveramapo@optonline.net.

 

  In November,  look for our tree on the ballot and

          Vote Preserve Ramapo.