OP-ED BY TOM DEPRISCO
Much has been written recently regarding fears that Orangetown residents have involving the potential for overdevelopment which has been occurring for years in Ramapo. Residents are concerned with the ever-increasing growth in the ultra orthodox jewish communities within Ramapo and how this population explosion could affect Orangetown. These concerns have led to two proposals: incorporating into a village the hamlet of Pearl River and merging the towns of Orangetown and Clarkstown creating a City of South Rockland. Both proposals require additional information and thorough discussion in order to make an informed decision.
My concerns involve preserving the quality of character and space that I enjoy in Orangetown.
I relocated to Orangetown from Brooklyn thirteen years ago. I chose to purchase a house on a third of an acre lot as opposed to living in a house on a 25’ x 100’ lot. I now live in a town with a population density of 2,042 people per square mile instead of in Brooklyn that has a population density of 35,369 people per square mile. I enjoy being able to travel with relative ease throughout Orangetown and many areas within Rockland County. I have appreciated how the Orangetown Town Board has maintained a sustainable rate of growth of housing units. There must be available houses or apartments to purchase or rent if a family or individual wishes to move to Orangetown. We cannot allow our zoning laws to be ignored enabling overdevelopment as is occurring in Ramapo.
U.S. Census data reveals a much higher than average population growth of 25 – 50% over the past fifteen years in several areas of Ramapo. This has led to population densities 4 – 13 times greater than that of Orangetown. In order to put this into perspective, imagine moving a similar-sized population of Kaser (5,131) into an area of Blauvelt that is also 0.17 square miles containing 52 homes bounded by Convent Road (south), Swannekin Road (east), Cobble Place (north), and Quaspec Road (west) or into an area of Pearl River that is also 0.17 square miles containing 91 homes bounded by Phillips Lane (south), Quake Lane (east), Orangeburg Road (north), and Mountainview Avenue (west) or into an area of Tappan that is also 0.17 square miles containing 62 homes bounded by Muroney Avenue (south), Route 340 (east), Oaktree Road (north), and Red Oak Drive/White Oak Road (west). While the large population densities may be acceptable in areas within Ramapo, this would certainly not be the lifestyle that I moved to Orangetown for. The exception would be the scenic riverfront Village of Nyack where residents enjoy the proximity to the Hudson River.
My sole concern, and the concerns of many others, is the preservation of the essence and small town feel of our communities. Citizens and elected representatives must diligently continue to ensure all applicable zoning, building, and fire safety laws are strictly adhered to. These sentiments should not be construed as being anti-semitic; they should be regarded as a determination by proud Orangetown residents to maintain the established quality of lives which have been enjoyed.