Court Temporarily Nixes Controversial Ramapo Land Development Project

BY JOEL GROSSBARTH

The controversial land development project at the corner of Routes 202 and 306 in unincorporated Ramapo known as Patrick Farm was dealt a huge setback based upon a determination from an appeals court in Brooklyn. The owners of the land, Scenic Development, LLC, seek to build 470-plus housing units on 206 acres along the Route 202/306 corridor. Since, its proposal, the project has been the source of years of prolonged and vicious litigation.

This week, the Appellate Division, Second Department, annulled a determination by the Town of Ramapo Planning Board that granted Scenic Development subdivision and site plan approvals. In Matter of Bodin, the appeals court found that the Town of Ramapo Planning Board failed to adequately consider the presence of wetlands on the subject property, failed to properly apply section 376-42(A) of the Code of the Town of Ramapo (dealing with lot acreage deductions for wetlands), and failed to require the creation of a homeowners’ association to manage common areas of the development as a condition of site plan and subdivision approvals.

Additionally, in a companion case, it was alleged that the Planning Board also failed to order a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement as required by New York State Law. It was also claimed the Planning Board never obtained a jurisdictional determination from the United States Army Corps of Engineers validating the delineation of wetlands on the subject property. Petitioners argued that, prior to issuing the determinations challenged on appeal; the Planning Board was presented with critical new evidence demonstrating that no jurisdictional determination had been issued by the Army Corps of Engineers which was a requirement based upon the presence of federal wetlands.

The appellate court instructed the Rockland Supreme Court to grant the Petition filed by the resident-Petitioners and remit the matter back to the Planning Board for a proper determination. To date, the Town of Ramapo has approved the project, in varying forms on three separate occasions. Any further examination by the Planning Board will likely lead to yet another approval.

In other Patrick Farmr news, Rockland County announced this week that the owners of the property owe $265,000 in county and town property taxes from January and another $200,000 to the East Ramapo school district as of Sept. 1.

The new tax delinquency covers 10 months. County Executive Ed Day said he’s told County Attorney Thomas Humbach to “take whatever legal action is available to collect taxes owed on the property.”

Patrick Farm is owned by Scenic Development LLC, which is the possession of long-time builder Yechiel Lebovits and his family.