Synagogues Looking to Open and Expand in Ramapo

BY EVAN WECHMAN
The morning after the Ramapo Planning Board approved the controversial Patrick Farm project, the Community Design Review Committee (CDRC) met to evaluate which proposals would be coming before the planning board in the new year.  The CDRC, which is headed by Anthony Mallia, director of Building, Planning, and Zoning, meets at least once a month to review applications being submitted to the Planning Board.
Appearing in front of the committee the morning of Wednesday, December 28, 2011 was former Ramapo Assemblyman Ryan Karben. Karben is acting as legal counsel for Congregation Emek Tefillah of Monsey. Karben said, “[My] clients are proposing a local house of worship with a rabbi’s residence on Calvert Drive in Monsey. We appreciate the feedback from the town and its agencies and look forward to presenting our proposal to the planning board in February.”
Karben refused to elaborate on the exact details of the project at 11 Calvert Drive but stated that all necessary materials are “in the file at Town of Ramapo.”
The CDRC recommends changes they feel are necessary before the applicant appears at a meeting of the planning board. According to Mallia, the CDRC helps “prepare them (applicants) for the planning board to make an educated decision.”  Mallia stresses that the CDRC meets with the applicants in an informal manner to go over details that may be of interest to the aforementioned board. However, the CDRC makes no determination as to whether the project is “good or bad” for the town. The planning board, as in the Patrick Farm decision, is free to solicit opinion from the CDRC, but in the end, the board reaches their own verdict.
Another synagogue coming to meet with the CDRC was Congregation Kehilath Yakov Pupa whose proposed site is 7 Suzanne Drive in Monsey. This particular temple seeks to establish a local house of worship on the west side of Suzanne Drive, at the intersection of Leon Drive, right in the heart of Monsey.
The final item on the committee’s agenda concerned a synagogue with an additional dormitory to house its students. The proposed location is 996 Haverstraw Road, also known as Route 202, in Suffern. It is to be named the Sephardic Heritage Center. It is presently a single family home. Alan Berman, town attorney and member of the committee, was concerned in this matter about the congestion on Route 202. Berman claimed that this road is a high traffic area. He is furthermore concerned about the project’s impact on the Mahwah River.
Hence, Mallia told the applicant that they needed to address these concerns. On Tuesdsay afternoon, Mallia also commented to “please remember that having a CDRC meeting does not necessarily mean the project will proceed. Now that the applicant has some information from us he may or may not proceed with the application.”
The CDRC, besides consisting of Mallia and Berman, have three other members; Aaron Troodler, deputy director of Building, Planning, and zoning.  They also make use of town engineer, Ed Moran, and town planner John Lange.