Northeast Ramapo Eyed for High Density Development: Specht’s promise of “responsible growth” out the window

By Kathy Kahn

It’s a case of the cart being put before the horse, said members of Rockland’s  Citizens United to Protect our Neighborhood (CUPON) during a Zoom meeting Monday evening, Jan 18. CUPON was joined by Rockland Organized for Sustainability and a Safe Aquifer (ROSA) and concerned residents in decrying the Town’s plans to move forward with the rezoning of its Northeast corridor without a proper review. That section of Ramapo is home to the former Miniseongo golf course, the Stryker property and other large tracts of land highly coveted by mega-density developers.

Ramapo’s northeast corridor is semi-rural in comparison to the neighboring villages of Monsey, New Square, Kaser and Spring Valley. The Town has previously proposed selling the 75-acre Stryker property in Pomona to a religious group for development. Residents in nearby Skyview Acres have already made it clear they plan to fight that proposal in court should it come to fruition.

Attorney Susan Shapiro told the Zoom group that Supervisor Michael Specht “ran on a platform of responsible growth…. he promised a full review of the town’s land use and comprehensive plan. All those promises have been broken. There’s no pressure for planning in the northeast part of town…this is coming from outside, not from members of the community. The Town has not engaged residents in any way to find out what the community wants.”

Calls for Ramapo to update its comprehensive plan for the entire town-not create piecemeal proposals—is at the forefront. The need for potable water, and protection for   wetlands and wildlife habitats had some residents questioning if there will be enough to go around if high-density housing and deforestation continues to go unchecked. One Zoom attendee opined that Rockland might be forced to consider resurrecting the proposed desalination plant.

Jonathan Lockman, principal environmental planner with Nelson, Pope and Voorhis in Suffern, is drafting a memo to be presented at the Wednesday, January 20 meeting of the Town Board, outlining Shapiro’s talking points. He told the Zoom group that what Ramapo is planning with the northeast corridor is akin to “Amy’s Foods in Goshen starting the SEQR process, and then having people ask where it’s going to be built—and they (Amy’s Kitchen) don’t have any answer.” Lockman feels because the Town is so out of step with the SEQR process, the group should challenge the development of the northeast corridor. “What the town is doing is so inappropriate”, he stated.

Since the Jan 20 meeting will be on Zoom, ROSA, CUPON and others urged people to send written comments to the Town Board. Those who are calling in to Ramapo’s Town Board Zoom meeting were urged to use their three minutes wisely–rather than making comments personal, to focus on environmental concerns and quality of life issues. “If they hear enough, some of them may start to question what they are doing,” said Lockman. That is the hope of residents who have seen several sections of Ramapo bulldozed to make way for thousands of condo units.

Ramapo’s Town Board meeting on the adoption of its Final Scoping Document for the Northeast Corridor Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be held via Zoom on Wednesday evening, January 20, beginning at 7:00PM. Persons interested in speaking at the meeting must email osherovitz@ramapo.org no later than 30 minutes before the start of the meeting.

To join the Zoom meeting or to call in, visit www.ramapo.org and click on the link under “Meetings.”