The plan would have put nearly 500 units on a property once designated for limited development. The court sent the town back to square one.
FROM NEW CITY PATCH – A series of legal decisions handed down Wednesday halt the massive Patrick Farm housing plan opposed by neighbors and many officials as over-development. The decision by a state appellate panel annulled both a Ramapo Town Board zoning change and Ramapo Planning Board approvals for a 470-unit housing complex near routes 202 and 306.
Patrick Farm is one of the last large open undeveloped parcels of land in Rockland County. Once designated in Ramapo’s Comprehensive Plan as ecologically sensitive and recommended for special limited development of up to 100 homes, in 2004 it was downzoned from 2- to 1-acre zoning. Then in 2010, it was rezoned to multi-family MF-8 development.
“I had never seen an application that downzoned property to this extent,” said County Executive Ed Day, one of the project’s foes since his days representing Pomona in the County Legislature. Pomona was a party to the suits. “The application shocks the senses, and the scope of this proposal poses an enormous and irreversible impact upon our community and our environment.”
According to the Appellate Court decisions, developers can only go forward with the project on the 200-acre former farm if they restart all environmental studies and requests for approvals and zone changes. The court annulled the Town of Ramapo’s zone change, amendment to the comprehensive plan, and subdivision approvals.
Day also praised neighbors and community groups that have been fighting the Patrick Farm development, including Suzanne Mitchell and Deborah Munitz, who formed the group Ramapo Organized for Sustainability and a Safe Aquifer, or ROSA.
“It goes to show that one person or one organization can fight Town Hall and win,” he said.
ROSA members called the 10 connected decisions handed down Wednesday a “home run.”
As we hoped, the Appellate Court agreed that the Town’s original reviews were flawed and is now forcing the Town of Ramapo to revisit the environmental impacts for the zone change, essentially returning the property back to its original low density designation.” Munitz said in a statement.
The Rockland County Planning Department issued an 8-page review of the proposal in 2016 that contained 47 issues of concern.
“The nearly 200-acre site is environmentally sensitive because it contains an aquifer, wetlands, flood plains and steep slopes,” Day said. “This is exactly the kind of development that will irreparably harm our environment, including our precious water supply. It must be stopped.”
The county began foreclosure proceedings against the owners of Patrick Farm in 2016 after they fell three years behind on their tax bill. The next day, the developers paid $385,000 in back taxes.
The owners are now 10 months behind on their current bill and owe the County nearly $265,000 in taxes, records show. They also owe the East Ramapo School District $200,000 in unpaid taxes, Day said Thursday. He has instructed County Attorney Thomas Humbach to take whatever legal action is available to collect taxes owed on the property.
“I am pleased and relieved that the courts have finally agreed that this development cannot go forward,” said Day, who testified before the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2013, asking them not to allow the project. “It’s a win for our environment, our communities and our way of life.”
ROSA offered these links to the decisions:
- 2017-11-08 Appellate Bodin v Planning Bd 201407005
- 2017-11-08 Bodin v Town of Ramapo 2012-08347
- 2017-11-08 Matter of Bodin v Planning Bd 201211030
- 2017-11-08 Shapiro v Planning Bd 2012-10588
- 2017-11-08 Shapiro v Planning Bd 2014-07003
- 2017-11-08 Shapiro v Town of Ramapo 2012-08384
- 2017-11-08 Shapiro v Town of Ramapo 2013-06059
- 2017-11-08 Village of Pomona v Planning Bd 2012-10582
- 2017-11-08 Village of Pomona v Town of Ramapo 2013-06058
- 2017-11-08 Youngewirth v Town of Ramapo Town Bd 2013-06057
By Lanning Taliaferro, Patch Staff | Nov 10, 2017 9:19 am ET
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