The larger issue behind the lawsuit remains Ramapo’s failure to maintain single-family housing, say critics of the expansion plan.
“A lawsuit seeking to void a town agency’s zoning variance to allow high-density housing off Union Road has passed muster with a judge.
Acting Supreme Court Judge Sherri Eisenpress rejected the developer’s attempt to derail the lawsuit filed by citizen’s group CUPON-Hillcrest and Sharon Doucette, whose property shares a narrow driveway with the project, called the Bluefield Extension.
The property is targeted for development of 15 to 20 units on approximately one acre. It sits across from the massive Bluefield complex of multiple family townhouses.
Eisenpress ruled Doucette and CUPON could seek to annul the Ramapo Zoning Board of Appeals approvals granting variances without a zone change from the Town Board, legal papers contend.
The judge also ruled the legal action was filed on time, despite allegations to the contrary by the town.
CUPON, the acronym for Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhood, has successfully challenged several town planning and zoning approvals. Doucette has lived in her house for 44 years. The county government joined the lawsuit after Ramapo failed to get a planning department recommendation, as required by law.
“While this is not the final legal verdict,” CUPON-Hillcrest President Micheal Miller said, “Judge Eisenpress … recognized that CUPON-Hillcrest claims are worthy of judicial review.
Miller said the developer and town “threw out some fairly specious arguments in a somewhat haphazard attempt to suppress this lawsuit. The defendants will be hard pressed to defend what CUPON-Hillcrest believes is fairly an indefensible position.”
Larger issue looms
The larger issue behind the lawsuit remains Ramapo’s failure to maintain single-family housing, and instead, favoring developers and multi-family housing complexes, Miller and other advocates said.
CUPON has associated movements in several villages, including Spring Valley, Chestnut Ridge and Pomona.
Miller said the “builders have depleted most available land in Monsey and Spring Valley” and are “buying single family homes in neighborhoods with expandable land and converting them to multi-family dwellings.”
Miller and other advocates contend the Ramapo Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are up-zoning these properties with accessory apartments for ultra-Orthodox renters or buyers.
Ramapo activist Deborah Munitz said Eisenpress’s ruling is a step toward maintaining what’s left of the single-family home neighborhoods amid an onslaught of high-density housing and no trees.
She said the fact that Eisenpress recognized there is no statute of limitation on contesting the original use variance means that there is a possibility that re-zoning through the use variance could get tossed.
The developer’s attorney, Ryan Karben, has not returned calls for comment. Specht is scheduled to speak before CUPON-Hillcrest members on Oct. 22 at the Hillcrest Firehouse on North Main Street, Hillcrest.
Eisenpress also is considering a legal action – cited in the CUPON legal papers – by the county government contending Ramapo ZBA approved the variances without a required evaluation of the Bluefield Extension development from the Rockland Planning Board.
The complaint by the county and CUPON says the ZBA failed to refer the use variance application to the county and falsely referred to a county review that never existed.”
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