Sky Meadow Road: Ramapo residents blame illegal school for turning road into sheet of ice

“A sheet of ice created dangerous conditions along Sky Meadow Road amid the latest cold snap and the conditions have heated up residents who have been pressuring Ramapo officials to take action against illegal schools operating in the semi-rural neighborhood.

Dr. Masood Haque, who lives on Sky Meadow Road, said he almost slammed his SUV into a tree on Dec. 24 as he drove across the sheet of ice in front of 36 Sky Meadow Road, one of the two single-family houses being used as yeshivas.

Sky Meadow Road ices up from what residents claim is poor drainage from a driveway constructed at a school operating without Ramapo permits. Photo/submitted to the Journal News

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Neighbors have complained about schools

Haque and other neighbors said the school operators have been doing construction and cutting down trees for two years. They blame the drainage issues leading to the iced-up road on the unauthorized paved driveway. They contend Ramapo allowed construction without reviewing plans for drainage control.

“These conditions are the direct result of governmental malfeasance and corruption,” Haque said in a Dec. 24 email to Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht. “The Town of Ramapo is negligent by allowing single-family homes to be converted into commercial dwellings in blatant violation of existing zoning laws.”

The neighbors, like those from other communities in town, said Ramapo officials, instead of protecting the integrity of the neighborhoods, have accommodated developers and congregation leaders who ignore zoning and building regulations, and fire and safety codes.

Larry Frenkel wrote Specht on Dec. 24 that in his nearly 17 years living on Sky Meadow Road such road icing never happened until Yeshiva Shaarei Arazim opened at 36 Sky Meadow Road. The school is one of two that have opened without town approvals. Frenkel said more severe storms never caused such unsafe conditions. He argued the problem arose from unauthorized land clearing, paving, and other construction.

Shortly after the house at 36 Sky Meadow Road was sold in September 2020, a private boys’ school, Yeshiva Shaarei Arazim, with an estimated 80 to 90 students, began operating, said neighbor Lise Crapella, who has lived on Sky Meadow Road for 46 years.

Crapella has said neighbors did not receive any advance notice as buses, vans, and cars drove up and down the long narrow uphill driveway, dropping off and taking home students.

Another boys’ school, Yeshiva Birchas Hatorah, with an estimated 30 to 40 students, later opened in another single-family house on the combined properties totaling 2.76 acres at 40 and 42 Sky Meadow Road.

After residents reported the schools, Ramapo Building Department Code Inspector Peter Muzzi issued the congregations violation summonses in February. Both structures have certificates of occupancy as single-family houses, but no permit to operate as schools. Justice Court is handling the cases, officials said.

The Ramapo Building Department said violations included:

  • operating a boys’ school without an approved site plan;
  • no certificate of occupancy and changing the use to a boys’ school from a single-family house;
  • no building permit;
  • violating a stop-work order;
  • land disturbance without a permit.

Slater said Justice Court action on the violations would wait until the school makes its way through the land-use boards. But, Slater said, new violations could be issued at any time if problems arise.

Crapella said during last week’s rainstorms, water poured down the expanded driveway at 36 Sky Meadow Road. Then the rapid deep freeze hit.”

Read the complete Journal News story here.