ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- In a huge victory for environmentalists, a new legal decision halting the construction of the large Patrick Farms housing plan in Ramapo, drew praise from Rockland County Executive Ed Day.
"This decision sends a loud and clear message that reckless development that does not take into consideration the impact on natural resources will not be tolerated," he said. "Towns cannot allow more development than the environment is able to support."
Day has spoken out against the Patrick Farm proposal for years and has fought to make the developers pay their taxes.
The ruling Wednesday sends the Scenic Development LLC's proposal to build 470-plus housing units outside Pomona back to the drawing board.
"I had never seen an application that downzoned property to this extent," Day said. "The application shocks the senses, and the scope of this proposal poses an enormous and irreversible impact on our community and our environment."
The decision by a state appellate panel annulled both a Ramapo Town Board zoning change and Ramapo Planning Board approvals for the complex that would encompass 206 acres along the Route 202/306 corridor.
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.
Suzanne Mitchell, Director of ROSA said in a statement: “ROSA along with our partners worked tirelessly for the last seven years so that our cases against the Town of Ramapo and Scenic Development were ironclad.
"ROSA's research and fact-based advocacy throughout our numerous legal proceedings led to the positive outcome we had all hoped for," she added.
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.
He has instructed County Attorney Thomas Humbach to take whatever legal action necessary to collect the taxes.
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