Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ramapo housing lawsuit may hinge on aquifer under 497 planned homes 

Ramapo's approval of a massive housing project outside Pomona and atop an aquifer is scheduled for legal arguments in a New City courtroom Monday.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Walsh called in all sides for arguments on numerous environmental and legal issues supporting or opposing the town's approval of nearly 500 homes along routes 202 and 306.

The arguments originally were scheduled for Aug. 12, but the Monsey-based developer's lawyer, Terry Rice, requested a postponement.

At stake is whether the Ramapo Planning Board and town met all the environmental and legal requirements when approving the developer's plans.

The development has been stalled by the legal actions.

The Planning Board's approval in January was for 87 single-family homes with four bedrooms, and 410 multifamily units with up to six bedrooms.

The multifamily units would comprise 314 townhouses, 72 condominiums and 24 rental apartments for people purportedly involved in volunteer services.

Ramapo's lawyers argue the Town Board followed the law in changing the zoning on the property and the Planning Board addressed all environmental issues and laws in approving the project.

The developers, Yechiel Lebovits, his sons and Abraham Moscovits of Scenic Development LLC of Monsey, bought the land years ago when it was zoned for one house per acre.

The Town Board changed the zoning for multiple-family housing on the environmentally sensitive property, arguing Ramapo needs more housing.

Three opponents, including the village of Pomona, lost separate bids in state Supreme Court to stop the development amid 208 acres.

Those legal actions were dismissed by Justice Linda Jamieson. Among the issues she cited was those suing lacked standing. Her decisions have been appealed to the Appellate Division.

Ramapo lawyers said Jamieson's decisions validated the town's environmental review and approval of the project.


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