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The Patrick Farm Proposal - The Issue Is Overdevelopment

There comes a time when the character of our community takes absolute precedence over the desires of any developer ... and that time is now.

 

Some here in Clarkstown, as well as in other Rockland municipalities, may have heard of the potential for a parcel near the Village of Pomona being "redeveloped". Well, for those whose understanding of this is passing at best, this is the time to peer across your fence and gain some understanding of what this project is all about; how it got to where it is, and why it is important to each and every resident of Rockland County.

Drive from Suffern to Pomona Northeast on Route 202. After you see the Town of Ramapo Equestrian Center on the left, look to the right. From Properity Drive up to Route 306 on the right is the North West boundary of the Patrick Farm property. Turn right from Route 202 onto Route 306 and continue again to look to the right and you can continue to witness what is known as the Patrick Farm property. 

The Patrick Farm is a parcel of 208 acres situated in and around the intersection of Routes 202 and 306, abutting the Village of Pomona which is also part of my legislative district. You’ve probably passed it a hundred times, and never really took in the understated, wilderness beauty of one of the last large open undeveloped parcels of land in the Town of Ramapo. Some may recall that a few years back, the property was considered as a potential golf course for the Town of Clarkstown. The property not only has a pastoral beauty, but is environmentally critical to all of us, as it is the sole source that supplies water to a vast area of the Lower Hudson Valley as well as the northern parts of New Jersey.

Ever so slowly, a dynamic seen way too often over the years maifested itself. The legal zoning protection of this land has been stripped away. Despite being designated within the Town of Ramapo’s Comprehensive Plan as being ecologically sensitive and recommended for special limited development, it was downzoned from 2 acre zoning to 1 acre zoning in 2004. That doubled the potential for single family homes from 100 to 200. Given the characteristics of the property and local community, one would think that was quite enough.

Then, in 2010, and again contrary to the Comprehensive Plan recommendations, the property was inexplicably downzoned again, this time to include multi-family MF-8 development! Of course, this action was immediately followed up by, you guessed it, an application that would develop the property to approximately 87 single-family homes and 410 multi-family units. Multi-family condominiums are planned to have four bedrooms each. The potential for an influx of over 5,000 residents is a reality!

To put this in context for my local neighbors here in New City .... Picture the Dellwood (Paramount) Golf Course on Zukor Road being sold and bringing in nearly 500 buildings of which 80% were multi-family in construction. Wrap your arms around an influx of over 5,000 people. I presume I now have your attention.

If I have not, or if you are like me and prefer visual characterization, the "now" and "possible later photos" that are included will certainly drive home the point.

As a legislator who represents the village of Pomona also, and one who brings an additional perspective as a former president of the Little Tor Neighborhood Association here in New City, I can state without equivocation that during all those years, I had never seen an application that downzoned property to this extent.  Thousands of people; hundreds of homes; a parcel home to wetlands and federal  waterway that feed public drinking water supplies;  clear cutting 140 acres of land; and an unfathomable impact upon traffic in this community. Frankly, the application shocks the senses, and the scope of this proposal poses an enormous and irreversible impact upon community and environment.

This is not an issue that affects one village or one town ... this will impact each and every family and business in Rockland. It is an inappropriate development of land that we will all feel the effect of in some way, shape, or form. Should this development go forward, it will impact upon all my constituents both in Pomona and right here in New City. And if you feel like I and many others do, and wish to stand up and be counted, contact a local group - Rosa4Rockland.org - that is working to ensure that any land development to this property is consistent with the nature and character of the community, environment, and county. 

As a matter of record, below are the text of my comments that I made for the record at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) public hearing on Monday, January 7th that covered application permits before them regarding the Patrick Farm property and the current planned development:

My name is Ed Day, legislator for the county of Rockland, and direct legislative representative for the village of Pomona, which abuts the planned Patrick Farm development. I thank you for scheduling the hearing so all could provide their concerns directly to your agency.

Just a couple of points to segue into my testimony, and borne from a past experience of representing people as a civic association president.  During those years, I have never seen an application that downzoned property to the extent that in front of us tonight. Thousands of people; hundreds of homes; a parcel home to wetlands and federal  waterway that feed public drinking water supplies;  clear cutting 140 acres of land; and an unfathomable impact upon traffic in this community. Frankly, the application shocks the senses.

But to be direct and specific to the matters in front of you, and with the understanding that many who speak have more details and specifics, I offer the following compelling items for your consideration.

My review shows the following: that the application for stream disturbance is incomplete and the SEQRA scoping required a jurisdictional determination from the army corps of engineers, yet that has not been submitted.

The applicant is planning to rebuild the dam and needs a dam permit. They are looking to lower their dam classification and are planning to increase the culvert under Rte. 202 in order to do that. This also potentially increases the flooding downstream.

I request that you ensure three permits: stream disturbance, dam permit, and water quality and that the submitted information is independent of assertions by the applicant and/or the town. The fact that even united water has expressed strong concerns about the impact of the proposal on their multiple wells underscores the importance of this.

Finally, despite the fact that the town of Ramapo having a scenic road law that limits development within 1,000’ of the center of routes 202 and 306, a proper visual impact has not been done. This is a key concern of many residents and is an issue that should have been addressed in detail during SEQRA review. I ask that this be covered by the DEC as part of your findings.

I have confidence that once your agency does the due diligence that you are known for, and that is clearly indicated as needed here, you will find that my initial observation rings true; this proposal does not belong in a rural area such as this as it betrays both the people who call this area home and the environment all of us in the entire county share. Thank you.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sidney January 19, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Thank you, Mr. Day, for being honest and letting us all know that for as much as you may speak and advocate, there is nothing you can do as a legislator or a county executive to help us stop development at Patrick Farm. Makes me wonder, though, if that development does go through (and hopefully not), aren't you going to be lobbying for those 5,000 votes like other politicians in Pomona in your next campaign in 2017?
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day January 19, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Sidney: Just to be clear, my present legislative district abuts this proposed development; is of great concern to my constituents; and am representing that concern on their behalf as I believe I should. As far as "lobbying" for a vote, you need only look at my record to understand that I do not lobby. I merely represent factually who I am and where I stand so the voters can weigh that and hopefully support me. If you are suggesting that I would support something that I believe is wrong in order to gain votes, you need to get to know me better. For example, I have been told that if I, using your words, was "like other politicians", I would not have publicly taken this stand to begin with, especially given the fact I am part of the County Executive race. I guess that should answer your question!
Sidney January 19, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Was it "taking a stand" when you skipped the vote to keep/override the County Executive's veto of the 2013 budget? Because it seemed kind of cowardly.
Rockland County Legislator Ed Day January 19, 2013 at 07:31 PM
"Sidney": I gave you the courtesy of a reply and my record in my life is clear and not hidden behind a pseudonym and computer. One could suggest that could "seems kind of cowardly", no? And the record here is clear; notice was given to the legislature well beforehand that I would be out of town on business; that vote was a mere rehash of a budget position that I already voted on 2 weeks prior and was not changing my position on (as some did-interesting that fact eludes you); and if I magically could have been there, a vote - either way as a matter of fact - would have not changed the outcome. How this all affects your world eludes me, other than your wish to make baseless, political attacks. Have a nice day, sir.
Ed Knyfd September 05, 2013 at 10:11 AM
This whole Patrick Farm development wreaks of incompetence at every level! It could become the poster-child for poor land use decisions. It highlights that fact that local municipalities are not capable of making land use decisions that give just, adequate, legal, and thoughtful decisions to the consequences of their actions. This is the fruit of a selfish closed community that cares little for impact this development will have on those outside its community. In fact, the project will not benefit the community at all, it's sole purpose is to serve a closed religious community. As others have stated above, this project will negatively affect water quality in the area, it will negatively affect United Water's wells that provide drinking water to more than 90% of the county, this project will affect downstream users in New Jersey who rely on the watershed for drinking water, this project will increase noise, traffic, and impact essential services who now have the responsibility of responding to thousands more citizens in cases of police, fire, and EMS services, this project will degrade and forever change the character of the community.

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