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Residents group lauds ruling halting Patrick Farms

Suzanne Mitchell speaks to supporters as to the

Suzanne Mitchell speaks to supporters as to the process of recent litigation as ROSA stages a fundraiser as part of its efforts to stop the overdevelopment of Patrick Farms at Kruckers in Pomona. (Sept. 23, 2012) Photo Credit: John Meore

Developers of the Patrick Farms subdivision project are headed back to the drawing board with plans to build 500 homes on an environmentally sensitive piece of land in Rockland County.

Last week, a State Supreme Court justice ruled that Monsey-based Scenic Development LLC must resubmit its architectural designs for the controversial housing development before Ramapo's Community Design Review Committee.

In his ruling, Justice Thomas Walsh said the Town of Ramapo had violated its own rules when it bypassed the town's Planning Board in its review of the architectural plans.

The ruling was the latest twist in a two-year legal battle between the developers -- builders Yechiel Lebovits, his sons and Abraham Moscovits -- and Rockland residents who argue that the housing project will have a negative impact on the environment and change the character of the neighborhood.

On Sunday, members of the group that filed the legal challenge -- Ramapo Organized for Sustainability and a Safe Aquifer, or ROSA -- staged a concert to raise money for attorney and other fees and to update hundreds of supporters on the legal tussle.

ROSA's director, Suzanne Mitchell, said the legal victory was hard-fought but shows that a small group of dedicated individuals can have an impact.

"Developers bank on the fact that you can't galvanize a community, but we have proved them wrong," she said. "We will continue to take whatever legal action is necessary to ensure public safety, aquifer and wetland protection, and compliance with all local, state and federal laws."

James Quinn of Montebello was one of hundreds who attended Sunday's fundraiser, which cost $60 per person and featured a concert headlined by Jon Pousette-Dart, son of the famous Rockland County artist. The engineer got involved in the campaign against Patrick Farms two years ago amid concerns about the impact of the development on local roads.

He said the traffic impact from the proposed development will be substantial, and he insisted that the developers lowballed estimates of the number of vehicles at the housing project.

"We're hoping that the ruling will open the door on the traffic issue so we can begin addressing this issue," he said.

Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and attorneys for the developers couldn't be reached for comment.

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