Clarkstown to explore 6-month block on development in residential areas

NEW CITY – Clarkstown voted on Tuesday to open a public hearing on a new law to impose a 6-month moratorium on new developments in residential areas while the town explores changes to its land use regulations.

The law, proposed by Supervisor Alex Gromack and council members Shirley Lasker and Stephanie Hausner, would block development while the Town considers more stringent rules on allowable land uses. It is hoped by its proponents that the changes will preserve Clarkstown’s residential character from over-development and help maintain property values.

“Many of the allowable uses simply don’t belong in our neighborhoods,” Gromack said in a press release. “The changes I am recommending will protect the character and tranquility of our residential neighborhoods. There is nothing more important than residents knowing that their quality of life is protected by the zoning regulations in Clarkstown.”

The proposed moratorium would not impact areas zoned for commercial development.

The passage of the resolution was unanimous, though Councilman George Hoehmann, who is challenging Gromack in the upcoming race for Town Supervisor, had previously called the move a publicity stunt meant to boost support for his opponent’s campaign.

He stated, “The 6-month moratorium on residential housing is an obvious political move to trick the people of Clarkstown into believing Alex Gromack is doing something about Illegal housing. This is just an election year scam that will ironically expire after Election Day. Then what? I have a comprehensive 5-point plan to address illegal housing. My plan will require several local laws to amend building and zoning codes as well as expanded penalties and increased enforcement.”

According to Gromack, current land use rules are outdated, with some dating back more than half a century. Current uses acceptable under the law include nurseries, orchards, places of worship, day care centers, summer camps, private schools and senior housing. Some industrial uses such as landfills, sand pits and gravel pits are also permissible.

It is possible some land uses could remain permissible as long as they are in commercial zones or along major roadways that can handle additional traffic.

Clarkstown has become more stringent with zoning enforcement as concerns about over-development in Ramapo have grown. The Town has recently with a potential high-density housing project near Pascack Ridge in Nanuet and a potential 2,400 expansion to the Anellotech bio-tech facility at Pearl River’s Pfizer campus, a project which includes an 85-foot smokestack.

In many ways, the Pascack Ridge project epitomizes the tension between more relaxed standards in Ramapo and strict enforcement in Clarkstown. The project involves the construction of up to 210 units on a 26.5 acre plot of land near the town line in Spring Valley. Clarkstown officials have been petitioning Ramapo to decline developer Monsey Lumber’s efforts to re-zone the land to allow high-density, multifamily housing.

The hearing has been set for September 29, following a 30-day public comment period. The board will vote on the resolution the following week.

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