Community View

A letter to Senator Carluci, Assemblyman Zembrowski & Assemblywoman Jaffee from Monsey resident Asher Kaufman

Fourteen years ago the Town of Ramapo produced a Comprehensive Plan and the only mention of Seniors living in single family homes is to say they “no longer need or want the responsibilities associated with maintenance of a single-family home” while completely ignoring that many seniors in the community do want to remain and spent considerable amounts of money maintaining their single-family homes so grandchildren can visit them in the houses their parents grew up in.

This was both discriminatory and degrading to people who expected to live in the homes they purchased over 50 years ago in the expectation they would be able to live out their lives here. Instead, Seniors like my parents have been harassed by developers who want them to give up living among homes they enjoy with lawns and gardens. The developers are surrounding them with the same urban monstrosities they moved away from. If they had wanted to live among multi-family high-rises and be forced to endure bumper-to-bumper traffic they would have stayed in the city. The Town of Ramapo has shown in the past only heartless disdain for their long-time Senior residents.

We are extremely grateful for the aid County Executive Ed Day and his staff have shown to the plight of my parents’ and their other senior neighbors. But there is only so much that can be done by the county because most of the problems caused at the Town level by a now removed administration still linger. Recently I, my parents and several of our neighbors met with Supervisor Specht at his request but any action he may take is only for the future. The town needs to rectify the omission from the Comprehensive Plan 14 years ago and the resulting improper zoning for those affected by it now without delay!

Even though the Town of Ramapo has made it easy over the last 15 years for realtors and developers to push out many senior residents through their hostile zoning and planning, enough remain that Monsey should be designated a Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NNORC). I understand this is not a designation that affects zoning but something must be done to protect Senior Citizens from a small group of developers and realtors who have no regard to the needs, desires, rights and established expectations of residents who, over the course of just a few years, found themselves besieged by urban tenements.

If the Ramapo Building and Planning Board & Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) were performing their tasks fully as required by law they would be advocates for the older residents of the community who because of their age and their means are unable to provide the detailed neighborhood studies like traffic the Planning and Board and ZBA want the residents to provide to respond to the attorneys of hostile and predatory developers at repeated public hearings that in many cases wear down elderly attendees. The Boards should be performing these tasks themselves! Senior residents should not have to hire attorneys to counter those of developers.

If they were sincere, supposedly religious developers and realtors would have respect for the senior residents they try to shoehorn tenements next to. But since they apparently forget the words of Leviticus 19:32 -“You shall rise before a venerable person and you shall respect the elderly,” I humbly ask you, our state representatives, to legislate protection from heartless developers for these senior citizen residents of Rockland County and elsewhere by requiring NY state municipalities to establish and correct residential zones that respect and take into account the needs, rights and expectations of seniors who want to remain in their homes (which was not done by Ramapo in 2004) and enforce those regulations properly.

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