*** BREAKING NEWS *** Approvals for Bloomingburg development may be rescinded
May 26, 2016 —
The Mamakating planning board, which at least for now still has jurisdiction over Bloomingburg planning decisions, unanimously adopted a resolution on May 24 calling for developer Shalom Lamm to explain why the approvals granted for his controversial development Villages at Chestnut Ridge should not be rescinded. The resolution explains that the planning board will consider rescinding the approvals.
The approvals were granted based on the information contained in environmental documents, which are required by the state for such developments. The resolution says the information provided to the planning board as part of the environmental review process seems to be false. That assertion is based on documents unsealed by a federal court in April in which Lamm reveals that the intent of the development was ultimately to house thousands of Hasidic families, which would put the population well beyond what was foreseen in the environmental documents.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) dates to June 2009 and according to the resolution said “that the anticipated number of occupants of the 396-dwelling unit project will not exceed 810 and that the number of school-age children will not exceed 110.” But the documents unsealed by the court last month, according to the resolution, “appear to demonstrate the developer’s plan to develop the lands contiguous to and in the area of the Chestnut Ridge project for the construction of 5,000 dwelling units over a 10-15 year development period, lands already acquired or optioned by the developer.”
The resolution says it appears that the size of the community that was laid out in the unsealed documents, would have environmental impacts, which had not been taken into account, on water, sewer, traffic, government services, schools and other areas. The planning board scheduled a “due process hearing for the applicant/developer to be held on June 16, 2016, at 7:00 PM, at the Town Hall.”
It’s not entirely clear how this will play out. The last election in was in March and was held in the wake of Sullivan County making a deal with a number of challenged Hasidic voters who were registered in Bloominburg, which made it difficult if not impossible for any voters to be challenged again. In that vote, the Village of Bloomingburg Board changed from having a majority of members who were seen to be opposed to Lamm’s development to one with a majority that is seen to be in favor of Lamm’s development. The new village board is seeking candidates for a new Bloomingburg planning board, which would undo the current arrangement with the Town of Mamakating planning board, but that has not yet taken place.
The court that ordered the documents unsealed did so as part of the lawsuit brought by Lamm against the Town of Mamakating and the Village of Bloominburg because Lamm was denied a permit to build a girl’s school. But another case (which was thrown out, but that decision is being appealed) is a RICO lawsuit against Lamm brought by the town and the village. Observers had expected that, because a majority of new board is understood to be in favor of Lamm’s development, the village would have withdrawn from the RICO lawsuit, but to this point that has not happened.
To read the remainder of the article and the Resolution click here.