Last night the Ramapo Planning Board unanimously approved a "positive declaration" for an application to build a 215,000 sq. ft. Wal-Mart Supercenter on RT. 59 in Monsey, NY. As the Journal News reports this morning the Board meeting was attended by members of Local 1262 of the UFCW as well as representatives of the Alliance.
The key issue for the board is the center's potential traffic impact on the already congested Rt. 59 corridor. Allen Berman, the Ramapo's attorney did, however, go through a more comprehensive list of concerns that the Town wanted to see addressed by the developer. In particular, he cited the potential impact on the character of the community as well as the socio-economic impact on area businesses. All of these issues are germane to any comprehensive review under the NYSEQR guidelines.
The attorney for the developer, one Charles Bazydlo, complained briefly to the Board that his consultants had already done "exhaustive" traffic studies of the area and held up a two volume example of the work at the meeting. Of course, no independent eyes have ever seen this work or reviewed it for its veracity. Its length is no testament to its accuracy, as we have seen in numerous other developer-sponsored studies.
A good sign last night was the presence of Bruce Levine, Spring Valley's tenacious village attorney. Levine was at the meeting to reiterate Mayor Darden's strong opposition to the proposed store. Darden is quoted in the News saying. "I just don't think this is a place for Wal-Mart...This is an organization that has been around to try to destroy other businesses."
Clearly, as the News points out quoting the Alliance's Richard Lipsky, the positive declaration is a victory for the community. The developer will no have to go through a rigorous year long review process and the Alliance will be hiring its own traffic consultant to provide a degree of accuracy to the developer's self-serving analysis. The Board has scheduled a scoping session for April 4th and we plan to be there in force.