May 18, 2021
A DEIS Hearing Will Be Held May 26; Public Comments Period Ends June 21
By Tina Traster
The Town of Ramapo will be accepting public comment on the proposed new World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses Audio/Video Production Center now that the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) is complete. There is a DEIS hearing on May 26 and public comments will be accepted until June 21.
The 1.7 million square-foot project, known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, is slated for 155 Sterling Mine Road in largely Sloatsburg and partly in Tuxedo in Orange County. Of the 249 acres, 242 are located in Ramapo; the balance is in Tuxedo. The Tuxedo portion of land will be used for secondary driveway access.
The religious order, known as the Worldwide Order of Special Full Time Servants of Jehovah’s Witnesses, is hoping to build an A/V production center with audio and video production studios and facilities to support operations of the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The facilities include offices, maintenance and set production workshops, and a central chilled/hot water plant with geothermal heat recovery system. Accommodations for resident staff include 645 residential units (545 one-bedroom and 100 studio units), dining/assembly spaces, recreation/wellness/fitness facilities, and a clinic.
The project also includes a Visitors Center, which would welcome the public to the campus and offer Bible-related exhibits as well as exhibits on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The proposal would rezone the portion of the project site within the Town of Ramapo to a new MU-3 Mixed-Use Zoning District to permit the applicant to develop an integrated residential and commercial campus.
The Ramapo portion of the project site was previously subdivided into 293 lots for the “Sterling Mine Road Active Adult Community,” which was commonly known as the “Lorterdan Project.” No physical improvements were made to the property following the subdivision approval.