The Ramapo Town Board approved a Conceptual Development Special Permit (CDSP) for the Watchtower World Headquarters Audio/Visual Studio project at its December 28, 2022, meeting.

This major approval milestone was achieved after almost three years of work. The CDSP process was created for the Watchtower project in response to the Town Board’s desire to have greater control. The CDSP sets the layout and overall parameters of the project, including road network, general building placement, building density, occupancy density, and clearing limitations. The project must now proceed to both the Ramapo and Tuxedo Planning Boards for site plan approval. (A portion of the site is in the Town of Tuxedo. The CDSP is not binding on the Town of Tuxedo.)

As part of the CDSP, the Town Board authorized a plan to allow certain buildings to exceed the general height limitation. This authorization required Watchtower to meet certain criteria, such as increased visual impact mitigation, not increasing FAR, decreasing development coverage, and dedicating at least 50% of the site as protected open space.

The Town Board also authorized the felling of trees within the Ramapo portion of the site prior to Ramapo site plan approval being granted. Watchtower had asked for this authorization because of the nature of the site and the relatively short window of time available from NYSDEC for felling. Watchtower established that felling the entire site at one time would allow for a more balanced cut and fill, fewer truck trips, and better erosion control than if only a portion was felled before the window closed.