This is a summary of documents and information collected
* * * 1930s - 1940s * * *
On October 1, 1935, the Ramapo Heights Corporation (the "Corporation/Developer"), the owners of 225 acres of unimproved land in the Village of Sloatsburg, then known as Ramapo Mountain Lakes, created a sportsman's preserve, called the Ramapo Heights Club, out of a mountain wilderness. The Club was not a homeowners association, it was a private land trust requiring potential members to be "accepted" for membership by a standing Membership Committee. Members were required to pay fees for the maintenance of the recreational lands and related facilities. The Trustees of the Club Grounds were Robert H. Gittins, the president and principal shareholder of the Corporation; Etta M. Gittins; and Hugh E. Gittins. Robert Gittins was a New York State Senator, a U.S. Congressman, a lawyer (admitted in New York and Michigan) and a New York State Park Commissioner.
On August 4, 1939, Robert H. Gittins and the Corporation abandoned the Club and executed a Declaration of Restrictions, Grants, Trusts and Charges, subjecting part of Ramapo Mountain Lakes, specifically, the "Plat I" property -- the northwest area of the community near Seven Lakes Drive, including Mirror Lake (the Lower Lake), The Green, and The Grove -- to the following conditions and restrictions:
The groundbreaking for the new development took place on February 23, 1939 and was attended by Gittins and Sloatsburg's first Mayor, David Henion. Most of the development and initial home sales within Pine Grove Lakes Plat I , then known as "Ramapo Heights," occurred during this time frame.
In September 1948, Ramapo Heights announced its intention to sell all of its land at auction. Included in the sale were three homes and a club house, in addition to all of the common properties (the actual homeowners association had not yet been formed). Ramapo Heights was sold on September 15, 1948 to real estate developer Irving Maidman of Suffern, New York, for $60,000.
On November 7, 1951, the Association of Property Owners at Pine Grove Lakes, Inc. (the "Association") was formed. Also during that year (the exact date is not known), the Corporation/Developer was succeeded in interest by Pine Grove Lakes, Inc. ("PGL, Inc."). On November 12, 1951, less than a week after the Association was formed, PGL, Inc. transferred all of the Plat I roads and recreational lands to the Association, including Mirror Lake (the Lower Lake), The Green, The Grove and certain other properties.
The 1939 Declaration contained a provision allowing the Corporation/Developer to file supplemental declarations subjecting additional areas of land to the benefits and restrictions of the Association. On September 14, 1954, PGL, Inc. filed a supplemental Declaration of Restrictions, Grants, Trusts and Charges adding another portion of Ramapo Mountain Lakes to the Association, specifically, the southeastern area of the community near Pine Grove Lake (the Upper Lake). This area of the community, known as the "Plat II" land, was mostly undeveloped in 1954. PGL, Inc. retained ownership of Pine Grove Lake (the Upper Lake) and the Plat II roads, promising to transfer them to the Association once the residential plots in Plat II had been sold and developed.
Mr. Gittins continued to live in Pine Grove Lakes, residing at 5 Allen Place (on The Green) until he passed away on December 25, 1957.
By 1958, PGL, Inc. had become insolvent. On March 25, 1958, Edward Senft, a real estate investor, purchased all of the Plat II lands, along with certain Plat I lands that hadnít already been assigned to the Association in 1951, in a foreclosure proceeding for the sum of $2,000. Mr. Senft's purchase included Pine Grove Lake (the Upper Lake), all of the undeveloped roads in Plat II, and many residential plots.
* * * 1960s * * *
The 1939 Declaration contained a provision allowing the Association to dedicate its roads to the Village of Sloatsburg. In the early 1960s, the Association dedicated its Plat I roads to the Village. Mr. Senft continued to hold title to the unimproved roads in Plat II, which remained mostly undeveloped throughout the 1960s. (Some of the Plat II roads were later built by the Village and private developers.)
On January 31, 1961, pursuant to a provision in the 1939 and 1954 Declarations, Mr. Senft amended them to permit the Association, for the first time, to elect most (but not all) of its own Trustees. This was the first time control of the Association had begun to be turned over to the residents. Prior to 1961, Pine Grove Lakes, Inc. and Senft were the exclusive administrators of the Association.
* * * 1970s - Present * * *
Between 1970 and 1974, Mr. Senft subdivided and sold the land surrounding Pine Grove Lake (the Upper Lake). In connection with the development of those lots and homes, a swampy part of the lake near the eastern end of the Sunset Road private right-of-way was excavated to become part of the lake. Senft transferred ownership of the Lake to the Association in 1975 and simultaneously filed two amendments to the Declarations waiving assessments on all properties still owned by him, as long as they remained in his name or that of his family.
Even though the Plat I common properties had already been deeded to the Association by PGL, Inc. in 1951, as of 1975, the Association's poor recordkeeping led it to believe that Mr. Senft still owned Mirror Lake (the Lower Lake), The Green, The Grove and the other Plat I common areas. As a result, the Association asked Mr. Senft to transfer ownership of those properties again, and in 1976, he executed a deed granting those properties to the Association, even though it already owned them.
As of 1975, about half of the Plat II land hadbeen developed. However, there were still many undeveloped roads (paper roads) and lots which were, at the time, considered to be unbuildable and/or the cost of paving the roads was prohibitive. At this point, Mr. Senft sold whatever he could, and let many properties go in tax sales to the Village of Sloatsburg. Many of those lots remain undeveloped, today.
In the 1980s, some of the Plat II roads were constructed by private developers, who then dedicated them to the Village.
Mr. Senft, who lived in New York City, passed away in 2003.
All of this information was obtained from records in PGL's own files or at the Rockland Countly Clerk's office.