Goshen, NY - Orange County: Kiryas Joel Annexation Environmental Impact Statement Flawed
Goshen, NY - Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Commissioner of Planning David Church announced on Monday that the County has filed a 16-page response to the proposed annexations of approximately 165 acres and 507 acres from the Town of Monroe into the Village of Kiryas Joel.
The study of the proposed annexations was launched by Neuhaus and gained support from the County Legislature by a vote of 20-1 last month. The County’s comments highlight a series of substantive deficiencies in the environmental analysis offered by the Village of Kiryas Joel with respect to the proposed annexations. In January of this year, state DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens named the Village of Kiryas Joel the “Lead Agency” for the proposed annexation. That state decision gave the Village of Kiryas Joel the key environmental authority in reviewing the annexation. Orange County is presently in court opposing that ruling.
At this point in the environmental review, the Village of Kiryas Joel is developing a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) for the proposed annexations. This is a summary of potential impacts relating to the annexations. Neuhaus said the DGEIS is deeply flawed.
“The central theme of the DGEIS is that the growth will be equal with or without the annexation,” Neuhaus said. “I think that theory is flawed. The independent study that I commissioned shows the annexation has regional impacts. Any community that welcomes high density housing, which annexes land from areas where high density is less common, will just spur growth at a faster level. That’s just a fact.”
L. Stephen Brescia, Chariman of the Orange County Legislature, added: “The County’s parallel study points out numerous concerns with respect to the DGEIS and what impacts the annexation could have on the environment. It certainly affirms the Legislature’s vote to proceed with the parallel study.”
The County provided more than 70 comments relative to the DGEIS. Chief among them include:
• Population growth is only projected 10 years out when it is obvious that such growth will continue for far longer than that.
• The potential need to grow the Harriman Wastewater Treatment plant along with the accompanying costs, which would be spread out to users across that District, is an important factor.
• The proposed annexation uses out of date mass transit analysis, which may paint a more favorable picture of the use of mass transit versus cars.
• The DGEIS fails to properly contemplate ground disturbance on the land to be annexed and its impact on nearby communities.
• The DGEIS fails to analyze what would happen if neither annexation is approved and the anticipated population growth is dissipated elsewhere.
• An improper assumption that the municipal services sought by those seeking to be annexed into Kiryas Joel can only be achieved through annexation, rather than working with the Planning and Town Boards of the Town of Monroe.
• The impact on emergency services is unclear. The tax base of the existing Monroe fire district could be negatively impacted if the annexation is permitted. In addition, the use of “Watch guards” by the Village of Kiryas Joel for public safety provides limited public safety authority under law. The lack of fire hydrants can become a public safety concern if high density construction occurs.
• In addition, regional impacts during mass gathering times in Kiryas Joel should be considered.
• Growth of County public health services is unaddressed. The County must, for example, inspect and monitor camps, food service establishments, and some recreation facilities.
• Adequate water supply.
“The DGEIS is fundamentally flawed for a variety of reasons,” Church said. “Key among them is a failure to project growth over an appropriate timeline. Contemplating only a 10-year growth plan for a community known for high density is wrong at every level. From that one error, every other problem with this DGEIS flows. Given that Kiryas Joel is one of the fastest growing communities in the U.S., the DGEIS should be revised to reflect growth over the next 25 years. Only then can we truly analyze traffic, sewer, water, and social services costs.”
More of today's headlines“Israel - Druze villagers on the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights attacked an Israeli military ambulance on Monday and one of two Syrian casualties it was carrying from the...” Israel - Golan Druse Ambush Israeli Ambulance Transferring Syrians, One Dead “Washington - The White House says President Barack Obama will travel to Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday to memorialize the victims of a shooting at a historic...” Washington - Obama To Deliver Eulogy In Charleston