Kiryas Joel, NY - Hoping For Greater Independence, KJ Proposes Creation Of New Town
Kiryas Joel, NY - Hoping to find a way to allow its residents to conduct their lives without the scrutiny of outsiders, the Village of Kiryas Joel announced plans on Tuesday to legally separate itself from the Town of Monroe with the creation of a new town called North Monroe.
The new town, located north of Route 17, would encompass the existing Village of Kiryas Joel and would also include parcels of land totaling 382 acres in size, according to the Times Herald Record.
State law requires a petition signed by a minimum of 650 town residents to create a new town. The proposal would require a two thirds approval approval by the Orange County Legislature before being submitted to a voter referendum in the Town of Monroe.
If approved, the new town would remove the powerful Kiryas Joel voting bloc from all elections in the Town of Monroe. Kiryas Joel’s administrator Gedalye Szegedin called the proposed new town a practical way to eliminate concerns that Kiryas Joel voters have too much influence in town issues.
“We firmly believe that this is an important step in the healing process for these two communities,” said Szegedin.
A statement by Emily Convers of United Monroe, which has butted heads numerous times with the Village of Kiryas Joel, described the proposal as “another sneak attack by the KJ leaders to grab land.”
Convers criticized the proposal, saying it would bring thousands of high density apartments and tens of thousands of additional residents to Monroe. While those residents might not have the ability to vote in local elections held by the Town of Monroe, they would still be an influential block vote in any countywide elections.
Convers called on Orange county legislators to block the creation of the proposed town, describing Kiryas Joel as “an illegitimate municipality who consistently violates municipal and environmental laws.”
Ari Felberman, government relations coordinator for Kiryas Joel, said that the idea for separating Kiryas Joel from the Town of Monroe was proposed by former Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun years ago.
“It’s an idea whose time may have come because of the differences between our cultures,” Felberman told VIN News. “History proves that whenever Kiryas Joel separated itself from its neighbors, as in the case of the KJ School District, library, sewer and fire districts, peace ensued and everyone benefited. We saw this even more so with the KJ Sewer Plant which helped the county settle lawsuits brought by developers when the county imposed a building moratorium because of a lack in sewer capacity. ”
In an April 2016 Journal News editorial, Kiryas Joel school superintendent Joel Petlin recommended that the troubled East Ramapo School District look north to Kiryas Joel to solve its problems by splitting into two separate districts.
“The creation of the Kiryas Joel School District has indisputably created peace and harmony from the residents of both the Kiryas Joel and Monroe-Woodbury School districts,” said Petlin. “For nearly three decades, this solution has allowed both districts to thrive, have adequate resources and the ability to specialize in the areas that each community desires for their district.”
Felberman acknowledged that some will portray the proposal as another attempt by Kiryas Joel to gain more land for its growing community as its highly contested annexation bid awaits a decision by the New York State Supreme Court.
A moratorium on new construction has halted the development of five new housing developments in the Town of Monroe.
According to the Photo News, residents of both Blooming Grove and South Blooming Grove have been receiving unsolicited offers to sell their homes, with additional construction and home purchases by members of the Chasidic community taking place in Woodbury.
“The anti annexation movement has caused a Whack -A-Mole like atmosphere ” said Felberman. “The tremendous lack of housing in the village is the direct cause of the spill-over to neighboring communities.”
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