United Monroe and Preserve Hudson Valley announced Wednesday an agreement with the Village of Kiryas Joel that all parties hope will ease political tensions.
The deal provides a path to ending their conflicts of nearly four years over Kiryas Joel’s two land annexation attempts and supports Kiryas Joel’s initiative to politically separate from the Town of Monroe by forming a new town. The agreement was negotiated over the course of several months by leaders of United Monroe, Preserve Hudson Valley, and Kiryas Joel.
“This agreement sets in motion a plan to settle Preserve Hudson Valley’s lawsuit over the 164 acre annexation and to put an end, once and for all, to Kiryas Joel’s on-going attempt to annex 507 acres of land from the Town of Monroe. The plan also supports politically separating the two municipalities. This would give the citizens of both municipalities the ability to separately pursue their destinies and quality of life aspirations which sharply differ. Kiryas Joel has focused on urban-style living and the rest of the town is centered on suburban and semi-rural living. Our hope is to end Monroe’s many years of strife caused by the battle for control of the Town Board with its far-reaching powers over annexation, zoning, board appointments, permits, tax monies, and employee hiring” said Michael Egan who led the negotiations for United Monroe and Preserve Hudson Valley; Emily Convers, Chairwoman, United Monroe; and John Allegro, Director, Preserve Hudson Valley in a joint statement.
They went on to say “We are extremely pleased to report that the plan also guarantees the integrity of the Monroe Woodbury Central School District. It predicates the creation of the new town on the alteration of school district boundaries so that the new town and the Kiryas Joel Union Free School District are coterminous.”
Key points of the agreement include:
- Mutual support for the approval by the Orange County Legislature and Town of Monroe voters of a new town, politically separate and apart from Monroe, composed of the current Village of Kiryas Joel and 56 acres from the Town of Monroe.
- Withdrawal of Kiryas Joel’s appeal of the 507 acre annexation denial decision.
- Withdrawal of Preserve Hudson Valley’s appeal of the 164 acre annexation approvals.
- A requirement that the boundaries of the school districts of Kiryas Joel and Monroe-Woodbury be altered so that the Kiryas Joel Union Free School District conforms to the new town’s boundaries before the Legislature votes on the new town. Without such change, the agreement will terminate.
- A prohibition on Kiryas Joel and the new town from approving or supporting annexations from Monroe or Blooming Grove for ten years after the commencement of the new town.
- A prohibition on Kiryas Joel and the new town from encouraging or assisting in the formation of any new villages for ten years after the commencement of the new town.
- Withdrawal of a 2014 annexation petition to move land from Monroe into Blooming Grove.
This agreement ends nearly four years of contentious relations between village leaders and the United Monroe and Preserve Hudson Valley organizations. Leaders on both sides hope that this agreement will lead to a more peaceful coexistence between Kiryas Joel and its neighbors.
A petition to annex 507 acres of land from Monroe into the Village of Kiryas Joel was submitted in December of 2013. Another petition, for 164 acres, was submitted in August 2014. The previous Monroe Town Board voted “Yes” on the 164 acre annexation in September 2015.
Years of delay and court battles led to Kiryas Joel petitioning for separation in September 2016, taking 382 acres of land from the Town of Monroe with it. The acreage was negotiated down to 56 acres of land to be taken in addition to the existing Village of Kiryas Joel boundaries.
The Orange County Legislature is scheduled to hold public hearings on the proposed new town on August 15 and 16 and to conduct a vote in September. If passed by a two-thirds majority of the Legislature, the vote will go to a Monroe Town-wide referendum on the ballot on November 7, 2017 along with the Town Supervisor, Town Council, and Town Justice seats, giving every voter in the town the opportunity to vote on this political separation.
Assemblyman James Skoufis said he is studying the agreement before making comment.
A well-known observer of local politics from Preserve Ramapo said he was concerned over the 10-year expiration on the deal, a relatively short amount of time.
Content primarily from United Monroe/Preserve Hudson press release