By Kathy Kahn and Jennifer Korn
The Nor’easter that hit Rockland Wednesday evening did not deter South Nyack residents from getting to the polls on Thursday, Dec. 17.
In the hope of retaining the village’s distinction as a quaint “rivertown” community, residents overwhelmingly voted “yes” to dissolve the mini-municipality by a margin of 508-292. First established in 1878, the Village of South Nyack will soon be reabsorbed into the Orangetown government.
Both in-person and legal absentee ballots were certified Friday morning, Dec. 18, by the Village of South Nyack Board of Trustees.
The proposal to dissolve the village was originally put forth earlier this year when it was revealed that Nyack College’s 128-acre campus was to be sold to Yeshiva Viznitz of Monsey for $45.5 million. The announcement was soon followed by a proposal from the worldwide Viznitz Orthodox religious organization to put family-style housing on what would become a boys-only campus.
It is not unheard of for a municipality to dissolve itself and the process can take anywhere from 12 months to two years. Many residents were willing to sacrifice autonomy for savings, prompted by fears that the new yeshiva would drastically increase the village population. Others, including Rockland County Legislator Nancy Low-Hogan, wanted the village to retain its political autonomy. “It is not reasonable or realistic to dissolve a village every time this happens,” wrote Low-Hogan .
“The unfortunate situation is a result of a fear-driven campaign that was pushed by using Anti Semitic lies,” said Yehuda Zorger, of Airmont. “And the result of this vote does not stop this yeshiva or any Jewish organization from building and expanding as is their legal right like any property owner in this country.”
Many services that the village currently receives will be picked up by Orangetown, and homeowners in “median”-priced homes can expect to see a decrease in their taxes by approximately $1,440 a year. Home prices in the chic enclave already sell for an average of $500,000 and up.
The village board has 210 days after Friday’s certification to create a dissolution plan and hold a public hearing.
The decision to dissolve could potentially be reversed if 25 percent of eligible village voters sign a petition for a second referendum.
Only 800 of the 1982 village residents that were eligible to vote in the referendum cast a ballot.
In a poll taken before the vote, readers of the Rockland County Times expressed their preference that the village be dissolved, with just 25 percent of respondents calling to leave the village intact.