A BRIEF OVERVIEW:
On December 27th, 2013 an annexation petition was filed by developer Simon Gelb to move 507 acres of mostly rural-zoned land from the Town of Monroe into the high density Village of Kiryas Joel.
This annexation was met with immediate opposition for a number of reasons. The Village of Kiryas Joel leaders are known environmental violators having multiple DEC and EPA violations.
The expansion of the Village of Kiryas Joel would mean an immediate zoning change from mostly rural zoning to high density urban zoning. This shift and subsequent development would create negative impacts on the following:
• air quality
• plant life
• animal life
• Ramapo River
Alarmingly, The DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation), a State agency, awarded the Village of Kiryas Joel with the lead agency status for the environmental review process for the annexation. The DEC did, however, delay this decision on lead agency for a year. In the meantime, Kiryas Joel filed a second, smaller annexation petition for 164 acres of land. The 164 acres of Monroe land is part of the 507 acre annexation.
The DEC's decision to award lead agency to Kiryas Joel for the environmental review process was done despite this municipality's irresponsible environmental record and despite the fact that Kiryas Joel has a long track record of non-compliance with SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act).
As expected, Kiryas Joel performed an environmental review which was deemed insufficient and fatally flawed by 27 different land use professionals, planners, environmental organizations and municipalities.
Preserve Hudson Valley has been researching, submitting comments on the record, and has been monitoring the entire annexation process since February of 2014.
The Town Board of Monroe hired an independent consulting firm to assess and generate a report on the environmental review process for the annexations. Their own consulting firm, John Meyer Consulting, issued a report stating that the conclusions drawn by Kiryas Joel in their study were unsubstantiated and erroneous, and that a study would be required for the Town Board to consider a decision.
Despite this, the Town Board voted in favor of the 164 acre annexation. The Kiryas Joel Board of Trustees also, not surprisingly, voted in favor of the annexation.
Preserve Hudson Valley filed an 88 page petition to the Supreme Court on October 5th, 2015, in opposition to this action on the basis of SEQR violations and violations of separation of church and state.