By Myrna Kemnitz
Among the issues that must be addressed directly in the Village of Kiryas Joel's annexation push to take Town of Monroe lands is the indifference of the Kiryas Joel administration to environmental concerns and the resulting burden borne by neighboring communities in Orange County.
The Kiryas Joel administration regards the rest of Orange County as a third-world entity from which raw materials are extracted and into which waste is dumped.
Illustrating this is the KJ poultry processing plant, which the Orange County Water Department Report — citing data from its own testing and additional corroborating data from an outside agency - documents that saline content measured in water coming from the plant is 20 times higher than normal; the plant used 14 tons of salt daily; and four tons of salt wash into our Monroe water every day. At a total of nine gallons of water per bird (for soaking and then rising each bird three times) and using the plant's advertised figure of 40,000 chickens per day, that is 360,000 GPD, not factoring in 80,000 turkeys per year or counting clean-up water used daily for the facility. All of that water runs into a tributary of the Ramapo River, then through Monroe.
The Town of Monroe, Village of Monroe and Village of Harriman received this report. I was copied on it. Harriman Mayor Stephen Welle filed an Article 78 in behalf of his residents. The salted water continues on its path through the machinery at Orange County Sewer District No. 1, corroding it, then flows into the Ramapo River as drinking water for Rockland County, and on to a couple million people in New Jersey. With annexation and its rapidly increasing population, the KJ poultry plant will increase its kosher bird output ... and its salt outflow. KJ's DEIS is silent on this salted water health issue.
The DEIS must also address the New York State study on global warming increasing snowstorm and rainstorm severity, and resultant amounts of water runoff causing problems for our current waste-water disposal-into-river methodologies at OCSD No. 1.
Already Kiryas Joel and the surrounding community cannot respond to an emergency of a heavy thunderstorm where the water runoff overwhelms the sewage processing capacity and results in sewage backup. It is imperative the amount of all impervious ground coverage be included in the annexation build-out at 10-year and 20-year projections; including: buildings coverage, paved courtyards, roadway asphalt, commercial plaza concrete, concrete sidewalks and sidewalk connections.
Again demonstrating Kiryas Joel's indifference to environmental concerns is its standing apart from all the other municipal entities in Orange County by not recycling, thereby putting an unnecessary burden on county landfills and eventually driving up the cost of operating landfills for the rest of us in the county. Failure to recycle in the 21st century is inexcusable.
Furthermore, Kiryas Joel ignores environmental initiatives for a sustainable planet, including solar and other renewable energy facilities. In our county where air quality is an increasing concern on congested roadways — and at major route and interstate intersections particularly in the Monroe area — Kiryas Joel's 10-year traffic plan does not envision plug-in stations for clean electric cars.
Not in the picture of the proposed area of annexation is there concern for preservation of wildlife habitats. They will be wiped out.
The administration of Kiryas Joel has shown itself to be committed to — and steamrollering ahead — in its own mode and vision of well being for Kiryas Joel alone, unconcerned with neighboring municipalities' population increase or caring that its annexation plan creates added growth problems for its neighbors and Orange County. Because Kiryas Joel's administrators are of a single purpose, they should not control the rezoning for building and land use on any additional Town of Monroe land.
Myrna Kemnitz is the Orange County legislator for District 7 in Monroe.