(JNi.media) Eight towns and villages in Orange County, NY, are filing a lawsuit to challenge the proposed annexation of 507 acres of privately owned land into the Village of Kiryas Joel in the town of Monroe in Orange County, New York. The need for the added land stems from the unprecedented rate of growth of the Hasidic community.
A comprehensive assessment of the proposed annexation determined this summer that, by 2040, the projected population of the village will reach about 96,000. “It is this potential for explosive growth that feeds much of the concern within neighboring communities,” states the report.
The county-funded report says public assistance among the village’s residents is at 21 percent, with the largest share of Medicaid spending in the county; other public assistance benefits to the village are also “well above the village’s six percent share of the population.” The Kiryas Joel Union Free School District is a major recipient of federal Title funds—close to $7 million, compared with $1.3 million recievd by the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District.
But Orange County Legislative Chair Steve Brescia told News 12 on Wednesday that an overwhelming majority of legislators agree the current expansion plans for Kiryas Joel are wrong. On Thursday, the Rockland Times reported that a coalition of eight Orange County municipalities— Cornwall-on-Hudson, Harriman, Monroe, South Blooming Grove and Woodbury and the Towns of Blooming Grove, Cornwall and Woodbury—have executed a Municipal Cooperation Agreement that authorized the New York City Law Firm of Bryan Cave to commence litigation challenging the 507- and 164-acre annexation petitions to annex territory from the Town of Monroe to the Village of Kiryas Joel, and to challenge the environmental review with respect to the petitions.
The municipalities are concerned about water and sewer resources in the region, and have pointed out deficiencies in the environmental review conducted in advance of the proposed annexations.
“The rights of Orthodox Jewish landowners to develop their land in housing are no more nor less than the rights of other landowners,” the county study said. “The rest of the county has the right to ensure that this process of development is sustainable and is consistent with community standards, as reflected in environmental and land use law and precedent.”
The report says the leadership of Kiryas Joel is entitled to provide housing for new families, “but that right is not unlimited just because this is a religious community. … While it can choose to be set apart culturally, Kiryas Joel and the larger Orthodox Jewish community still must comply with laws passed by Orange County and the State of New York that are intended to ensure that growth is substantial and balances the interests of all of the region’s residents. These conflicts can and should be settled through negotiated agreements, not through the courts.”