Thursday, August 21, 2014

Property owners file new Kiryas Joel annexation request 

A group of Monroe property owners have filed a new petition to annex land into Kiryas Joel, carving out 164 of the 507 acres they had included in an earlier annexation petition that has been stalled in Albany.

The petitioners haven't withdrawn the larger annexation request they submitted in December, which is on hold until the state Department of Environmental Conservation chooses a lead agency for the environmental review. The new petition is limited to 71 parcels of unincorporated Monroe land on Kiryas Joel's northern and eastern borders, which form gaps between the village and neighboring Woodbury.

Steven Barshov, the attorney representing the petitioners, said Thursday that his clients wanted to pursue a “manageable, bite-sized” petition that made their rationale for annexation “easier to understand.”

“I think it presents a picture which is a little more manageable,” he said. “It's easier to focus on a specific group of properties.”

He stressed that his clients intend to prepare a full environmental impact statement for the 164-acre annexation request, lest anyone suspect the purpose of reducing the land size was to skirt environmental scrutiny.

“The environmental review will be equally robust,” Barshov said.

Still unclear is whether the Monroe and Kiryas Joel boards can entertain an annexation petition that encompasses land included an another petition that is still active. Barshov said he believes they can, but will discuss that issue with attorneys for the town and village.

Daniel Richmond, a White Plains attorney representing the citizens group United Monroe, which has challenged the previous annexation request, said he's still researching the legality of simultaneous petitions with overlapping properties.

“It seems to me that they're sort of creating a mess here,” he said.

The DEC must decide whether the Monroe Town Board or Kiryas Joel Village Board will oversee the environmental review for the 507-acre annexation request, since both boards asked to be named lead agency. The DEC has delayed making that decision for months, effectively putting the petition on hold.


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