Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kiryas Joel chosen to lead review of annexation request 

New York's top environmental official ended a yearlong impasse in a controversial request to expand the Village of Kiryas Joel by announcing Wednesday that he had chosen Kiryas Joel over the Town of Monroe to lead a study of the potential environmental impact of the proposal.

In a nine-page decision, state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens concluded that Kiryas Joel has greater "authority as the provider of water and sewer services" for the 507 acres that would be shifted into the village from Monroe under an annexation petition filed in December 2013. Most of the land is wooded and would likely be developed as high-density housing for the Hasidic community if annexed into Kiryas Joel.

The choice of which municipality would oversee the environmental review fell to Martens because both Monroe and Kiryas Joel wanted to be lead agency. As the dispute lingered for months with no resolution in Albany last year, property owners filed a second annexation petition comprising 164 of the 507 acres, and another group petitioned to annex 336 acres of Monroe into Blooming Grove. It's unclear how the DEC's determination on the original petition will affect the other two.

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