Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Goshen Receives FOIL Request from Kiryas Joel on LEGOLAND 

An Albany law firm has submitted a request for all documentation relating to LEGOLAND as the amusement park seeks a zoning change for property it is looking to develop in the Town of Goshen.

The law firm, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, LLP, said in its Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request it represented the Village of Kiryas Joel and asked for records like "originals and drafts of all laws, regulations, ordinances, procedures, correspondence, memoranda, emails, decisions, handwritten or other notes, meeting minutes and/or agendas" of the proposed LEGOLAND project.

While Town Supervisor Doug Bloomfield said he does not know what to make of the request, it is not unprecedented.

The Village has sought to involve itself in zoning changes at the former Camp La Guardia property, owned by the Village and Town of Blooming Grove and the Village of Chester, and has sued the Town of Woodbury over its comprehensive zoning plan, arguing it did not have enough affordable housing in it.

The Village of Kiryas Joel is a predominantly Hasidic community in the Town of Monroe that has been trying to annex a portion of the town for its growing population. In the county's 2010 Comprehensive Plan, it calls Kiryas Joel "one of the fastest growing villages east of the Mississippi River."

It is also among the poorest villages in the county, according to the Comprehensive Plan, which could be why it is interested in affordable housing.

The village's high-density housing has been a source of conflict with its neighbors who complain it clashes with the bucolic, open landscape of the Town, and Hasidic developers have faced opposition over housing developments in other parts of the county and in neighboring counties over this issue.

Goshen Town Attorney Richard Golden said there is no law that requires a municipality to have a certain amount of affordable housing, but there is a precedent set in the courts, called common law, which they could use in a lawsuit.

Because there is no set criteria on how much affordable housing a municipality has to have, the Town is using the county's Regional Housing Needs Assessment Plan, which gives affordable housing benchmarks for each municipality, to gauge its progress in that area.

Golden said last time they looked at the Comprehensive Plan, the Town was meeting its goals.

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