Friday, October 14, 2016

KJ leaders feel vindicated by ruling 

Kiryas Joel leaders on Thursday claimed vindication in a court ruling that upheld a 164-acre expansion of their village, saying in a short statement that they hope "that the comprehensiveness of this decision might bring an end to the legal challenges."

State Supreme Court Justice Gretchen Walsh issued a 96-page decision two days earlier that rejected all legal claims brought by Orange County, eight municipalities and the nonprofit Preserve Hudson Valley in two separate cases to invalidate Kiryas Joel's annexation of land from the Town of Monroe. The leaders of the Satmar Hasidic community were unavailable to comment when the decision became available on Wednesday, because they were observing the Yom Kippur holiday.

Their short statement on Thursday merely noted that Walsh had determined that the annexation process complied with the law and that the village had done "a complete and reasonable review of potential environmental impacts from the alteration of the municipal boundary" — a point that plaintiffs in the two lawsuits had strongly contested.

The ruling will soon give Kiryas Joel control of the 164 acres, unless the plaintiffs appeal and win an injunction to preserve Monroe's jurisdiction while the appeal is pending. No appeal decisions have been made.

Kiryas Joel has a separate case of its own pending in the Appellate Division to annex 507 acres from Monroe through an earlier petition that the Monroe Town Board rejected. That annexation area consists of the 164 acres in the case that Kiryas Joel won, plus 343 additional acres in the surrounding area.

In response to the court ruling, Monroe-Woodbury School District leaders issued a statement saying they will meet with Kiryas Joel School District officials to discuss "the advisability of modifying our mutual boundaries and its impact on our taxpayers," referring to the possibility of enlarging Kiryas Joel School District to take in the annexation area. "The district will continue sharing information with our Monroe-Woodbury families as decisions are made and plans progress," reads the statement from Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez and school board President Jon Huberth.

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