A town by any other name

KJ and United Monroe agree on boundaries for proposed Town of Palm Tree


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  • Map provided by the Village of Kiryas Joel Negotiators for the Village of Kiryas Joel and United Monroe have reached a compromise on the size and thus the boundaries of the proposed Town of Palm Tree (formerly North Monroe). What the two sides are proposing to the Orange County Legislature is a new municipality north of Route 17 that would include all of the Village of Kiryas Joel, the 164 acres that had been annexed into the village last year plus an additional 56 acres. When the petitions were filed last year, the amount of additional land was 382.




  • This is the logo for the Village of Kiryas Joel.



By Bob Quinn

— Negotiators for the Village of Kiryas Joel and United Monroe have reached a compromise on the size and thus the boundaries of the proposed Town of North Monroe.

What the two sides are proposing to the Orange County Legislature is a new municipality north of Route 17 that would include all of the Village of Kiryas Joel, the 164 acres that had been annexed into the village last year plus an additional 56 acres, for a total town of 940 acres.

When the petitions were filed last year, the amount of additional land was 382.

Kiryas Joel Village Administrator Gedalye Szegedin this week filed the paperwork detailing the boundaries and properties that would be included in the new town.

He also formally withdrew the name of the new town from North Monroe to the Town of Palm Tree. The palm tree is an important cultural and religious symbol.

United Monroe released a statement regarding the settlement Wednesday night.

“In order for each of our communities to live side by side in peace, compromise must be reached,” the statement from Emily Convers, John Allegro and Mike Egan reads. “By Kiryas Joel becoming their own Town, this removes the power and control Kiryas Joel has over the Town Board of Monroe, and allows the people of Monroe to pursue their own destiny.”

What’s nextThe Orange County Legislature has been meeting on the issue for months. A supermajority of the 21 lawmakers is needed to approve a referendum allowing all voters in the Town of Monroe and its three villages to decide on creating — or not — a new town. The Legislature must act by September in order to allow the referendum on November’s election.

Meanwhile, the Legislature will hold a public hearing for the purposes of soliciting public comments on Tuesday, Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Valley Elementary School Auditorium, 45 Route 32, Central Valley; and continuing it on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bais Rachel Paradise Hall, 5 Israel Zupnick Drive, Monroe.

Other issuesThere remains several issues to be decided.

There are lawsuits and appeals between Kiryas Joel, Orange County, a consortium of neighboring communities and the non-profit Preserve Hudson Valley.

In its statement, United Monroe wrote: “Preserve Hudson Valley is still in settlement discussions with Kiryas Joel in order to settle the law suits, and work towards a compromise. In the meantime, as the details and facts emerge, we ask that you keep an open mind and understand that hundreds of your fellow volunteer citizens have been working for fair government and representation over the past five years which has brought us to this crucial, and historic moment.”

“Again, the final negotiations for settlement of the litigation are not complete,” United Monroe said later in its statement. “However, Kiryas Joel swapping out the petition this week for the smaller acreage is a sign of their desire to make separation a reality.

How the Monroe-Woodbury School District will be affected by annexation — and now possibly by a new town — also remains unknown, at least publicly. Kiryas Joel Village and School District officials have repeatedly said the boundaries between the two school districts would be readjusted to match the municipality. That, many believe, is critical in preventing Monroe-Woodbury to become like the East Ramapo school district in Rockland County. A state monitor now oversees that district following the dismantling of programs students needed to graduate.

Again, United Monroe said in its statement:

“The Monroe Woodbury School District is protected and separate from Kiryas Joel today because of previous boards who understood the need to separate. This separation is no different.”

TaxesMeanwhile, Monroe Supervisor Harley E. Doles wrote in an email Thursday that the cost of annexation on Town taxes is about $1.7 million to $1.8 million annually.

“Monroe will lose forever millions of dollars in taxes,” Doles added. “KJ-North Monroe will gain that amount. We lose the taxes KJ pays and the burden, some argue, of the main group’s 5,500 to vote in Town Board election and gain 4,500 and growing voters from the unhappy group of KJ Alliance voters and new families moving into the region who will vote legally in not just Town Board elections but in MWSD Board elections as well.”

CompromiseUnited Monroe closed its statement acknowledging the circumstances:

“It’s unusual to see the leaders of United Monroe in agreement with Kiryas Joel on separation,” the group’s leaders wrote. “Many of us never thought we would see this day. But it is due to the hundreds of volunteers, thousands of voters, and hard work and activism which has brought the Kiryas Joel leaders to the table to compromise, something that has not happened before. We should all be very proud and hopeful. And again, the leaders of United Monroe ask that the citizens of Monroe and Woodbury and Blooming Grove reserve criticism until all details are made available, and until you have a full understanding of the necessity for separation. We thank you for your continued support and activism.”


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