Kiryas Joel selected by DEC to be lead agency in annexation


ALBANY – State Environmental Conservation
Commissioner Joseph Martens has designated the Board of Trustees of the
Village of Kiryas Joel as lead agency for the review of a proposed annexation
of some 510 acres of land from the Town of Monroe.

His decision dated Wednesday, January 28 is based on his finding that
the village board “has the broadest governmental powers for investigation
of the impact(s) of the proposed actions and hence greater capacity to
review impacts of development that may be a consequence of annexation.”
Lead agency status was also requested for the DEC, Monroe-Woodbury School
District and Orange County. Lead agency status was also requested for
the DEC, Monroe-Woodbury School District and Orange County. County Executive
Steven Neuhaus maintains, though, that the county should be designated
lead agency “for all large annexations which would expand a municipal
border by 10 percent or more and would have such a massive impact on local
resources.” He said the state legislature should “give counties
a definitive role in this process.”

The property proposed for annexation consists of 177 tax lot parcels in
seven cluster groups with more than half appearing to be unimproved. A
total of 462 acres contain forested and agricultural lands, water features
and wetlands.

Martens said he received many letters of concern requesting that neither
the town board of village board be selected based on the possible motivations
of each municipal body. “In past lead agency disputes involving
annexations, the commissioner has indicated that a municipality’s
possible motivation is not relevant to resolution of the dispute,”
he wrote.

Opponent of the annexation maintain village fathers plan on using the
land to double the size of the village and its population.

Martens’ decision does not change or diminish the jurisdiction of
the Monroe Town Board in its role as an involved agency and issues identified
by the town board must be considered in the review of the project, he
said. Substantive issues raised by interested parties, including the school
districts, should also be included in the review.

The commissioner also reminded KJ officials that they have committed to
an enhanced and transparent coordinated review including public scoping
sessions, web posting of documents and a SEQR hearing on the draft generic
environmental impact statement.



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