Woodbury’s village mayor has reacted coolly to a proposal to move 12.83 acres of vacant woodland to Kiryas Joel/Palm Tree.
The annexation proposal for a parcel off Seven Springs Road owned by developer Zigmund Brach was received by the village on July 20.
Mayor Timothy Egan said that he was skeptical about annexation proposals in principle because they result in the loss of tax revenue and harm the residents left behind who must pick up the burden.
“We still would have the same expenses,” the mayor said in an interview.
According to the annexation petition, the property is assessed at $46,800. It says that Brach’s 2 Seven Springs Estate, LLC. has paid $5,601.79 in property taxes in 2020 and 2021, $478.49 to the village.
Large lot zoning is ‘a hindrance’
Middletown attorney Ronald Kossar, who represents Brach, said in an interview that his proposal is a “standard annexation for very small piece of property,” and there is no reason it should be controversial.
He said that the lack of services available to the Woodbury property and its large-lot zoning have been “a hindrance” to the property rights of Brach, who had owned the land for many years.
Kossar said his client has “no definite plans” for his land, but he expects he will take advantage of Kiryas Joel development standards if the annexation goes through, which that could take up to a year.
Lead agency for environmental review
The Woodbury Village Board has declared itself to be the lead agency for the environmental review of the annexation, but Kiryas Joel could contest that, forcing the state Department of Environment Conservation choose a lead agency.
Kossar said that the normal procedure in annexations is for the recipient community to be designated lead agency and he would prefer that Kiryas Joel assume the role.
The annexation must be approved by the Village and Town of Woodbury, the Village of Kiryas Joel and the Town of Palm Tree.
The demand for housing
A split among the municipalities would throw the issue into the Appellate Division, Second Department, which would decide if the proposal is in the overall public interest, for example, to meet demand for housing.
Brach made an unsuccessful attempt almost a decade ago to annex his land to the Town of Monroe. According to the Times Herald-Record, Brach now is building 482 homes on land Kiryas Joel has since annexed from Monroe.
Brach, who has a home in Woodbury near the proposed annexation site, also is building a development in Monroe near Kiryas Joel and has a stake in the 600-acre Clovewood development under review in South Blooming Grove.
Brach, who prospered as a Brooklyn electronics dealer, was aligned with a dissident Kiryas Joel faction 20 years ago, but divisions in the village are not as stark as they were.