How did we get here?

| 02 Nov 2017 | 05:16

MONROE — Perhaps it’s not quite to the level of the occasionally spoken and parodied phrase, “it was a dark and stormy night,” but the events of that midnight-darkened Nov. 15, 2012 evening are considered by many to be the genesis of a five-year storm which culminates on Nov. 7 with a public referendum on the creation of a new Orange County town called Palm Tree.
In this five-year period, a grass roots movement was born.
The movie theater’s purchase and the annexation requests were the catalysts that awakened a community; changed Town of Monroe politicas; encouraged people to get involved and become community organizers; challenged government actions; proved that agreements can be reached; and demonstrated why voting matters.
Now, a deal has been struck which seemingly addresses the needs of Kiryas Joel to have additional land to build high-density housing for its growing population, minimizes the amount of land parcels to be annexed to the satisfaction of those who negotiated the pact on behalf of the Town of Monroe and places a 10-year moratorium on any additional annexation requests.
The issues which continue to be front and center include: community and political leadership; high-density housing versus a more suburban/rural housing environment; peaceful coexistence among different cultures; religion; school district boundary adjustments, related legal and financial issues and much more.
United Monroe, the grass roots movement now in its fourth year, whose leadership was part of the negotiation process, is hopeful those issues and the results of recent close elections will drive people to come vote on the separation referendum. Supporters hope that voters will see a fair deal was reached.
Opponents remain angry and question United Monroe’s motives, the motives of Kiryas Joel leadership and have concerns with tax implications to town residents and school district residents if the referendum passes.
Ongoing arguments and debate continues. Next Tuesday, the voices of voters will be heard.
Here’s a look back at how the idea of creating the Town of Palm Tree came to be: