Prelude to the vote on separation

| 05 Oct 2017 | 02:20

— The first of two public information sessions regarding Town of Palm Tree will take place Wednesday, Oct. 11, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Town of Monroe Arts & Civic Center on Millpond Parkway.
A second session will take place the following Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The hearings are a prelude to the town wide referendum on Nov. 7 asking all residents of Monroe, including those living in Harriman, Kiryas Joel and Monroe, whether the Village of Kiryas Joel, plus 164-acres acquired through annexation, plus an additional 56 acres in the town, should separate and become a distinct town of its own.
The Town of Palm Tree would hold its own elections and make its own appointments to a planning and zoning board.
Supporters believe this will mitigate the KJ voting bloc in Monroe town elections while giving Kiryas Joel’s Hasidic community the land it needs for its growing population.
The Orange County Legislature approved the referendum following an agreement forged between Kiryas Joel and United Monroe (details of that agreement follows).
Should the referendum be approved, the Town of Palm Tree would open in January 2020. Assemblyman James Skoufis is pushing legislation that would speed up that timetable and mitigate some of the financial impact that the Monroe-Woodbury School District may face.
At the heart of the forums will be the details of how such a separation will impact the town, the village and school districts, particularly through taxes. The Town of Monroe has hired an accounting firm to determine its costs, for instance.
Residents are asked to submit their questions prior to the meetings by the following dates:
People are asked to submit their questions in writing to the Monroe Town Clerk. Those looking to speak at this coming Wednesday sessions must do so by today, Oct. 6.
The deadline for written questions for Oct. 18 session is Oct. 13.
The panel, to be moderated by Monroe Town Councilman Mike McGinn, will include representatives from the villages of Kiryas Joel, Harriman and Monroe, the Monroe-Woodbury and Kiryas Joel school districts, the Town of Monroe, County Executive Steven Neuhaus and Emily Convers, co-founder of United Monroe and Preserve Hudson Valley.
- Bob Quinn