'The final vote is yours'

| 05 Oct 2017 | 01:59

    Today, the Town of Monroe has a fatal structural flaw.
    The residents of Kiryas Joel aspire to a quality of life virtually opposite that of the rest of our town’s residents. While those living in KJ seek urban-style living, multi-family residences and send most kids to private schools, outside the village we cherish our suburban and semi-rural surroundings, single family homes, and well-respected public schools.
    For years, this clash of aspirations has caused a struggle for control of town government and its authority over annexations, zoning, hiring, and board appointments. The result has too often been stalemate and dysfunction. And, due to KJ’s rapid growth, the battle to elect our Town Board is no longer a fair fight. KJ’s monolithic voting bloc cannot be overcome.
    However, a solution is within our grasp. Because their annexation attempts were stymied by widespread grassroots activism and multiple litigations led by United Monroe and Preserve Hudson Valley, Kiryas Joel’s leadership is also weary of fighting. To nearly everyone’s surprise, these bitter opponents did the unimaginable by negotiating a peace treaty by which the village and just 56 acres would move out of Monroe into the new town of Palm Tree and no longer vote in Monroe’s elections. Separation would give Monroe political independence like that long enjoyed by all of our neighbors.
    This peace treaty also offers a better way forward for southern Orange County. It ends litigations and their legal fees. It prohibits annexations of land from Monroe and Blooming Grove for at least 10 years. It’s started conversations between KJ and Woodbury that already have produced a lawsuit settlement agreement.
    Creation of Palm Tree requires the approval of four groups. Three have already been achieved. In August, the respective Boards of Education of the Monroe-Woodbury and Kiryas Joel school districts each unanimously voted yes to change their boundaries to protect the M-W district. On September 7, the Orange County Legislature voted yes in a landslide of 18–3.
    The final vote is yours, on election day, November 7th, when all of Monroe’s voters get the last word in a town-wide referendum.
    Let us not miss this unique opportunity to fix our structural flaw. It is highly unlikely a separation opportunity like Palm Tree will come again. More probably, if this is rejected, KJ will conclude it has no choice but to take control of Monroe’s Town Board again and for all time, giving itself the authority to rezone and populate the town’s 13,000 acres as it deems necessary for its aspirations.
    The concerned citizens who would eventually form United Monroe came together for the first time late in 2012, beginning what became a five-year campaign to take back our Town Board from KJ’s bloc vote and return it to citizens committed to representing the interests of all of Monroe. Please vote yes on Palm Tree and finish the job.
    Michael Egan
    35-year Monroe resident
    Co-founder, United Monroe and Preserve Hudson Valley