Maintain the problem or help find a solution?

Sep 3rd, 2017 | By | Category: Annexation, Editorial, Kiryas Joel, Orange County Politics, Times Herald Record

Orange County legislators will meet next week (Thursday, Sept 7th) to start the process for creating a new town and moving on to a new era.

Their vote will not establish the new Town of Palm Tree, composed of the present Village of Kiryas Joel and some surrounding land. That can be done only by the people directly affected, the residents of the Town of Monroe, in a referendum on Nov. 7. But before the town votes, the legislators must approve the referendum and they need to do so by a two-thirds majority with at least 14 of the 21 legislators in favor.

So how will they vote?

Those who like the idea of creating a new town, who have studied the details and come to the conclusion that this is a good plan, will obviously vote yes.

Those who have doubts, who are not sure that this is the best possible outcome also should vote yes for a different reason. If they believe in local control, as all of them say they do, then they should put that philosophy into action and give the people who live in the town the power to make this crucial decision.

Those who are opposed to the creation of the town are likely to vote no because if they can stop the referendum from being held in November, they stop this plan in its tracks. But before they cast that vote, they and their constituents need to ask what comes next. If the village lives on, with the land it has annexed allowing for some growth, with more land annexation likely to be approved by courts in the near future, with more village residents and families buying more houses and land in adjacent areas, what will be the effects on the town and the people in it, on the schools and the students in it?

A vote against the referendum is a vote for the status quo and you will not find anybody in public life — or, for that matter, very many in private life — who thinks that things are fine as they are and should stay that way.

Those who are opposed to the creation of the town and those on the Legislature who share that opinion are usually the most vocal critics of the situation now. While they have found fault with some of the details in the agreement that Monroe voters could be considering in November, they have offered no realistic alternatives, no other approach other than the tired and divisive litany of complaints that somebody is getting away with something and it has to stop.

The merits of the proposal that Monroe voters would face are clear. It ends the political clashes that have divided the region for decades. It defines the areas that would see new growth and imposes a 10-year moratorium on more annexation. It separates the two school districts to avoid the possibility of discord that has been so harmful in nearby Rockland County.

Monroe voters will have two months to debate and discuss the details. But first, county legislators must give them that opportunity and not just get in the way.

From the Times Herald Record – Sept 3, 2017

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