From United Monroe
Town Board Meeting Synopsis- Monday, January 27th.
Thanks to all who showed up last night, waited in the cold to get in the building, held signs, and passionately stood strong for our community.
There were around 300 people present at the meeting. There were 4 armed security guards present. One guard was stationed at the door with a clicker counting citizens as they entered.
Before the meeting, Harley Doles announced that the board would adjourn to another room to discuss the legal issues of annexation with their attorney prior to starting the meeting. The meeting began after 7:30pm.
The house was jam packed. County Legislators Myrna Kemnitz and Mike Anagnostakis, Village of Monroe Mayor Jim Purcell, Village of Monroe Trustee Irene Conklin, Village of Harriman Mayor Steve Welle and Harriman Trustee Bruce Chichester were all present to support their constituents.
Once the meeting commenced, Doles saw fit to call out to see if anyone from the County Executive’s office was present to come forward (we have confirmation that Steve Neuhaus had already informed Doles that he could not attend), therefore, Doles started off the meeting on the usual disingenuous, manipulative foot he always operates from. He then introduced the current planning board attorney, Michael Donnelly, who the board decided to retain for the SEQRA review process. Doles then, oddly, shouted out to the crowd asking if any planning board or ZBA members were present to vouch for Donnelly. Planning Board member and United Monroe justice candidate, Audra Schwartz stood up and stated that although she felt that attorney Donnelly’s ethics are beyond reproach, she does not know if he is experienced with annexations.
Donnelly then spoke about the different options for lead agency. He stated that his recommendation is for co-lead agency status, meaning that the Town of Monroe AND the Village of Kiryas Joel will both have lead agency status. The crowd erupted at this point in frustration. Donnelly continued by explaining that if the Town Board were to take on lead agency status, KJ would sue and most likely the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) would rule in favor of KJ being lead agency. Doles piped up about there being 7 cases in the law where this was the outcome- the petitioner being favored when there is a dispute about lead agency. Counsel Donnelly then stated that he had not seen these seven cases, but it’s his understanding that this would be the ruling. Whether or not there is merit to this conclusion, the people of Monroe have stood up and asked the Town Board to take on lead agency. Once again, the Town Board refused to listen. The crowd was vocal and frustrated.
Doles took several recesses during the course of the meeting in order to calm the anger in the room. Doles stated aloud that Superintendent of the MW School District was present and he invited him to speak, not before interrogating him and blathering on and on about what he expected Superintendent Mehrhof to address when he was to speak. Mehrhof spoke well and indicated that the School district, because of the financial impact this annexation would surely have on the resources of the district, have standing to be an interested party in this annexation and that the school district should be granted lead agency. Mehrhof then handed the floor to the MW School District counsel, Pettigrew, who elaborated on Mehrhof’s statement, explaining in detail the effects of this annexation to the community. Both were met with resounding applause. After they spoke, Doles began what could only be described as ravings of a man so deluded by his own power and probably in fear of the regime who hold him under their thumb, that he failed to complete a coherent sentence. Instead, he repeatedly used the words- If we prevail, or if you prevail…thereby cementing the notion that the board is fully on board with annexation and has positioned themselves in opposition to the school district. After the district representatives took their seats, the Town Board voted unanimously in favor of determining CO-LEAD AGENCY along with the Village of Kiryas Joel moving forward with the SEQRA process.
Present at this meeting was Chris McKenna of the Times Herald Record, John Haughey of Mid Hudson News, Bob Quinn of the Photo News and News 12.
After the lead agency decision was made, most of the audience departed and the Town Board resumed the regular meeting after a recess.
During the departmental monthly reports, Anthony Rizzo, elected Highway Superintendant spoke about what he considered an error in the classification of a job description. The friction between Rizzo and the Board was palatable.
The Conservation Commission Chair approached the table to give his Commission’s report. John Ebert, the Commission’s Chair spoke directly to the board, having submitted his report, asking that the Board take on lead agency in this matter. Here’s a quote from the Mid Hudson News: “John Ebert, who said of 141 signatures on the petitions, only 112 are “properly witnessed,” calling for “some due diligence” in ensuring the veracity of the names on the petitions.
Ebert, whose committee encouraged the town board to seek sole lead-agency status, said the 507 acres represent 18.25 percent of 2,277 remaining “developable acres” identified in the town’s 2008 comprehensive plan update. “Eighteen percent of our potentially developable land is a significant chunk of change,” he said.”
The 60 or so people left in the room applauded enthusiastically when Ebert finished his statement. Up until this point, Doles had kept a cool head. Now, he blew a gasket. He began shouting at Ebert, a mild mannered, soft spoken man, and started to blame the county legislature and anyone else he could think of for the lax regulations in order to deflect blame. Doles, who fancies himself a true democrat, didn’t like being challenged by the Conservation Commission and had what clearly amounted to an adult tantrum (please watch the video when it’s posted).
The final point of interest was the board’s resolution to open the movie theater as a performing arts center and movie theater. Doles mentioned that Slobod, after hearing their intention and resolve not to use the building for town offices, will surely dismiss this case and then they will create this arts center. Councilman Colon at this point asked “Can we rent out the space to show movies” to which the Attorney jumped in and stated “You will have a conflict with the bond, so no, you may not do that”. The bond (or loan) acquired in order to make this purchase had to specifically state the purpose or use of the building. Opening a movie theater was not the use listed in the bond application for the loan obtained. The Town Board should never have made such a resolution, but, what else is new?
Thanks to all who patiently read this synopsis, and thanks to all who attended last nights’ meeting. Let’s make last night’s attendance a regular occurrence. We have a plan, and we will share it with you soon. Please stay active, and please donate to the legal fund at UnitedMonroe.org.
For photos visit our Facebook page Kiryas Joel Village
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