Cuomo Vetoe Sets Stage for Kiryas Joel Annexation

Assemblyman Skouflis, seen here in 2015, had his bill vetoed by Governor Cuomo earlier this year.

Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday vetoed a bill giving county planning departments the power to review annexation proposals. The bill was meant to prevent the Kiryas Joel community from expanding into the neighboring town of Monroe.

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman James Skoufis represents Orange County, in which Monroe and Kiryas Joel are based. (The Senate version was introduced by another Orange County representative, William J. Larkin.)

Skoufis may feel some déjà vu, as Cuomo vetoed a similar bill from Skoufis, A7639, last year.

Last week, before Cuomo vetoed the newest version, Skoufis told Spectrum that he had concerns about annexations such as Kiryas Joel’s. “These especially large potential land transfers that have to do with water and sewer and other impacts, they very well could affect areas beyond just the immediately to be annexed properties,” he said.

In a press release made after the latest veto, Skoufis defended his intentions.

“Residents in Orange County have seen for themselves what can happen with over-reaching annexation petitions,” Skoufis said. “My legislation is the right thing to do and would inject much-needed oversight into what happens in our own backyards.”

Skoufis also criticized the Governor’s veto as “politically-driven.” He may be referring to the political power that the highly organized Kiryas Joel community wields, though it has economic power as well. The Yeshiva World News reported that individuals tied to Kiryas Joel donated over $250,000 to Cuomo’s campaign.

For his part, Cuomo described the veto as perfunctory since he’d already vetoed Skoufis’s earlier bill which, he said, would have violated constitutional prohibitions on county authority. “The language in the current bill violates the same constitution principles,” he said.

09/30/2016 3:00 PM by David Kinzer

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