Miele’s Musings — Revisiting the Village

Years ago, there was a movement to incorporate Nanuet into a village. Concerns included better control of the local tax base for planning and development, which would benefit the quality of life, health, and welfare of all Nanuet residents. I think now is the time to revive this movement.

For many years, the unincorporated hamlet of Nanuet has been just a money-making territory for the Town of Clarkstown. The cost of keeping the Town afloat, with all of its waste, is Nanuet’s burden. When it comes to planning in Nanuet, the only thing Clarkstown is interested in is more taxes. If anything, this is only getting worse. As a village, Nanuet can establish its own planning and zoning boards, and control its own destiny, growth, and environment.

The New York Department of State publishes the Local Government Handbook. Nowadays, you can get it online: http://www.dos.ny.gov/lg/publications/Local_Government_Handbook.pdf. Among other things, the Handbook explains how a village is incorporated and how it might be run. The incorporation process begins with a referendum for the residents of the territory to be incorporated. Only those living within the proposed area of incorporation may vote in the referendum. The territory must have a minimum population of 500, and be contained in a maximum area of 5 square miles, unless the proposed boundaries are the same as an existing school, fire, postal, or other type of district. Zoning restrictions are put in place to promote the health, safety, morals or general welfare of the community.

Nanuet wants a more equitable distribution of services for the taxes it pays. Our school district gets very little state aid, because we are considered “affluent.” Clarkstown schools get more aid, because the Town is considered to be a depressed area. So Nanuet’s commercial tax base builds up a tax base for all of Clarkstown, yet at the same time Nanuet’s raises its own school taxes because it does not benefit from the support offered by the state.

If incorporated, the Village of Nanuet would have the largest tax base in Rockland County, but residents would have more say in how those taxes are spent. The tax money generated in the boundaries of the village alone could reduce residents’ current town taxes. There would be money left over for school taxes. Clarkstown would not be able to waste our tax money so easily.

Charlie Holbrook, then-Supervisor of Clarkstown, opposed the incorporation of Nanuet in 1985, and again in 1996. Politics also intervened to sabotage the effort. First, a Democrat leading the move to incorporate was bought out with an offer for nomination to run for Legislator. A leading Republican supporter was also offered a nomination to run for Legislator. And the third and last leader standing was wooed away by an offer to serve on the Town Council. Three strikes and we were out.

This was how badly Clarkstown wanted to keep control of the Nanuet tax base. They keep that control to this day, without offering any improvement or gratitude to the hamlet that funds the whole town.

Listen to the rhetoric against incorporation, and pay attention to who speaks it. Remember, before you draw any conclusion, know the facts, then come to your own, honest opinion. Don’t you want decisions about Nanuet to be made by someone from Nanuet?

For another example of how Clarkstown uses its residents, consider West Nyack. Most residents were against the Pyramid Mall, yet the Town Board steamrolled them. You know why? The mall was not in the Board members’ back yard! This would be the difference with making Nanuet a village. Residents would live with their own decisions, not someone else’s.

The best parts of the Town of Ramapo are the villages. Homeowners take pride in their property and their neighborhoods. They feel they have some control. They want to be part of their communities. Nanuet residents should have this as well. Nanuet taxes should go to the best service for our residents.


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