Kiryas Joel annexation oversight bill awaiting governor’s signature

A bill which would introduce greater oversight to a proposed expansion of the Village of Kiryas Joel in Orange County passed both houses of the State Legislature Tuesday and awaits a signature from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The annexation process, a highly-controversial effort to expand the predominantly Orthodox Jewish municipality which has been criticized as rushed without proper scrutiny, would add extra layers of oversight by allowing county planning departments to review specific annexation petitions and submit an approval or disapproval to a municipality. If the municipality wishes to override a disapproval it would require a super-majority vote of four out of five members of every affected municipal board.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman James Skoufis in the Assembly and Sen. Bill Larkin in the Senate, met with overwhelming support in both houses. The bill passed 44-18 in the Senate before the Tuesday Assembly vote of 110-33.

A similar bill now pending in the Assembly after a 46-16 approval in the Senate will also address the controversy by allowing state officials to consider municipalities’ environmental records when settling lead-agency disputes over environmental conflicts.

[UPDATE — Cuomo vetoed both bills]

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