Brabenec, Skoufis support Palm Tree proposal

Two assemblymen from opposite parties and neighboring districts both voiced their support for separating Kiryas Joel from Monroe by forming a new town before the Orange County Legislature voted on the proposal on Thursday.

Karl Brabenec, the Deerpark Republican whose district includes Monroe, emailed his statement just as the Legislature began its 7 p.m. meeting, apparently anticipating the approval that came later in an 18-3 vote.

“I have long advocated that separation of the residents of Kiryas Joel into a new town was a solution that should be explored, and I am glad that the leaders on both sides of the issue sat down and have come to an amicable agreement, Brabenec wrote. “The creation of the Town of Palm Tree for the people of Kiryas Joel will allow self government for both the people of Monroe and the people of Kiryas Joel, and will mitigate the differences and disagreements between them. Following a yes vote tonight the destiny of both Monroe and KJ will be in the hands of the voters, and I wholeheartedly endorse such a result.”

James Skoufis, the Woodbury Democrat who represents the neighboring 99th Assembly District, spoke emphatically in favor of Palm Tree during the public comments that preceded the vote at the county Emergency Services Center. He made the case that legislators were voting not only on the Palm Tree petition before them but on concessions Kiryas Joel made in negotiations with the United Monroe citizens group that were contingent on the town’s creation. Village officials had agreed to forgo efforts to annex land from Monroe and Blooming Grove for 10 years and drop their court case to try to annex 507 acres from Monroe.

Skoufis said that though the deal wasn’t perfect, the prudent vote for the Legislature was to let the proposal advance to a referendum in Monroe.

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