Schmitt proposes higher thresholds to form new villages

Assemblyman Colin Schmitt said Thursday he plans to introduce a bill in response to a proposed new village in Monroe that would raise the minimum population and percentage of petition signers needed in New York to create a village.

Schmitt, a New Windsor Republican, said he’ll propose raising the population threshold to 2,000 from 500 and require that at least 51 percent of the area’s residents sign the village petition, rather than 20 percent. He wants to eliminate an alternative requirement in state law that the owners of at least 20 percent of the land in the proposed village sign the petition for it to be valid.

“The outdated law that controls the process of creating a new village needs to be amended and modernized,” Schmitt said in a press release. “This simplified process lacks a system of checks and balances and can be easily exploited by a small group of individuals or land owners.”

Hasidic property owners have proposed creating a 1.7-square-mile village next to Kiryas Joel that would incorporate most of the remaining land in northern Monroe that is not already part of a village. A petition signed by 116 residents was submitted to the Town of Monroe in August and became eligible for consideration last week with the withdrawal of a conflicting court case.

The petition indicated 597 people live in the proposed Village of Seven Springs, which includes a Hasidic neighborhood west of Kiryas Joel and large tracts of undeveloped land.

Monroe Supervisor Tony Cardone must determine if the petition met legal requirements and either reject it as flawed or schedule a referendum for residents of the proposed village.

Schmitt said he also wants to change state law to extend such referendums to the entire town in which a village has been proposed.

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