Decision on sufficiency of petition
There has been presented to the undersigned a petition framed under the provisions of the Village Law of this State to form a new village within the bounds of the Town of Monroe. The name of the village is proposed to be Kiryas Joel, which roughly translated means the “Community of Joel.”
The petition was presented to me on November 8, 1976. Notice of the required public hearing on that petition was published in the Monroe Gazette on November 11th and November 18th, 1976.
The public hearing on the petition was held on December 2, 1976 in the basement of Garden Apartment #5 on Quickway Road in Section I of the Monwood Subdivision, the principal area of the village to be.
Before relating to the technical niceties of the petition and the objections thereto, the reasons for this new birth should somehow be set down so that present and future residents of this 177-year-old Town may know why there is now a third village in their midst.
This decision seems to be a most appropriate place to do so.
‘Desire and need ... for municipal services’
The traditional elements that underlie the self incorporation of a new municipality are principally the desire and need of residents of a more densely populated area for municipal services which in the past were usually not available at the hands of a Town or County.
The desired services were usually water supply, police protection, fire protection and sewer systems. The laws of this State have changed considerably in the last 50 years and all these services are now available through the Town, and in many cases are being supplied by both Town and Counties throughout the State.
Thus, the need for self-incorporation into villages has, for the most part, disappeared.
A cursory review of State records indicates that there have been only nine villages formed in the entire State since the end of World War II. The area to be included in this new village is now served by a town water and sewer district (privately maintained but subject to Town takeover).
It will shortly be incorporated into the operation of Orange County Sewer District #1.
It finds police protection from the nearby barracks of the New York State Police.
It has fire protection from the Mombasha Fire Company, the same Company that serves the Village of Monroe.
Its roads are more than adequately maintained by the Town of Monroe Highway Department and the area is subject to every Town wide protective ordinance or local law that this Town has enacted.
Why then is there a need to incorporate?
The answer to this question lies in the makeup of the individuals who will reside within this new village, should I approve this petition.
These residents are and will be all of the Satmar Hasidic persuasion. They dress, worship and live differently from the average Monroe citizen.
In and of itself these facts are of no moment. Perhaps the Satmar Hasidic manner of dress, means of worship and way of life are more noble than mine or the rest of Monroe’s citizenry.
That is not in issue.
However, the Satmar believe in large, close knit family units and sociological groups and are accustomed to a highly dense urban form of living, having for the most part been residents of Brooklyn in the City of New York since the end of World War II.
Furthermore, the sociological way of life for the Satmar Hasidic is one of distained isolation from the rest of the community. These factors are at the root of their need to incorporate.
‘The cry went up’
When the Satmar leadership chose Monroe as a future place of residence for some of their community, they purchased an already approved but unbuilt upon subdivision that lay within a rural, residential, low-density zoning district set aside for single family homes on 25,000 sq. ft. lots (R-150 district). This district also permitted 80 multiple units of garden apartments. This subdivision was and is still called “Monwood.” In constructing the dwellings in Monwood, the Town Board and the Town Building Department felt strongly that many of the dwellings were converted into two and some three family units and that dwellings under construction were being constructed for two and three units each.
We felt these conversions and new construction to be surreptitious and illegal and commenced legal proceedings to compel a reconversion and halt future residential construction until zoning conformance was had. It was a bitter contest opposed at every conceivable step by the Satmars. The legal contest virtually consummed this Town for five months and the cry went up from the other residents of this Town, particularly those of the Northeast area where the Monwood subdivision lies, to enforce our Zoning and Building Codes.
‘If I have to obey the Zoning Law ....’
The most salient observation was, “If I have to obey the Zoning Law, so do the Satmars”.
The Town Board never really understood the reason for the arduous opposition thrown up by the Satmar community to its code enforcement position but felt it lay buried deep in an economic reality that the business leaders could not market the dwellings to their membership unless the cost of maintaining them could be shared by two or three tenants (and their families), whether or not they were related in family groups or were no more than income tenants.
Perhaps zoning enforcement might have meant financial ruin for the Monwood business leaders.
We felt that those who actually bought or contracted to buy the dwellings had no idea of the Town’s zoning restrictions and were unsuspecting objects of the enforcement action.
We also felt that the Town’s enforcement position was a rallying point for the Satmar’s ingrained feeling of persecution against the Jewish faith. The more the Town sought to enforce, the more it was accused of persecuting the Hasidic Jews.
‘This fictitious ‘‘persecution’’ syndrome’
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The Satmars were and are welcomed in Monroe as any new group would be. Their customs were respected and accommodated. They received approval to build a large Synagogue on Forest Road, as well as a private educational complex and religious bath facility. A temporary bath was allowed as were the use of the basements in the garden apartments for schooling pending completion of the permanent facilities.
Indeed, there was no problem at all relative to the Satmars in Monroe until the zoning issue. Perhaps this fictitious “persecution” syndrome clouded the real issue more than anything else. It was an erroneous and distinctly unfair invective to toss at the Town’s zoning enforcement program.
At any rate the Town’s zoning position is well documented in the several law suits that arose in this controversy. (i.e., In the
Matter of the Application of Andrew W. Barone; Buchinger v. Moore; Schwartz v. DeAngelis; United Talmudic Association v. Town of Monroe; Monfield Homes, Inc. v. Moore; Hirsch v. Moore) and the several applications decided by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
At the height of the dispute the Satmars presented to me a petition to form a new village of very large dimensions which included many properties and people not of the Satmar belief. The Town Board felt that that attempt at self incorporation was a use of the Village Law to escape the accusing finger of the Town which would at the same time allow the Satmars to enact their own zoning laws designed to suit their economic and sociological needs.
The Town realized the strength of the Satmar move in that the Board was, by law, foreclosed from passing upon the public good - or lack of it - in forming such a village, yet (by a split vote) the Board decided to attack the very law that enabled the formation of a village without a decision by the Town from whence it would be carved upon the public good of such a creation.
At the same time a petition was presented to the Town Board and the Village of Monroe Board of Trustees by the Northeast property owners to annex land around the core of the Monwood subdivision into the Village of Monroe and to do so before action was taken on the new village application, thereby precluding the formation of the new village (a new village cannot be formed within the bounds of another).
This led to an attack on that proceeding in United States District Court by means of a “civil rights” suit (Schwartz, et al. v. DeAngelis), and that in turn led to compromise negotiations between the Satmar leadership and the residents of the northeast section of Town.
‘Compromise is ... distasteful’
After strenuous negotiations virtually all the Northeast property owners and the Satmar group agreed to the formation of a new village on a much smaller scale than originally proposed and one that would not include any one who did not want to be within its bounds. It was limited to 320+ acres owned by the Satmar community. The Town Board acquiesced in that agreement and the present petition is an outgrowth of that compromise.
To me, and I believe to the Town Board, the compromise is almost as distasteful as the dispute it settled. The Satmar Hasidim has taken advantage of an obviously archaic State statute to slip away from the Town’s enforcement program without the Town having the slightest possibility of commenting on the inappropriate reasons for formation of the new village. Were the village proposed prior to the accusations or after they were adjudicated, it would be a different matter, but to utilize the self incorporation procedure during the pendency of a vigorously litigated issue in which the Town has accused the Satmar community of serious and flagrant violations of its Zoning Law, is almost sinister and surely an abuse of the right of self incorporation.
I do not believe that the authors of the 106 year old Village Law ever dreamed it would be used for this purpose.
‘The law I am given to work with’
Be that as it may, I am left with the hollow provisions of the Village Law which allow me only to review the procedural niceties of the petition itself. Those niceties are politely set forth in Section 2-206 of the Village Law.
At the public hearing objections were raised as to the validity of the corporate signatures. The essence of the objection is that there is no certificate of authenticity evidencing the signators authority to sign and affix the corporate seal.
It is true, there is none.
It is also true that for the corporation “Monfield Homes, Inc., the owner of the bulk of the land within the territory, the signature itself is virtually illegible and it is not identified by a typewritten or printed name under the signature itself.
This is strange in that all the individual signators are so identified. Yet it is noted that the corporate seal for each corporation is affixed.
That in and of itself is a presumption that the signator had authority of the Board of Directors to sign and affix the seal (Section 107 Business Corporation Law).
Furthermore, the legislature did not require a certificate of authenticity when specifically setting down how the petition was to be executed (Section 2-202 Village Law). Any such certificate would be surplussage and would evidence proof more than is called for. There was no proof put forth at the hearing to rebut the presumption of Section 107 Business Corporation Law and the dictates of the statute were carried out.
I reject this objection.
The balance of the objections put forth at the hearing and outlined in the written objections of Lillian Roberts submitted at that hearing go to the questionable public interest of that proposal.
While the boundaries of the new village may be distorted and the property rights of the objectant somewhat endangered, I am foreclosed from entertaining or ruling on such objections. As much as I would like to deal with the public interest question of this proposal and how I feel that it will endanger an otherwise rural residential neighborhood of Monroe, by law, I cannot.
I therefore must reject these objections also.
Accordingly, I will approve the petition as I must within the limits of the law I am given to work with. With this approval I hope that a new era of well being will spring up between the Satmar community and the rest of Monroe and that the Satmar will realize that in order to survive at all in Monroe or elsewhere they must begin to adopt to some of the ways of life of the people in whose midst they have chosen to reside.
For the Satmars to believe that they are above or separate from the rules and regulations that Monroe has chosen to live by or try to impose their mores upon the community of Monroe, or to hide behind the self-imposed shade of secrecy or cry out religious persecution when there is none, will only lead to more confrontations as bitter as the one this decision purports to resolve.
I hope that will not be the case.
William C. Rogers
Supervisor, Town Of Monroe
December 10, 1976
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