WURTSBORO – The Town of Mamakating and the Village of Bloomingburg held a joint public hearing in a tension filled town hall on March 15 to address an annexation petition brought up by the …
WURTSBORO – The Town of Mamakating and the Village of Bloomingburg held a joint public hearing in a tension filled town hall on March 15 to address an annexation petition brought up by the homeowner. The petition asked to annex a .92 acre lot into the Village, so his property on High Street could be under one municipality instead of two.
The homeowner was not present at the meeting but had a representative speak on his behalf. The representative stated that “everyone should be treated fairly” and it is unfair for the owner to have to deal with two municipalities to do work on his property. The representative described this as a “heavy hardship” and asked the board to approve the annexation.
Many residents spoke strongly about their disapproval of the annexation; not a single public comment supported the annexation. Many residents like Greg Ercolino spoke about corruption and conflict of interest. Ercolino stated that the previous annexation that led to the Chestnut Ridge development was illegal, and “the Town of Mamakating has been “irreparably damaged.” He also stated later that he did not want to see the town “cede not one more inch, not one more grain of sand” to Bloomingburg.
Greg Texter, who has lived in Mamakating for 38 years, asked “how will this benefit the town?...What is the intention for the land?...What will be the impact on town residents….and will [the owner] go outside of the town code?”
The representative for the homeowner came to the podium to respond to some of these questions. He stated that this annexation “is in the public interest of the town” as the town and the village should not be bound by each other’s decisions. He also stated that future plans were not verified yet, but the homeowner would be using it for residential purposes as the surrounding area is currently zoned for that purpose.
Chelsea Roth spoke about the drastic differences in vision between the two municipalities in terms of planning and zoning; she stated that Bloomingburg’s vision involves “rapidly urbanizing regardless of environmental impacts and building regulations, the town valuing our natural resources, historic identity and rural character as stated in the comprehensive plan.” She stated that it is not in the best interest of the town to annex the land due to this. Roth received a large round of applause after her comment.
Ted Brebbia suggested annexing the land into Mamakating instead of into Bloomingburg to avoid some of these concerns and to prevent any impact on the school tax revenue.
The next few residents showed concern that the zoning of the annexed land would be changed to allow high density housing. Mayor Russell Wood responded to Sal Genco’s question that the area in question is only zoned for single family housing and does not allow high density housing. Genco disregarded Wood’s response: “let’s be real. We’re talking about more high-density housing.” He continued to respond that this will only further the problem of water availability and the likelihood of production wells, which will affect everyone. He stated he didn’t understand why anyone would approve the petition.
Chris Leser stated that the house in question already has its own sewer and well, and that it only affects that house. He said he wasn’t siding one way or another but wanted to keep the facts straight.
A resident on Zoom later identified as Hunter said that it was clear to him that this annexation’s purpose was to bypass regulation that the town has. He continued that it may be true that the current zoning was for single family housing, but there is nothing stopping the zoning from changing in the future.
Jimmy Brennan on Zoom stated that the homeowner knew this about the property when he bought it, and if it was a problem, then he should not have bought it. Brennan also expressed concern about Bloomingburg’s building mimicking the building in Monroe causing residents to be pushed out. Brennan asked the board to be cautious as this “may be the beginning of something larger.”
Susan McGloughlin on Zoom echoed Brennan’s sentiments and warned the board that approving the annexation will “set a dangerous precedent for future annexations.” Kathy Genco stated that there are a lot of negatives, “and there is no solid reason why she should allow this.”
Genco asked when the board would vote and if the public would know which councilman voted for the annexation. Town Attorney Benjamin Gailey stated that the board would vote publicly, and all information would be available through the minutes with the Town Clerk. Town Supervisor Mike Robbins stated that the board would vote at the next town meeting. Mayor Wood announced that the Board of Trustees would vote at their next meeting on April 17.
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