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Viznitz distanced themselves New York Governor Kathy Hochul in the primary election, despite her personal visit to their Askanim during the heat of the race in a bid to gain their support.

In contrast, Skver and Satmar’s Aronim faction did strongly support Hochul in the general election race.

Hochul has now repaid both sides - but not as you might expect.

The Viznitz kehilla, located in Kiamesha Lake in the Catskills, is seeking to incorporate their own 1.5-square-mile village, to be known as "Village of Ateres."

The proposed community is expected to house over 500 residents, with the majority coming from the Chasidic community.

Two unrelated incidents have just occurred, advancing plans for this new village.

Earlier this year, the kehilla filed a petition for their proposal, asserting that it complies with the area requirements outlined in the New York Village Law, ensuring that the proposed village does not exceed five square miles.

At a public hearing held to address any objections to the legal sufficiency of the petition, Thompson Town Supervisor, Bill Rieber Jr. and Fallsburg Supervisor Kathy Rappaport found the petition to be valid, as, despite objections from the neighbors, they could only void 25 of the 99 signatures on the petition.

After clearing this first hurdle, the next step was to schedule a referendum for the roughly 320 adults currently living in the proposed village. That vote would have likely ushered into existence New York's newest municipality.

However, this planned referendum was halted due to a lawsuit.

Two homeowners, Steven Rivela and John Reeves, whose properties were included in the proposed village of Ateres, filed a lawsuit alleging that additional faults bring the valid signature total to fewer than the legal minimum of 65. Their two claims: 13 signers weren't registered voters and might not be qualified to vote in Thompson or Fallsburg in the referendum; and nine other signatures didn't match the ones on record for those voters and may have been forged.

Just weeks ago, the two property owners who brought the challenge each withdrew from it, one after the other - thus permitting the proposal to charge forward.

The second step forward came on Friday from Governor Kathy Hochul.

The population of 834 adults and children living in the Ateres area met one of the state's few requirements for forming a village: that it have at least 500 inhabitants.

Back in June, state lawmakers passed two bills that would update and expand village incorporation rules, including 1) raising the population threshold to 2,000 and; 2) requiring environmental and fiscal impact studies to show consideration for future water and sewer needs, road improvement costs or hiring new municipal employees.

Until now, all eyes were on the governor to see if she would sign these bills into law as either proposal could pose a new obstacle for Ateres and another Hasidic village proposed in neighboring Orange County. The village of Seven Springs proposal in the town of Monroe surfaced in 2018 and has been tied up in litigation.

The suspense ended this past Friday when Hochul signed both bills into law - but with amendments.

One revision stipulated the new village rules don't apply to any proposals already scheduled for a referendum as of Dec. 22 — the same date as the notice of election signed by the town clerks in Thompson and Fallsburg. This revision spared the Ateres petition.

Another amendment will lower the new population threshold to 1,500 from 2,000.

A voter referendum to approve or deny the application for Ateres is now scheduled for January 18. This newly scheduled vote is now expected to usher in the formation of the new village.

However, the quest to form the village of Seven Springs in the town of Monroe (which has been tied up in court for five years) could now be blocked by the new laws.

Seven Springs had 597 when the petitions were filed.

Both new laws subject all future village proposals to greater scrutiny. One law, sponsored by Sen. James Skoufis of Orange County, requires a study be done to measure the potential impact on local taxes, government finances and services.

The other, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers, goes further by creating a state commission to decide whether to allow a village referendum to proceed. That panel would conduct two separate studies of feasibility and impact.

“The Seven Springs fiasco, which would have proven an impossible lift for local taxpayers all so a couple of wealthy developers could make a buck, has come to an end,” Skoufis said in a statement.

Other proposed villages impacted by the new laws are Satmar’s Ichud in Sullivan County and Skver’s village in the old Homowack Hotel in Sullivan County.

Zev Tarkletaub, one of the organizers of Ateres, previously told the USA Today Network that residents sought that step mainly to enhance services that are important to the Hasidic community, such as sidewalks and streetlights for pedestrian safety. Having their own government would ensure those priorities are met, he argued.

He dismissed concerns that a new village with zoning control would foster excessive development, saying that residents moved to Sullivan for its rural character and don't want to live amidst dense housing.

Viznitz endorsed Hochul in the primary election. However, they distanced themselves from her in the general election race, despite that she personally visited their Askanim during the heat of the race in a bid to gain their support.

However, Skver and Satmar’s Aronim faction (which are both closely related to the proposed Seven Springs village) did strongly support Hochul in the general election race.

New York has 532 villages, most of which were created in the 1800s and early 1900s to provide services to growing areas. New ones are rare, with just six formed in the last 30 years and one of those already disbanded. Residents have voted 28 villages out of existence over those same three decades.

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Moishe said...

Not exactly. The Aronim did not want that competing village to be approved. She did them a favor by signing the bill.

Moishe Schwarzman said...

There is a dispute in KJ regarding the Seven Springs village proposal. Some want a separate village and some want to annex Seven Springs into KJ.

Hochul is supporting the efforts to annex it instead of the efforts to create a separate village.

Can someone fill me in? said...

In the Palm Tree agreement, leaders in Kiryas Joel had pledged not to request any land annexations for 10 years.

If the leaders are opposed to Seven Springs getting their own village, it would seem to me that they are stuck because they also previously agreed not to request such an annexation for 10 years ...