Goshen, NY – Orange County lawmakers voted unanimously last night to support a second lawsuit against Kiryas Joel to challenge the environmental review for the village’s proposed pipeline to the Catskill Aqueduct.
County Executive Ed Diana announced last week, as a public hearing and Legislature vote on the issue were looming, that he planned to file a suit, so the 20-0 vote was a purely symbolic show of support for that decision.
Litigation filed by the county in 2004 forced Kiryas Joel to elaborate on four parts of its environmental review but allowed the village to do so with no further public comment.
Opponents contended the amendments made this year were inadequate and pressed for a second suit.
Legislators listened to two hours of arguments in support of a suit at a hearing in Central Valley Monday night, (as was reported here on VIN News), and heard another round of public comments before voting.
Sheila Conroy of Woodbury reiterated her arguments that Kiryas Joel has underestimated its rapid population growth to play down the “tsunami” of sewage it will send to the county treatment plant if it’s allowed to tap New York City’s water supply.
“Supplying inaccurate responses just to say that it is done does not satisfy the intent of the court decision or SEQRA,” Conroy said, using the acronym for the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
“Honest answers need to put out for all to look at,” she added.
Jonathan Swiller, leader of a Woodbury citizens group called OCEAN, argued that allowing the amended review to pass without scrutiny means that “anything filed, a still-deficient document such as we have here, a phone book, a blank sheet of paper, must be accepted. That is absurd.”
When it came time to vote, even Michael Amo, who represents Kiryas Joel on the Legislature, supported a lawsuit, saying, “Let’s let the courts make that decision if it will satisfy people, and then let’s move on.”
Diana has until July 31 to file the suit, which will be funded with money left from the $250,000 lawmakers authorized in 2004 to challenge the pipeline study. His office said in 2007 that the county had spent $126,806 on an outside firm that handled the case.