Monroe Moratorium Passes; Doles Abstains

Board votes in favor of 90-day "building pause" to review town code
By Yvonne Marcotte, Epoch Times
April 27, 2016 8:11 pm Last Updated: April 27, 2016 10:49 pm

MONROE—The Town Board of Monroe at their regular meeting on April 25 voted in favor of a 90-day building moratorium to review the town’s Comprehensive Plan. Town Supervisor Harley Doles abstained because he stated that he did not receive key documents in a timely manner.

After the moratorium resolution was read by Town Attorney Dennis Lynch, Councilman Gerard McQuade Jr. asked for an executive session before the vote to discuss possible lawsuits from lawyers representing builders and others who opposed the moratorium.

McQuade said he was most concerned about a letter from the law firm Dechert LLP. Attorney Steven Engel from the firm stated Dechert represents some concerned Hasids and developers.

Engel’s letter hinted legal action if the moratorium goes through. “And we urge the Board to reject this unconstitutional moratorium. Barring that, our clients are prepared to pursue their legal rights to the full extent of the law.”

After a five-minute executive session, board members returned for the vote. All councilmen voted in favor of the moratorium. Doles spoke last and abstained. He was met with laughter by the gallery. “I was not given the opportunity to discuss with counsel nearly 60-some odd pages regarding threats of lawsuits on behalf of the developers and others.”

In light of the record and potential liability here, we advise that the Town and its Board carefully discuss these issues
— Steven Engel, attorney whose firm represents some in the Hasid community and developers

Engel’s letter stated: “In light of the record and potential liability here, we advise that the Town and its Board carefully discuss these issues and the proposed moratorium with their insurance carrier before taking any action that might expose the Board to liability.”

The Board discussed feedback from David Church, commissioner of the Orange County Department of Planning, who recommended a longer moratorium. He stated in his written comments that moratoriums can last as long as a year for most municipalities. Church offered demographic and mapping technical assistance to assist the town in its analysis and review. 

The board meeting was observed by a full house that interrupted proceedings with frequent outbursts. Councilmen Tony Cardone and Mike McGinn spoke to the gallery several times to ask for quiet.

Lynch advised the Board before their vote that such action is entirely legal in New York. “Moratoriums should be no longer in duration than is required to bring about meaningful long-term solutions to the problems for which they have been enacted,” Church stated.

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