KIRYAS JOEL - Orange County officials say they have approved sewer connections for 62 homes in Kiryas Joel, the first measure of relief for developers and home buyers in the village since the county suspended sewer permits for a deluge of pending units in November.
But the bulk of the applications - for some 3,348 new homes - remain on hold until larger sewer mains are installed to handle the added wastewater, county officials confirmed on Wednesday.
One of those projects involves replacing a pipeline in Monroe that bears the combined flow from Kiryas Joel’s two trunk lines. The developer of Veyoel Moshe Gardens, the 1,600-unit condo complex being built across Nininger Road from the State Police barracks in Monroe, agreed to pay the full $4.8 million cost for the larger pipe, which will be part of the county-run sewer system.
That pipe work has been approved and “is being mobilized,” Robert Gray, a deputy county public works commissioner, told the Times Herald-Record by email. The remaining improvements, including replacements for the two Kiryas Joel trunk lines, are still being designed, he said.
Gray said the county had granted the 62 permits after studying for two months the impact of new water conservation measures and other steps taken in Kiryas Joel to control wastewater flow.
“These connections were permitted as a result of an increase in available capacity in the sewer lines,” he said.
Kiryas Joel Administrator Gedalye Szegedin didn’t respond to requests for comment. He had strongly protested the permit freeze last year, arguing the county had effectively blocked the completion of new homes in the growing community.
The county stopped issuing permits and had engineers study Kiryas Joel’s sewer lines after an overflow in the village last August signaled that larger pipes may be needed. County and village officials have since disputed which side should have anticipated the problem and whether the developers or sewer-system users should pay for new pipes.
County officials insist the developers must pay, not ratepayers in the eight towns and villages that use the county’s sewage treatment plant in Harriman. To encourage developers to pay, the county has proposed a law to let builders reserve sewer service for their projects if they have paid for pipe replacements.
“We’re saying, ’if the developer builds pipeline then they get use of that pipeline first,’” County Attorney Langdon Chapman explained to lawmakers on Wednesday during an online committee meeting.
Legislator Peter Tuohy, R-Monroe, who leads a separate panel that has been studying major sewer upgrades, told committee members that mayors and supervisors in the sewer service area support the idea. The Rules, Enactments and Intergovernmental Relations Committee voted 7-0 for the law with one abstention, sending it to the full Legislature for approval.