MONROE - The Monroe Town Board voted in a 3-1 decision to give the Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel lead agency status in the environmental review process over its new proposal to take 164 acres of land from the town.

The decision did not go over well with residents, who packed the Monroe Senior Center for the meeting over the controversial land deal. "This is classic segmentation. It's not legal under SEQR law but they're going to try to do it anyway because they don't care about the law," says Emily Convers, of United Monroe.

The vote follows another request for 500 acres that's been stalled by the state for months. Town leaders said when they put in their initial application to be lead agency against Kiryas Joel in the environmental review process, they didn't think it'd take this long to make a decision and that this vote helps moves along the proposal.

Monroe officials at town hall have not returned calls for comment.