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APPELLATE DIVISION ISSUES TAXTER RIDGE OPINION
Release Date: December 22, 2004

DECISION RENDERED IN LAWSUIT RE: TAXTER RIDGE

The Appellate Division, Second Department has issued a decision modifying part of the trial court’s decision in the Bernstein Article 78 petition. In a nutshell, the court found that there was standing for the trial court to hear the case, although the court found thatthe plaintiff Bob Bernstein failed to show how the acquisition  of Taxter Ridge “imperils the public interests or is calculated to work public injury or produce some public mischief” with regard to the use of public property or funds

The Appellate Division, Second Department has determined that Mr. Bernstein, a taxpayer in the unincorporated Town of Greenburgh, has standing to challenge whether Chapter 891 of the 1982 Session Laws (“the Finnegan Law”) (which requires the purchase of parkland to be taxed to residents in the unincorporated Town) or Town Laws 220(4) and 232 ( which require the purchase to be taxed to residents in the entire Town) is the appropriate method of apportioning the costs for the purchase of Taxter Ridge and other parks purchased by the Town jointly with Westchester County and the State of New York. Although, our reading of the  Finnegan Law has caused us to conclude that it  restricts the Town from taxing the purchase of such parkland to the entire Town, we are confident that, with the input of Mr. Bernstein and other residents from the unincorporated Town and the villages, the trial court will resolve which of the competing  laws is appropriate to apply when the Town purchases parkland with other municipal agencies. We are pleased that, contrary to the allegations made by Mr. Bernstein, the appellate court unanimously recognized that, in choosing to apply the Finnegan Law, the Town did not act fraudulently, in bad faith or in such a way as to imperil the public interests or produce some public mischief with regard to the use of public property or funds.

PAUL FEINER

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