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An explanation of the Edgemont incorporation process
Release Date: April 11, 2017

Last week there was some media coverage which quoted some residents of Edgemont as being critical of me for my handling of the review of the petitions that have been filed with the Town seeking a referendum on incorporation. I understand how stressed out people on both sides of the Edgemont incorporation effort are and hope that this response will clarify the process.

 

The NYS Legislature recognized when they adopted the statute dealing with incorporation referendums, that the incorporation process could have significant impacts on many residents of the Town. That is why the process is difficult and requires significant oversight. If incorporation of Edgemont as a village within the town takes place ALL residents of unincorporated Greenburgh and Edgemont will be impacted. 

 

If the petition complies with New York State law, residents of Edgemont would be entitled to vote on whether or not to incorporate and become a village. That referendum would take place in early summer.

 

My job is to determine if the petition is in compliance with NYS law.  To help me make a decision that is based on law, not on politics, the Town acquired the services of a law firm that specializes in municipal law. Former New York State Appellate Division Judge Robert Spolzino (appointed by both a Republican and Democratic Governor) was retained by the Town to provide the Town with legal advice about the Edgemont incorporation petition.

 

Hiring Judge Spolzino's law firm was done in the best interests of the Town. After reviewing the incorporation petition, Judge Spolzino believed it was prudent to engage investigative services to randomly interview individuals that signed the incorporation petition to determine if the signatures obtained were acquired pursuant to NYS law.  While the investigators did act as agents of the Town, the Town had no control over the selection of the investigators or the questions they asked.

 

I encourage every resident of the Town to review the NYS village law section 2-206 which speaks to the legal requirements of the proceeding for hearing objections to the incorporation petition. Several attorneys reviewed the statute and concluded that  the scope of the hearing was narrowly tailored to hearing objections to the petition. The statute does not state that the petitioners have an opportunity to speak about the merits of incorporation and says nothing about the right of residents to respond to objections raised. If the Legislature wanted the hearing to be typical of hearings - they would have expressly included it.  

I have been in contact with Judge Spolzino and have asked him to  come up with rules for the adjourned hearing which will be held on April 24, 2017 at Greenburgh Town Hall at 7:30 PM so that incorporation advocates can respond to the objection affidavits. I recognize that if those who disagree with the objections are allowed to testify they will only be able to focus their comments on the specific objections.  I believe that hearing from both sides will help both Judge Spolzino and make a decision based on law whether the petition is in compliance. Rules  for the April 24th meeting  will be released early next week.

 

I am very committed to following the letter of the law during Edgemont's incorporation attempt. I have told Judge Spolzino to base his advice decision on the law - not on what he thinks I want to hear. I also recognize that this issue has divided our community in a very negative manner -and has pitted neighbor against neighbor. I am committed to working hard to be responsive to the concerns of every Edgemont resident -whether you support or oppose the incorporation. I hope that we will all work together to make Greenburgh a great place to live.

 

I recognize that there are two separate issues. One is process which is being outlined in this memo. The second is substance --Edgemont residents concerns about taxes, land use, quality of schools,  property values, services. I will work hard to be responsive to the Edgemont community. And, am more than willing to reach out to the community and to residents of Edgemont to have a better appreciation of their concerns trying to convince Edgemont to find it more appealing  to stay than to go. I welcome your suggestions.

 

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE STATUTE CONCERNING THE HEARING ON PETITION SUFFICIENCY

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE STATUTE CLEARLY STATES THAT ONLY OBJECTIONS WILL BE PRESENTED

McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated

Village Law (Refs & Annos)

Chapter 64. Of the Consolidated Laws (Refs & Annos)

Article 2. Incorporation (Refs & Annos)

McKinney’s Village Law § 2-206

§ 2-206 Proceeding on hearing

Currentness

 

1. The supervisor, or supervisors if a joint hearing, with whom the petition or copies thereof, were filed, shall meet at the time and place specified in such notice and shall hear objections which may be presented as to the legal sufficiency of the petition for incorporation based upon any of the following grounds:

 

a. That a person signing such petition was not qualified therefor;

 

b. If it is alleged that the petition is submitted on the basis that the persons signing such petition constitute twenty per cent of the residents in such territory qualified to vote for officers of a town in which all or part of such territory is located, that such allegation is false;

 

c. If it is alleged that the petition is submitted on the basis that the persons signing such petition are the owners of more than fifty percent in assessed valuation of the real property in such territory or in full valuation of the real property in each part of each town in such territory and computed separately for each such part, as the case may be, assessed upon the last completed assessment roll or rolls of the town or towns in which all or part of such territory is located, that such allegation is false;

 

d. That such territory is part of a city or village;

 

e. That if such territory is less than an entire town, it contains more than five square miles and the limits of such territory are not coterminous with the entire boundaries of one school, fire, fire protection, fire alarm, town special or town improvement district and the limits of such territory are not coterminous with parts of the boundaries of more than one school, fire, fire protection, fire alarm, town special or town improvement district, all of which are wholly contained within such limits and within one town;

 

f. That such territory does not contain a population of at least five hundred regular inhabitants;

 

g. That the petition in any other specified respect does not conform to the requirements of this article.

 

2. The supervisor of the town in which the entire territory, or the greatest portion of such territory is located shall conduct the hearing.

 

3. All objections must be in writing and signed by one or more residents qualified to vote for town offices1 a town in which all or part of such territory of the proposed village is located. Testimony as to objections may be taken at the hearing which shall be reduced to writing and subscribed by those testifying. The burden of proof shall be on the objectors. All written objections and signed testimony shall clearly state the name and address of the objector.

 

4. The hearing may be adjourned but must be concluded within twenty days from the date fixed in the notice of hearing.

 

Credits

(L.1972, c. 892, § 3. Amended L.1973, c. 976, § 1; L.1975, c. 561, § 1; L.1985, c. 167, § 1.)

 

 

CURRENT LIST OF OBJECTIONS TO PROPOSED EDGEMONT INCORPORATION PETITION

RAISED AT APRIL 5TH HEARING

(These objections are being reviewed by me and town officials and were part of affidavits submitted to the town)

 

 

1.      The Petition does not identify which list the proposed incorporators are relying on to establish that 4,826 regular inhabitants are qualified to vote for the new village in the proposed territory so the Town Supervisor is unable to accurately determine whether the Petition meets the 20% signature requirement as required by of NYS Village Law §2-202(1)(a)(1) and §2-202(1)(c)(2).

2.      The signatures of an Edgemont resident who improperly signed the Petition twice are clearly different which raises the issue of whether the person who witnessed the signatures knowingly and fraudulently swore that she witnessed the signatures of a person who did not actually sign the Petition.

3.      The proposed village territory included in the Petition for Incorporation includes a portion of the City of Yonkers in violation of §2-200(1) of New York State Village Law.

4.      The Petition includes the signatures of 145 persons who are not listed as “regular inhabitants” of the proposed new village on Exhibit B of the Petition as required by NYS Village Law §2-202(1)(c)(2).

5.      Signature pages 117 and 120 of the Petition do not have the requisite “prefatory statement” pursuant to NYS Village Law §2-202(1)(e)(2) rendering signatures on those pages and the petition process invalid.

6.      The Petition presented to residents did not contain a map and property description of the proposed territory to be incorporated and did not provide a complete set of the Petition papers to for residents to inspect as required by NYS Village Law §2-202(1)(b)(4) and (b)(6).

7.      The Petition includes the signatures of the 30 people who signed the Petition twice.

8.      The Petition does not include a description of the proposed new village which is coterminous with the entire boundaries of a school, fire, fire protection, fire alarm, town special or town improvement district  as required by §2-200(1)(b) of New York State Village Law.

9.      The Petition for Incorporation does not include a description of the proposed territory sufficient to identify the location and extent of the proposed new village with common certainty as required by §2-200(1)(c)(1) of New York State Village Law.

10.   The Petition for Incorporation includes a map of the Greenville Fire District which is not an accurate depiction of the existing fire district and which is not coterminous with the entire boundaries of a school, fire, fire protection, fire alarm, town special or town improvement district  as required by §2-200(1)(b) of New York State Village Law.

PAUL FEINER

Greenburgh Town Supervisor

 




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