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Friday, June 12, 2020

Tap; Tap; Tap...

Excuse me, Supervisor Miscione and Town Attorney Cully...I think you have overlooked a few things such as NYS Town Law!

Calling a Public Hearing to adopt a local law prior to perfecting said local law and letting it "rest" in the hands of the town councilmen for a prescribed number of days depending on the method used to get the proposed law to the councilmen is contrary to the dictates of Municipal Home Rule...and several court decisions plus the Dept. of State has a different opinion on the law than the town attorney.

We already wrote yesterday that after a phone call to the town clerk's office and a search of the town's website, we were unable to get a copy of the proposed solar local law which is the topic of the Public Hearing for Wednesday, June 17, 2020.

Someone from the town clerk's office was supposed to call us back and/or provide us with a copy of said law yesterday.

No one did, however. So this morning we once again called the town clerk's office and this time we were told that the town clerk has a copy of the initial law that was proposed, but the town attorney was still working on an amendment that would be added before Wednesday's meeting; however, it wasn't ready yet.

As we requested, the town clerk's office did send us a copy of the initial text which is here.

We will be generous and give everyone the benefit of the doubt that the initial proposed law has been in the hands of the councilmen the required number of days; although we have our doubts.

At any rate, as the Department of State has clearly outlined in their brochure, Adopting Local Laws in New York State, the step-by-step process that must be followed to adopt a local law.

Page 12 of that brochure clearly states:
"Waiting Time.

Possibly, one or more amendments may be considered and accepted. Assuming that the proposed local law is to be amended, it should be rewritten and reproduced in its amended form and given the same introductory number but a new print number. It would then be subject to the requirements of the Municipal Home Rule Law, Section 20(4), concerning being on the desks or table of the members for at least seven calendar days (exclusive of Sundays) or having been mailed to the members at least ten calendar days (exclusive of Sundays) before the local legislative body may act on it."
Meaning the proposed local law, once final and no further amendments are added, needs to be in the hands of the town councilman for seven calendar days or mailed to the members at least ten calendar days, not including Sundays...not 2 or 3 hours prior to holding a Public Hearing and adoption by the town board.

That being said, the June 17, 2020 Public Hearing is not really the "official" Public Hearing; it will merely serve as a time for the public to comment on the proposed law; no action can be taken by the town board to adopt said local law at this time.

Any more concerns raised by the councilmen or the public that require further amendments to the proposed law after Wednesday's town board meeting, needs to be incorporated into the initial proposal along with Cully's amendment that is not yet finished.

At that point, Town Law requires that the town board goes back to Step II, "The municipal attorney is requested to draft a law which deals with the problem at hand".

Then when all their ducks are in a row; the town attorney has drafted a law taking into consideration any and all amendments; that is when the town can go on to Step III:
"The law is presented to the municipal governing body and introduced by one of its members."
Then comes Step IV:
"A notice of hearing is published which informs the public governed by this proposed law, that such a matter is before the municipal body (or the chief executive officer who must finally approve the law, as the case may be) and their comments will be heard on the issue."
If the Public Hearing necessitates any further amendments to the law, that is where Step VII comes into play:
"The municipal attorney may be required to amend or redraft the proposed law based on the input from the local residents at the public hearing. If so, the procedure will start over at Step II and follow the same time frame as the original draft."
The brochure continues:
"Time Frame. It is the responsibility of the municipal attorney to see that the format of procedures has been adhered to."
The brochure continues by listing all seven (7) steps that are required to be followed in adopting a local law.

That's the law, my friends, which means that the town board has some work to do before their "official" Public Hearing can legally take place and the best that can be done at Wednesday's meeting is for the town board to discuss the proposed law and allow comments from the public.

Yeah, I know, you were doing this the way the town has always done it, but how would that excuse work for you in a court of law, Cully?

Oh, and next time this or any other local law is being brought to the public for comment, perhaps the town should see that a copy of the local law is available on the town's exquisite website prior to the Public Hearing so the public knows what they are dealing with!

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