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Friday, July 17, 2020

Today, we will tackle the burning question...

...is ignorance bliss??

In other words, if you do not know about something, you don't have to worry about it.

Perhaps, our "leaders" in the Town of New Hartford might believe that to be true; however, Governor Cuomo and his staff seem to have a different opinion.

I blogged about the town's Public Hearing legal notices a few weeks ago...Let's be very clear....Cuomo's Executive Orders....

In that blog I referred to Executive Order 202.15 which postponed Public Hearings until June 1, 2020 unless:
Any local official, state official or local government or school, which, by virtue of any law has a public hearing scheduled or otherwise required to take place in April or May of 2020 shall be postponed, until June 1, 2020, without prejudice, however such hearing may continue if the convening public body or official is able to hold the public hearing remotely, through use of telephone conference, video conference, and or other similar service.
I also included Executive Order 202.39 which extended the above Executive Order until July 7, 2020.

However, those Executive Orders have now been updated. On July 8, 2020, the Governor released Executive Order 202.49 which extended both 202.15 and 202.39 until August 6, 2020. Here is Executive Order 202.49.

Earlier today, I called the Governor's office and was referred to their Covid-19 Hotline. I was told that while the town can hold Public Hearings with no more than 50 people present, that DOES NOT exclude the fact that those public hearings must also be held through the use of telephone conference or similar service that allows for anyone in the public to comment in real-time.

They also gave me a phone number to call if I choose to submit a formal complaint against the town if they persist in ignoring the Governor's Executive Orders. I will keep that number handy for the moment until we hear back from the town on how they plan to handle their latest Public Hearing Notice that appears in today's paper which is lacking the notice to the public as to how they can access the hearing to comment in real time.

We have called the town clerk's office, but no one answered the phone; a message was left to return our call...we will wait to hear back.

Ultimately, the July 17 Public Hearings had to be cancelled I assume because holding the public hearings in real-time via video-conferencing was not an option in the Town of New Hartford.

Here is the notice for the proposed July 29, 2020 public hearing.

While we are on the subject, the last two Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, which by law are always Public Hearings, has ended with:
"The Town of New Hartford further reserves the right to limit the number of participants in each hearing."
Really?? What rights does the town believe they are reserving...the right to be wrong? What fools! Zoning Board of Appeals meetings also must be done via teleconferencing to allow public comment in real time! You cannot take the "public" out of Public Hearings!

Oh, and by the way, where are all the town board meeting minutes? I have said it before, and I will say it again, the town attorney needs to start doing his job!


UPDATE:

After a little back and forth, the town has indicated to us that the meeting will be held via Zoom. The Public Notice in the paper today did not indicate how a person can connect to Zoom to view and comment in real time as required by Executive Order; however, that information should be forthcoming soon.

In the meantime, for anyone who is a doubting Thomas; here is what Bond, Schoeneck & King has to say on the subject:
Public Hearings – Ban on public hearings (except those that can be done remotely) expires today, unless extended – July 7th

o Look for Executive Order 202.49 to extend Executive Order 202.39 for another 30 days
I rest my case...


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