Thompson Town Supervisors William J. Rieber, Jr. and Fallburg’s Katherine Rappaport, have officially concurred with the petition for the formation of the Village of Ateres within the Town of Thompson
The decision followed two public hearings that were held in August 2023 near Kiamesha Lake NY, where the residents came together to discuss the creation of this new village, named Ateres. But it’s not just a simple decision. It’s about navigating the complexities of an outdated New York State Village Law.
The supervisors acknowledged the well-articulated objections submitted during the review period. Saying in a press release that They understood the merit behind these objections but were bound by an antiquated Village Law that, they say, desperately needed revision.
The law, which has been in place for over a century, according to the supervisors, was no longer in sync with modern community planning practices. However, both the New York State Assembly and Senate had passed a bill to address this issue.
The proposed amendments aimed to increase the minimum population required to create a village and necessitate a comprehensive analysis of financial sustainability, taxation matters, and the overall viability of the proposed village.
However, the bill was awaiting Governor Hochul’s signature to become law, leaving the old statute in effect.
Radio Catskill reached out to Governor Hochul’s office for the bill’s current status, but as of press time, there was no response.
The supervisors highlighted that the current law failed to address several critical concerns, including environmental impact, infrastructure requirements, and potential infringements on individuals’ First Amendment rights.
So, what happens next?
A 30-day period begins, during which opposing parties can initiate an Article 78 proceeding, challenging the decision in the Supreme Court. If not, the supervisors’ decision solidifies, and a referendum is scheduled within 40 days.
The referendum gives the community a direct say in whether the village should come into existence.
If an Article 78 proceeding is initiated, two outcomes are possible. If the court upholds the denial of the petition, the matter concludes. If the court rules in favor, it can lead to a subsequent referendum.
In response to concerns, Robert Rosborough, the lawyer for those wanting to incorporate the new village, addressed several key issues.
First, he clarified the qualifications of signatories, emphasizing that the law required them to meet certain criteria but not necessarily be on voter rolls or have matching addresses.
Second, the legibility of signatures was brought into question. Rosborough argued that even with alleged illegible signatures invalidated, the petition still met the requirement.
Third, various residents raised objections without substantive reasons for invalidating signatures, which Rosborough found had no legal basis.
Lastly, objections regarding notice requirements and errors in the Tax Map parcel list were dismissed as they were deemed sufficient under the current village law.
In conclusion, Rosborough stated, “The objections raised by the residents have no legal merit, and there is no basis to deny the legal sufficiency of the petition.