Legislators are trying to permanently take away your existing right to incorporate. Again.
Once again, your state representatives are trying to take away your existing right to vote on whether any area of unincorporated Greenburgh can incorporate as a village. Permanently.
A new version of Assemblyman Tom Abinanti’s bill to amend New York's longstanding incorporation law was just introduced--right before the start of Memorial Day weekend--in the New York Senate. This version is even worse than last year's bill (or the 2017 one, which led to the infamous Father's Day hearing at the Greenburgh Town Board). But the end result is the same: Edgemont and every other part of unincorporated Greenburgh will lose their existing right to decide for themselves whether they want to incorporate, now or ever.
There's no doubt that this bill is aimed squarely at Edgemont: it even applies retroactively to petitions that were filed before the bill takes effect. But the bill applies to every other unincorporated area, too.
The bill rewrites New York’s incorporation process to make residents of unincorporated areas permanently subject to the tyranny of the majority. For over a century, New York's incorporation process has been straightforward: the residents of the proposed village, after submitting a petition, vote on whether to become a self-governing village within their town. This right to self-determination is particularly important for areas that have only a small fraction of the town-wide vote and thus no meaningful political power.
But the new bill turns this principle on its head. Under the new bill, any petition to incorporate a village within a town must first show that incorporation is in the interest of the entire town. And even if the petition does so, the town supervisor - here, Paul Feiner - can simply disagree and refuse to certify the petition. The only way to overturn that decision is by a majority vote of the entire town. For Greenburgh that includes the residents of Greenburgh's six villages, which never needed to ask for anyone else's permission to incorporate.
In other words, the residents of the Villages of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Hastings, Irvington, and Tarrytown—who already have a majority vote in electing Greenburgh’s town-wide officials—will gain veto power over the formation of any new villages within Greenburgh. This makes an already-lopsided situation even worse: the villages will get to block the unincorporated areas from ever incorporating, even though the unincorporated areas have no reciprocal right to force the villages to dissolve back into unincorporated Greenburgh. And because Greenburgh’s budgeting approach for Town-wide accessible services disproportionately favors the villages, the villages have a financial incentive to keep the status quo. Indeed, if this bill passes, there will be nothing to stop the Town of Greenburgh from shifting even more of the costs onto the unincorporated areas.
If residents of unincorporated Greenburgh want to remain that way, it should be their decision to make. And if residents in an area of unincorporated Greenburgh do not wish to remain part of unincorporated Greenburgh, they should not be forced to do so against their will. But that is exactly what this bill would accomplish. A more appropriate title is the “Keep Unincorporated Greenburgh Hostage Act of 2019.”
The newly proposed amendment to last year's bill may be found here: http://bit.ly/2YLwuRl
Your letters and emails have defeated bills like this before. Don’t let our State legislators take away your existing rights. Call and write the legislators and tell them that you strongly oppose S05793A.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins: email@example.com
Click here for an email link with the sample language.
Assembly Speaker of the House Carl Heastie: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for an email link with sample language.
The bill is being considered now, so time is of the essence. Please contact these legislators as soon as possible, and tell your friends and neighbors to do the same. We also ask that you consider contributing to the legal and lobbying effort by clicking here.