GREENBURGH, N.Y. – A group that has been circulating a petition seeking to incorporate part of Greenburg as a village was thwarted Wednesday in its second attempt to file it with the town.
Jeff Sherwin, and other representatives of the Edgemont Incorporation Committee (EIC), showed up at the town clerk’s office around 3:30 p.m. but left without being able to file the papers, according to Sherwin and town attorney Timothy Lewis.
The flap centers around differing interpretations of state law, Lewis said.
The town feels that such petitions have to be personally served on the town supervisor, Paul Feiner, who is out of state at present, Lewis said.
The EIC, according to a post on its Facebook page, says the law only applies to territory that spans more than one town.
Feiner, in notifying residents about the group’s first attempt on Tuesday to file the petition, said he offered to meet with them Sunday when he returns, or at any time next week.
Lewis said that he feels the group thought that was “a ploy.”
The attorney said, is that if there is the least little bit of ambiguity here, there is a chance that the petition’s legality could be questioned down the line. So it’s in everyone’s best interests, Lewis said, that there are no legal questions floating around when the petition is accepted by the town.
Sherwin, for his part, said the group’s legal counsel told them state law says they “can file when we want to file.” It wouldn’t make any sense, he added, to turn over the 1,400-signature petition – and the $6,000 filing fee – anywhere but Town Hall.
In a back-and-forth of emails posted on Incorporate Edgemont’s Facebook page, Sherwin addressed Feiner, saying: “As you know, Edgemont does not span more than one town, so this point is irrelevant and also doesn't specify that the petition has to go to the supervisor. It appears that you are recasting the statute to require that you be served personally when it says no such thing.”
“I hope we can get a receipt of those materials and report back to the residents that we had a simple misunderstanding and we are working together properly,” Sherwin’s post concluded.
Feiner responded in an email posted on the site that the petition for incorporation is “different.”
“There is a very short time period to review the petitions. That's why it is important for the Town Supervisor to be personally served,” Feiner wrote.
Sherwin noted that the town has 20 days to give notice that it has received the petition so that it can be reviewed by the public, and then another 20 to 30 days to set a public hearing. And that’s just part of the process, he said, before it goes to an actual vote.
The supervisor noted that the group had been collecting signatures for more than a year. “I personally think you're playing games and trying to cause a controversy when you could have filed the petition last week or any previous week when we were around,” Feiner wrote in the email posted on Incorporate Edgemont’s Facebook page.
Sherwin said Wednesday night that it “never occurred” to the EIC to “check Feiner’s personal schedule.”
Sherwin was adamant that the group was “not trying to cause controversy.”
They went back a second time to Town Hall only after being told by their legal counsel that they could file their petition with Feiner’s office or the town clerk, Sherwin said.
Sherwin said they plan to try to file the paperwork again on Monday, Feb. 27.
In the Facebook post, they said they hoped that “the town attorney and whomever else the town has hired to help conclude that holding a referendum vote is fair and valid, so we can start the real work.”
Lewis confirmed Wednesday that the town again told the EIC that the petition had to be served on Feiner.
The 36.1-square-mile town already has six villages within its borders – Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Hastings-on-Hudson, and Tarrytown. Edgemont, aka Greenville, is a census-designated area with a population of 7,116.
Under state law, a village is an incorporated area that differs from a city in that it is within the jurisdiction of one or more towns. A city is independent of a town, therefore villages have less autonomy than cities do.
Furthermore, state law says, a village is a clearly defined municipality that provides services such as garbage collection, road maintenance, and street lighting. Some also have their own police force.
Municipal services that are not provided by a village are handled by the town (or towns) within which it is contained.
There is no limit to the number of a village’s residents. Hempstead, on Long Island, has 55,000 residents, making it more populous than some cities in New York.
However, there is a minimum – 500. And no village may be larger in geographic size than 5 square miles.
According to the latest census data, there are currently 542 villages in New York. In 2010, there were 555. Since then, 14 villages were dissolved, and one new one was created.
The villages currently in Greenburgh, their populations and geographic sizes are: Ardsley (4,452, 1.323 square miles), Dobbs Ferry (10,875, 2.429 square miles), Elmsford (4,664, 1.027 square miles), Hastings-on-Hudson (7,849, 1.952 square miles), Irvington (5,420, 2.773 square miles), and Tarrytown (11,277, 2.926 square miles).
Edgemont is a bedroom community located just 22 miles north of midtown Manhattan, where many of its residents work. They also commute to White Plains, Purchase, and Armonk in Westchester and to Westport and Stamford in Fairfield County, Conn.
It has its own school district and fire department.
Notable residents have included Poet Laureate Billy Collins, film and television actor Rob Morrow, newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell and gangster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel.
In his email to residents Tuesday, Feiner said that If the petition contains the proper amount of valid signatures, a referendum will be held and Edgemont residents will have the right to vote for, or against, incorporation as a village.
“Hopefully, there will be a constructive dialogue regarding the advantages and disadvantages to them of incorporation,” Feiner said.