The Edgemont Incorporation Committee (EIC) announced April 15 it will draft a new petition in an effort to incorporate as the Town of Greenburgh’s seventh village. It will be the group’s third attempt to incorporate in the last four years.
Following a setback in February 2021, when the New York State Appellate Court denied the EIC’s second attempt, the EIC decided not to appeal the court’s decision, but to move forward with a new petition.
For proponents who seek to hold a referendum on incorporation, it’s been an uphill battle. When the Appellate Court agreed with Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner’s argument that the petition failed to include a description of the territory to be incorporated with common certainty, it ruled that although the petition indicated that the proposed village boundaries were coterminous with the Greenville Fire District, records showed otherwise.
While the court denied the EIC’s petition due to common certainty, it ruled against Feiner’s mainstay arguments for denying the petition. The justices ruled that New York State village law didn’t require the list of regular inhabitants (LORI) to be completed and attached at the time of signing the petition and that the LORI was accurate even though it didn’t include the names and addresses of minors who live in the area to be incorporated.
As was the case when the EIC appealed its first petition, there is an expectation that court costs will need to be paid out, though it isn’t clear yet how much those costs will be.
According to Jim Hallowell, an Edgemont resident and partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the firm representing the incorporation petitioners, court costs related to the appeal from the first petition are still unresolved. The Town requested the EIC pay $32,405 to cover the Town’s printing costs.
Feiner, who has long expressed opposition to incorporation, told the Enterprise it was important that the town remain unified, and that if Edgemont were to incorporate it would be “devastating” and result in “major financial ramifications.” He said he believes the State should pass a law to allow all the residents in the unincorporated area of a town to vote if an area wishes to incorporate.
“I think the state Comptroller’s Office should basically do an analysis of the financial implications and share it with both people in Edgemont and the rest of the town,” Feiner said. “When you’re dealing with incorporation, you’re dealing with major long-term impacts, and I think people shouldn’t vote on the basis of campaign literature [or] rhetoric from one side or the other. There should be an independent, totally objective analyst.”
In 2018, when the EIC experienced a similar petition denial by the Appellate Court and appealed the ruling, the Court of Appeals refused to hear the case.
In an email to their supporters, EIC members said they expected Feiner to raise new challenges with the third petition, but that they were confident his efforts wouldn’t prevent a vote.
Jeff Sherwin, president of the EIC, said he expects volunteers from the organization to begin collecting petition signatures by the summer.
“No rational person would want their right to vote impaired or delayed,” Sherwin said. “We obviously wish we could have already voiced our opinion … [and] had our vote, but that’s not going to stop us from getting one.”