Thursday, September 03, 2009

FILM Flam in New Hartford . . .

New Hartford is apparently "confused" about where to spend $3.3 million of "Fees In Lieu of Mitigation" collected from developers over the years.

Strikeslip is confused about where the Town got the legal authority to collect such fees in the first place. There is nothing in the State Environmental Quality Review Act that authorizes anyone to take money in lieu of mitigating an adverse environmental impact. A review of the New Hartford Town Code turned up nothing that authorizes the Town to collect such fees.

Concerned Citizens have been led to believe that the Town is relying on Generic Environmental Impact Statements as providing the legal authority to enact a voluntary FILM.

Since when does a Generic Environmental Impact Statement confer legal authority? That idea is simply PREPOSTEROUS. Town officials need to trace the source of such a notion because this is simply wrong. Towns can only do what State Law allows them to do. Municipal Home Rule law allows the Town to take state authority and confer it upon itself under certain circumstances, by enacting its own law. A GEIS is not a law.

Unless there is a provision of the New Hartford Code that I overlooked, there is neither a State law nor a local law that authorizes collection of Fees in Lieu of Mitigation. In other words, the collection of such fees is illegal because it is unauthorized.

What seems to be going on, however, may be worse than that "merely" being illegal . . .

SEQRA is clear that adverse impacts must be mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. The Town may refuse to issue permits if it determines that impacts are not sufficiently mitigated.

There are three possible things happening, none of which are acceptable. (1) The Town is using its authority to require mitigation to extort "voluntary" contributions from developers as Fees In LIEU of Mitigation. (2) The Town is actually allowing degradation of the Town environment -- unmitigated adverse environmental impacts -- by accepting Fees in LIEU of Mitigation. (3) Those running the Town haven't a clue what they are doing.

Are the Developers being FILM Flammed -- or the Residents?

There's more from NH Online.


Conservationist said...

I think Gerald Green, Town Attorney should be brought up on ethics charges and what appears to be gross negligence in his role as Town Attorney.

I hope Mr. Green has lots of insurance to cover a malpractice and/or malfeasance charge in this matter?

Strikeslip said...

I would not rush to judgement. Collections of FILM go back to the 1990s, so there would be people involved other than our current/recent crop of players. Before blaming anyone in particular (since attornies don't necessarily research questions that they were never acked), it is important to trace just where the notion that a GEIS would confer legal authority to collect FILM ("voluntary" or otherwise) originated.

clipper said...

Just a little more questionable crap from the questionable administration in NH. One more example of the corruption and wrongdoing that has continued to occur there for the past several years. Hopefully all of their indiscretion will be addressed eventually and SOMEONE or EVERYONE involved will pay the price and be prosecuted.

Just think what would be happening if not for Concerned Citzens, Strikeslip and others that monitor and report their actions regularly.

Albany Lawyer said...

Let's get to what this is really about - it's zoning for sale. That's why developers pay them voluntarily. I don't blame the developers. Town officials shouldn't sell zoning.

Anonymous said...

1. Why didn't the $100,000+ accountant notice the account and alert the bumbling Reed?
2. The mitigation projects are supposed to be defined and initiated in conjunction with the development projects thus the term, mitigation. If there is no need for mitigation, there should be no fee.
3.Of the possibilities mentioned, all three are in play.
4.Has there ever been a more hapless soul than Reed? One cannot grasp why he ever wanted the job in the first place. His public comments are both pathetic and kind of sad. To be noted as a public bumbler at this stage must be tough to take. Of course, that assumes he knows how foolish hwe sounds.