Town confident water district will prevail in court case
State Supreme Court dismisses three of eight claims against the town
Supervisor Neil Bettez says there is still confidence that the water district established on Plains Road to back up the village system will be upheld after a state Supreme Court ruling dismissed three of eight claims against the town.
The case brought by resident Ingrid Beer was reduced in scope after Judge Christopher Cahill decide on Sept. 14 that the town had produced accurate descriptions of the district, did not commit fraud and acted properly in signing a contract with New York City Department of Environmental Protection to construct the water system.
“We’re not happy that they weren’t dismissed but we’re not really worried about it,” Bettez said.
“The DEP is not deterred and we’re not deterred,” he said. “After this, we realized this may take longer than we thought, which is why we extended the option with the land owner ... but it isn’t going to take us so long that we be able to do this before the shutdown.”
City officials have a 10- to 14day shutdown planned for 2017 and 10-week shutdowns scheduled for the following three years. The shutdowns are schedule for repairs to the city system, leaving about 70 communities in need of alternative sources.
Town Board members on Feb. 25 established Water District No. 5, covering 86 properties along a section of Plains Road. Officials have reported there are 22 homes that will initially be connected to the system within the district, with other properties not charged unless they connect to the system, which will be constructed using funds from New York City.
In the ruling to dismiss three complaints, Cahill wrote that the town provided maps that “clearly shows the boundaries of the proposed district and a general plan of the proposed water system to be constructed.”
Cahill also wrote that allegations that fraud was committed were “outside the parameters of judicial review in a proceeding of this kind. Moreover, the petition contains no allegations of a factual nature to support this cause of action.”
The decision concluded that an objection to the June 4, 2015 contract with New York City was being dismissed because it had not “been timely challenged.”
Under the decision, town officials will have 20 days to file documents to dispute complaints on the remaining issues. Those objections from Beer include con-
cerns the town did not establish a maximum amount of expenditures, failed to establish cost and provide details about the project, did not obtain signatures from both property owners for some parcels, does not have outside users factored into the cost of water use, and will render private wells useless in the district.
In upholding the position of Beer in the complaints, Cahill noted that town officials had not gotten some of the required signatures on a petition to establish the district. He wrote that for “properties held as joint tenants with a right of survivorship ... both signatures are needed.”
Cahill also found that village residents and town residents outside of the district won’t be taking the burden off of district property owners.
“(Beer) asserts that even though the village ... and other town residents will benefit from the creation of the water district by receiving water for drinking, bathing and watering their lawns from the underground Plains Road aquifer, the district residents alone will be responsible for maintaining the water supply infrastructure,” he wrote.
“Moreover, since the underground water in the Plains Road aquifer will be taken from under these homes, rendering their private wills unusable, these causes of action contend that those who are benefitting from the creation of the water district are not include in such water district in violation of (state) Town Law,” Cahill wrote. “Therefore, the court must conclude that ... exhibits demonstrate that sufficient cause exists for (Beer) to challenge whether town complied with Town Law.”