Town con­fi­dent water dis­trict will pre­vail in court case

State Supreme Court dis­misses three of eight claims against the town

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­

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.”

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