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Skaneateles village board hears opposition to proposed law

Village residents speak out against proposal to change the makeup and powers of the historic commission

Dave Neibert, a current member of the HLPC, speaks in opposition of the proposed law, to change the role and powers of the commission, at the March 14 village board meeting.

Dave Neibert, a current member of the HLPC, speaks in opposition of the proposed law, to change the role and powers of the commission, at the March 14 village board meeting. Joe Genco

Ideally, the planning board or code enforcement officer would not issue a certificate of approval for a project without the recommendation of the HLPC, though their advice would not be binding under the new law, she said.

Though it was not addressed at the public hearing, another aspect of the HLPC that would change under the proposed law is the appeal process.

Under the proposed law, if some one wanted to appeal an HLPC recommendation. They would need to file an Article 78 appeal with the New York State Supreme Court. To overturn a decision, the court would have to determine if the advice of the commission was “arbitrary and capricious.”

This is the appeal process for decisions by the village planning and zoning boards, Sennett said. Currently, appeals of HLPC decisions go before the village board of trustees.

Before the hearing started, in response to a letter to the village from attorney John Langey, village attorney Michael Byrne noted that the provision of the law requiring three of the five members of the commission to be residents of the historic district was removed, due to concerns over the constitutionality of that requirement.

In an attempt to maintain order, Mayor Marty Hubbard requested that village residents speak before non-residents and that everyone keep their comments under two-minutes. Though several people exceeded the time limit or spoke multiple times and some of the comments garnered applause from the crowd.

Several residents stressed the importance of the HLPC to the community. “I think one of the reasons the village is so beautiful is the care and wise custodian leadership that has been on the board,” current HLPC member Kathy Dyson said.

Carol Young said she was in favor of a residency requirement for the commission and recommended that the village consider enlisting the village historic district as a member of the Preservation League of New York State, which would qualify them to receive grant money from the state.

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