Greenburg The Greenburgh Town Board intends to contest a change to the state’s recently passed village incorporation legislation that would exempt the town’s Edgemont hamlet from the new legislation until 2040. This disagreement is the most recent development in a protracted battle in Greenburgh over the creation of an Edgemont municipal government.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed new legislation updating the state’s village incorporation regulations in December. The new rules stipulate that a new village petition must have more signatures in order to be approved, and they also require voters to be informed about the village’s finances and service offerings prior to any referendum on the matter being put to a vote.
The contentious change to the previous year’s law is that it expressly bans petitions pertaining to Edgemont for the next sixteen years. This effectively means that, in contrast to other communities in the state, Edgemont’s attempts to establish a new municipality would continue to operate under the previous regulations for an extended period of time.
Members of the municipal board were not pleased with this exemption and questioned the decision.
The amendment is being sponsored in the state Senate by Greenburgh representative and majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D, Yoners). A few days after the amendment was approved by the Senate, she went to the town board meeting on January 12th to explain her reasoning to the board and the general public.
According to Stewart-Cousins, Edgemont and Greenburgh have been engaged in an incorporation dispute for many years. I dislike changing the rules in the middle of the game and pulling the rug out from under anyone or any organization that is abiding by the law. It unnerves me as a woman, as a black woman, who has traveled places and seen things change. I will attempt to develop a system that will be a little more comprehensive based on what is being done nationally that will allow for the assessment of whether or not a village should be incorporated based on today’s realities, the impacts, and what you have all considered. As I have always said, I would always do anything in a way that allows Edgemont to do what Edgemont does.
Stewart-Cousins stated that she requested research on the subject from Pace University and recommendations, which she took into consideration when drafting legislation. Additionally, she stated that she is in favor of an educated vote about the possible establishment of a new village and that the chapter amendment she negotiated required research on the subject before a referendum could be held.
In reference to the chapter change, Councilwoman Gina Jackson expressed that it causes pain. She stated that her intention is to bring the people of Greenburgh together and that she believes the amendment has further polarized the town.
The Edgemont Incorporation Committee (EIC), a community organization, has twice attempted to establish a new village through official petitions. The town won both in 2017 and 2019 when the courts rejected the petitions on the grounds that they did not adhere to the then-current legal requirements. A third petition is currently being circulated by the EIC, and if it is approved, Edgemont may be able to depart Greenburgh.
Although the chapter revision has not yet been brought before the State Assembly, two members of the affected area may make things more challenging when navigating the state’s lower house. The Edgemont community is represented by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, while Greenburgh is represented by Assemblywoman MaryJane Shimsky. Like Stewart-Cousins, Paulin and Shimsky are both Democrats.
Shimsky has not made a public statement regarding her stance on the exemption, but Paulin, the Assembly sponsor of the amendment, intends to support it.
Officially opposing the chapter revision, the Greenburgh Town Board intends to fight the clause once it is approved by the State Assembly and signed by Governor Hochul.