One of the privileges of being an incorporated village is that the New York State Constitution gives home rule authority to local governments by permitting them to adopt local legislation. Home rule has given Floral Park the ability to enact laws and ordinances that reflect our ideals and values which is key in preserving the quality of life in our village.
By way of background, the village board of trustees has the authority to adopt legislation by local law or resolution. While both a local law and a resolution are binding, our board will opt for a local law over a resolution if the importance or impact of the legislation is greater and if public participation is more warranted. Indeed, a local law is considered the highest form of legislation.
Local Law 1
At the March 6 village board meeting, two local laws were introduced and the subject of a public hearing.
Local Law 1 of 2007 will, if enacted, prohibit sex offenders from residing in close proximity to where children are likely to be present, thereby reducing the risk of reprehensible acts being committed against them.
While we cannot legally ban registered sex offenders from residing within the village, this local law will prohibit registered sex offenders from residing within a 1,000-foot radius of our schools, library, playground, parks, daycare and community centers.
Mirroring the Sex Offender Registration Act, New York's version of Megan's Law, sex offenders are now required to register with local authorities in addition to notifying the public when such individuals reside in the community. No registered offenders reside in our village.
Local Law 2
The renowned Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed that logic is not the life of the law, it is experience. Hence, Local Law 2 of 2007 makes use of that axiom to extend the uses in the B-1 (Business) Zoning District.
Presently, the code of the Village of Floral Park provides that various types of business uses (restaurants, retail stores, offices and banks) may be permitted as "special uses" in the B-1 Zoning District by the board of trustees following a public hearing. Over the past few years, however, a number of applications have been made for uses in the B-1 Zone that involve educational and recreational instruction which necessitated a variance because such assembly uses are not allowed in the B-1 Zoning District.
A variance involves a much higher standard of proof than a special use and is therefore much more difficult to obtain since it varies from the law and does not enjoy the presumptive right of its presently permitted uses such as restaurants, retail stores, offices and banks.
Accordingly, the board believes that the "special uses" in the B-1 Zone are too limited in their exclusion of other compatible uses. To correct this deficiency, this local law was introduced to expand the special uses in the B-1 Zoning District by including as a special use "places of public assembly of less than 20 people congregating for recreational purposes or educational classes for not more than one scheduled event at a time."
This year marks the countdown to the Village of Floral Park's 100th anniversary in 2008. I'm encouraging all our residents to get involved in the festivities for this landmark spectacle. The centennial celebration will be the biggest event in the history of the village. In fact, there won't be another event this big until the bi-centennial and who wants to wait another 100 years to join in the fun! So get involved and be part of it.
A recent Cablevision editorial implored newly elected Senator Craig Johnson to disassociate himself from politics and to retreat from what they called his "measured opposition" to the third track.
Cablevision argued that a third track would improve Long Island's rush hour rail service because access to the east side offers more Manhattan destinations and, equally important, it would eliminate a number of dangerous grade crossings that tie up traffic.
We agree with Cablevision and have long favored an east side access from Jamaica into Grand Central Station. This makes sense and would save the commuter both time and expense. We also favor the elimination of the five grade crossings to unclog traffic snafus and facilitate vehicular movement on our roads and highways.
Where we part company with Cablevision is having our taxpayers bankroll a billion dollars for a reverse commute that is not only unwanted, but also unneeded. Trains on the reverse commute are not only half empty, but cars are closed for lack of passengers.
Ride them and see for yourselves.
Moreover, our communities already disproportionately shoulder the region's transportation burdens with four tracks transporting hundreds of trains a day from our nation's largest commuter rails and air traffic from our busiest airports.
Meticulously sifting, discerning and assessing the information, we have parsed out the conflicting issues very carefully. The truth is far from NIMBYISM (not in my backyard). Our analytical discourse on the region's transportation needs is a consequence of proportion, discrimination and perspective.
Sadly, it has been the pundits, the editorialists and the media in general who, perceiving us as a shortsighted, and self-interested lot, have, ironically, defined their own outlook and agenda. Their distilled interpretation of the facts disclose their propensity to be ensnared by gigantic, grandiose public projects without seeing what lies beyond its monumental extravagances, not least of which is the devastation of our community.
It is hardly uncommon for these self-appointed protectors of the public good to have their perceptions formed by pre-judgments, hasty conclusions and raw prejudices that reject rationality, common sense, and even truth.
Get the facts first, Mark Twain caustically noted; you can distort them later.
Have we seen any facts, at least readily publicized, by the MTA on the number of reverse commuters? The answer is no because there is so embarrassingly little that no one in the MTA or the media wants to talk about it.
Instead, we get some murky projections on the number of reverse commuters some 20 years hence without the analysts ever factoring in the simple addition of railroad cars to meet these hypothetical demands.
Furthermore, one must approach these favored fortunetellers with some misgivings; much like the economist who tells you what is going to happen to the stock market in six months and then after six months tells you why it didn't.
The life of our community is too precious to be reduced to a neat equation accommodating the dreams of visionaries who care little if at all about destroying our own dreams. Floral Park will never, not ever, be an end justifying someone else's means.
While it is wise to work near the limits of what is possible, since all situations have the potential for better or worse outcomes, we must maintain our gains and protect those residents along Terrace Avenue and those who live near our pool and recreation center. To do this, we must replow those fields that have proved so fertile.
This means remaining unified, finding common ground with our sister villages, reaching out to our elected representatives and making sure we have the legal representation protecting our rights in those all important environmental studies that measure the impact of the project on our community.