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Town Passes Flow Control Ordinance

The North Hempstead Town Board held yet another Flow Control meeting. Supervisor Jon Kaiman opened up the meeting by saying, "The Town of North Hempstead has come up with a new Sanitation Code. I believe now the town has crafted legislation that addresses most, not all, of the concerns of the village mayors.

"The town has been working with a committee of mayors, led by Mayor Marvin Natiss, of North Hills, and about six or seven other villages in the last few months.

"The goal of the committee and the town was to see if there was some way to address concerns raised by the mayors and the representation of their villages. There is, of course, an important concept of our own self-rule and the mayors wanted to preserve their own self-rule, as they should. I think they have done a commendable job in expressing their interests to us.

"While, at first, we did not necessarily see the clarity of their position, it was actually presented in a way that made it clear to myself, and others on our committee representing the town, that it was in all our interests to work together and come up with legislation that did take into account the villages' concerns.

"The legislation, as it now stands, does include an opt-out clause for villages that was not included in the first version of this legislation and that was one of the critical components presented to us by the village mayors.

Therefore, we agreed to include language in the legislation that enables a village, by its own declaration that they want to opt out and they can do so by advising the town. Then that village will be responsible for its own solid waste and recycling. Under the New York State law there are rules and regulations in regard to solid waste and recycling and villages will have to adhere to those regulations. The town now handles that responsibility for most villages throughout the town and the town provides an annual plan to the New York State Department of Conservation. If a village chooses to opt out, they would have to, by law, provide their own plan and the town would not be responsible for them."

Kaiman continued, "In regard to 'opting in' the town has created a mechanism so that villages who have decided to opt out can then opt back in again; however, if they do so they will have to commit to remain in the program for the remainder of the contract.

"The contract currently is being negotiated on a 25-year basis which will be broken down." Supervisor Kaiman explained that the reason the town is moving ahead on all of this is, prior to signing an IMA (Inter-Municipal Agreement), is because sanitation companies will negotiate a better deal if an agreement with the villages is in place.

Kaiman went on, "The town has also worked with the villages, in other instances, beyond the ability to opt out. The town will respect the village's own independence and police power in a number of other ways. For instance, there is no requirement regarding license abilities regarding village trucks and the town agrees that it is a local function. The town does believe it should gather information about trucks that are coming to our transfer station, but the town will simply fill out a form, gather the information and then accommodate whatever village trucks comes to the facility. It is not necessary to generate a license as we do with the private sector.

"Regarding dumpsters, the town agrees with the villages that it is not the town's business to regulate a village-owned dumpster. Private dumpsters are within our realm whether they are in a village or not. However, if a large bin or dumpster is owned by a village, it is not the town's position to determine whether or not a village should keep it on its property. But, we are all bound by New York State law and it is the town's obligation to make sure that we adhere to those regulations and it is the obligation of a village to do the same. If we receive a complaint, we would notify the village and I am sure if the village receives a complaint, they will notify us.

"There is one major area that is still the concern of the villages and that is the fee structure. We have a provision in this law that states that the town is permitted to pay the same fees as the villages, so we are all charged the same. However, even if the laws within this code states that we all be treated fairly there is a possibility that the town board, in some future date, amends this law. The goal of this law is to bring us all together so that we can commit ourselves for an extended period of time. That being the case it is appropriate for us to come up with some IMA that would lock in the town and the villages in these rates. So, the town has incorporated into this code a provision that will bind the town and all the villages that sign it to the terms as it stands today.

"If, by the way, the villages and the town agree that it needs to be amended, both parties are able to amend the contract. Mayor Natiss has a letter indicating that the town has no intention of amending this code between now and the time we agree on the IMA. We are hoping that will give the mayors confidence that this indeed is a partnership and that we are at our best when we do work together. Understanding that a village or villages may find it in their best interest to opt out and that's fair and we wish them the best. The goal is that we all do what is best for our community."

He also said that the town is now in the process of coming up with an agreement and as soon as that happens they will call our mayor's committee back to go over the agreement with them.

Supervisor Kaiman then praised the counsel of attorneys, Lawrence Bowes of Westbury and John Spellman, representing Roslyn, Mineola and New Hyde Park who both worked diligently to draft this legislation.

The only dissenter to speak was Mineola Mayor Jack Martins who said he felt that there should be no agreement until the IMA is decided on. He commented that he didn't know what the "rush" was.

However, Kaiman explained that it was felt a better deal could be crafted when working with whatever sanitation company is decided on, if the town had the initial plan in place voted on by the board.

A vote was then taken and the entire board voted yes. Councilman Angelo Ferrara of New Hyde Park, was the only board member not present, but issued the following statement: "I would like to commend the town and the villages for negotiating in good faith and working as partners. I believe everyone, especially the taxpayers, will benefit from this legislation and I am in full support of it."


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