Orange County Community Preservation Act
A.7699-A (Gunther, et al.)/S.6224-A (Metzger, et al.)
Towns throughout New York State face enormous development pressures, and those in the Hudson Valley face some of the toughest, as New York City residents seek to escape the high costs of city living. As these pressures increase, towns increasingly find that they’re unable to invest in protecting community character.
The Community Preservation Act authorizes towns to establish dedicated accounts (community preservation funds) to protect parkland, open space, farmland, and historic buildings—the features that give each community its own unique sense of place, making them great places to live, work and play. Each community must be authorized by the state legislature to establish a community preservation fund, and Orange County has sent a home rule message to the legislature requesting this authority.
Community preservation funds allow localities to finance the vision each has for its community, while keeping local taxes in check. The bill does not require any localities to establish a community preservation fund; it gives them the option to create such a fund, and to use it in line with a spending plan, once such a plan is approval by local referendum.
Community preservation funds have been authorized in the Town of Warwick (Orange County) Putnam, and Westchester counties, the Town of Fishkill, the Town of Chatham, the Town of Red Hook, and the Peconic Bay region of Long Island including the towns of East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold.
These funds have successfully preserved more than 10,000 acres of agricultural land, parkland, and open space, and have allowed towns to identify where and how they want to develop. The success in Warwick has helped inspire Orange County to seek this authority on behalf of all its communities. Community preservation funds are an excellent use of home rule authority, they promote smart growth, and Catskill Mountainkeeper supports this bill.
This bill adds Orange County to the list of ‘designated communities’ under the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act. The Act authorizes towns in designated communities to create community preservation funds, and requires that all monies collected be spent pursuant to a community preservation plan. It further requires that all community preservation funds be authorized through a local referendum.