Monday, May 08, 2006

How a Draft Becomes a Law

On Saturday at Living in Dryden, I commented on the process of adopting a law enabling the Zoning Board to approve building permits for alternative energy structures. I want to review what I've observed of the process of passing a law to put the wind energy issue in focus.

In the first four months of 2006 the Town of Dryden has passed two substantive laws and one law repealing an older law. A fourth is scheduled for public hearing in May.

1. A local law ESTABLISHING THE TOWN OF DRYDEN POLICY ON NOTIFICATION UPON THE UNAUTHORIZED RELEASE OF PRIVATE INFORMATION. At the March Town Board meeting, Attorney Perkins said that changes to the New York State technology law, effective in December 2005, require municipalities to "adopt a notification policy no more than one hundred twenty days after the effective date of this section. [Dec 7, 2005]" Perkins introduced the law. The only discussion was "Cl Christofferson noted the Town should have an inventory of what personal and confidential information it has and where it is, and should ask the staff to come with a plan on how to address that." Public Hearing was set for the April meeting. The Public Hearing was opened at 7:05PM at the April meeting. There was no discussion. The hearing was closed at 7:16PM and a resolution adopting Public Law #1 was passed. (Total time from draft to law: I don't know how long Atty Perkins worked on it prior to its introduction, but from its first mention to the Town Board to passage was a total of one month.)

AND RELATED FACILITIES was drafted in January 2006 with consultation among Cl Christofferson, Zoning Officer Henry Slater and Telecommunications Consultant Jeff Kirby. The text of the proposed law was distributed to the Town Board, Attorney Perkins, the Conservation Council and the Planning Board in February. It was reviewed by the Conservation Council and the Planning Board in February. Atty Perkins reviewed the language in February and introduced the law at the March Town Board meeting. Public hearing was scheduled for the April Town Board meeting. When the hearing was opened "Atty Perkins said this local law re-states in part Local Law 2 of 1998 and Local Law 4 of 2004. It revises some of the definitions that have been troublesome over the years." There was no discussion and a resolution adopting the law was passed. (Total time from draft to law: four months.)

3. A local law ESTABLISHING THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS was drafted in January. Zoning Officer Henry Slater contacted those organizations and agencies that currently are authorized to provide that service to the Town. He received a supporting letter from the NYS Board of Fire Underwriters in February and distributed it, with a copy of the proposed law, to the Town Board in February. At the March Town Board meeting, Atty Perkins presented the law. There was a brief discussion of the qualifications of journeyman electricians vs certification by the The International Association of Electrical Inspectors. The Town Board asked that The board asked that the law be revised to omit the part about being a recognized journeyman electrician for at least five years and asked that it be ready to be introduced next month. It was introduced at the April meeting and public hearing was scheduled for the May meeting. (Total time from draft to law - assuming it passes in May will be five months).

My point is this: if we're very industrious, very careful and everyone cooperates, we could expect to pass an alternative energy ordinance in August. Since every hesitation can cost a full month between Town Board meetings, there's little room for error if we hope to make construction this season possible for residents now being delayed.


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