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A09943 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                     April 26, 2024
        Introduced by M. of A. THIELE -- read once and referred to the Committee
          on Local Governments -- reported and referred to the Committee on Ways
          and  Means -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as
          amended and recommitted to said committee
        AN ACT to amend the town law, in relation  to  the  Peconic  Bay  region
          community preservation funds; and to repeal certain provisions of such
          law relating thereto
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. Subdivisions 1 and 3 of section 64-e of the  town  law,  as
     2  amended by chapter 551 of the laws of 2015, paragraph (e) of subdivision
     3  1 as separately amended by chapters 490 and 501 of the laws of 2018, are
     4  amended to read as follows:
     5    1.  As  used in this section, the following words and terms shall have
     6  the following meanings:
     7    (a) "Peconic Bay region" means the towns of East  Hampton,  Riverhead,
     8  Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold.
     9    (b)  "Community  preservation"  shall  mean  and  include  any  of the
    10  purposes outlined in subdivision four of this section.
    11    (c) "Board" means the advisory board required pursuant to  subdivision
    12  five of this section.
    13    (d)  "Fund"  means the community preservation fund created pursuant to
    14  subdivision two of this section.
    15    (e) "Water quality improvement project" means[: (1) wastewater  treat-
    16  ment  improvement  projects;  (2) non-point source abatement and control
    17  program projects developed pursuant to section eleven-b of the soil  and
    18  water conservation districts law, title 14 of article 17 of the environ-
    19  mental  conservation  law,  section  1455b  of  the federal coastal zone
    20  management act, or article forty-two of the executive law;  (3)  aquatic
    21  habitat restoration projects; (4) pollution prevention projects; (5) the
    22  construction  of  public water mains and connections to provide drinking
    23  water to inhabitants whose drinking water supply has  been  contaminated
    24  by  toxic  chemicals  as defined in section 37-0301 of the environmental
    25  conservation law, hazardous substances as defined in section 40-0105  of
    26  the  environmental  conservation law or emerging contaminants as defined
    27  in section eleven hundred twelve of the public health law; and  (6)  the
    28  operation  of the Peconic Bay National Estuary Program, as designated by

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 9943--A                          2

     1  the United States Environmental Protection  Agency;  and  (6)  a  septic
     2  system  replacement  loan  program, pursuant to section sixty-four-ee of
     3  the town law. Such projects shall have as their purpose the  improvement
     4  of existing water quality to meet existing specific water quality stand-
     5  ards.  Projects  which  have  as  a purpose to permit or accommodate new
     6  growth shall not be included within this definition.
     7    (f) "Wastewater treatment improvement  project"  means  the  planning,
     8  design, construction, acquisition, enlargement, extension, or alteration
     9  of  a  wastewater treatment facility, including alternative systems to a
    10  sewage treatment plant or traditional septic system, to treat,  neutral-
    11  ize, stabilize, eliminate or partially eliminate sewage or reduce pollu-
    12  tants  in  treatment  facility  effluent,  including  permanent or pilot
    13  demonstration wastewater treatment projects, or equipment or furnishings
    14  thereof. Stormwater collecting systems and vessel pumpout stations shall
    15  also be included within  the  definition  of  a  wastewater  improvement
    16  project.
    17    (g)  "Aquatic habitat restoration project" means the planning, design,
    18  construction, management, maintenance,  reconstruction,  revitalization,
    19  or  rejuvenation  activities  intended to improve waters of the state of
    20  ecological significance or any part thereof, including, but not  limited
    21  to  ponds,  bogs,  wetlands, bays, sounds, streams, rivers, or lakes and
    22  shorelines thereof, to support a spawning, nursery, wintering,  migrato-
    23  ry,  nesting,  breeding,  feeding,  or foraging environment for fish and
    24  wildlife and other biota.
    25    (h)  "Pollution  prevention  project"  means  the  planning,   design,
    26  construction,  improvement,  maintenance  or  acquisition of facilities,
    27  production processes, equipment or buildings owned or operated by  muni-
    28  cipalities  for  the  reduction, avoidance, or elimination of the use of
    29  toxic or hazardous substances or the generation of  such  substances  or
    30  pollutants  so  as  to reduce risks to public health or the environment,
    31  including  changes  in  production  processes  or  raw  materials;  such
    32  projects  shall  not  include  incineration, transfer from one medium of
    33  release or discharge to another medium,  off-site  or  out-of-production
    34  recycling, end-of-pipe treatment or pollution control.
    35    (i)  "Stormwater  collecting system" means systems of conduits and all
    36  other  construction,  devices,  and  appliances   appurtenant   thereto,
    37  designed  and  used  to  collect and carry stormwater and surface water,
    38  street wash, and other wash and drainage waters to a  point  source  for
    39  discharge.
    40    (j) "Vessel pumpout station" means a project for the planning, design,
    41  acquisition or construction of a permanent or portable device capable of
    42  removing  human  sewage from a marine holding tank] projects designed to
    43  improve the quality of drinking and surface waters and projects, includ-
    44  ing operational expenses, related to the operation of  the  Peconic  Bay
    45  National  Estuary  Program,  as designated by the United States Environ-
    46  mental Protection Agency.
    47    (f) "Disadvantaged communities" shall mean a community that is identi-
    48  fied pursuant to section 75-0111 of the environmental conservation law.
    49    3. The purposes of the fund shall be exclusively, (a) to  implement  a
    50  plan  for  the  preservation  of community character as required by this
    51  section, (b) to acquire interests or rights in  real  property  for  the
    52  preservation  of  community character within the town including villages
    53  therein in accordance with such plan and  in  cooperation  with  willing
    54  sellers,  (c)  to establish a bank pursuant to a transfer of development
    55  rights program consistent with section two hundred sixty-one-a  of  this
    56  chapter,  (d)  to  provide a management and stewardship program for such

        A. 9943--A                          3
     1  interests and rights consistent with subdivisions  nine  and  nine-a  of
     2  this  section  and  in  accordance  with  such plan designed to preserve
     3  community character; provided that not more than ten percent of the fund
     4  shall be utilized for the management and stewardship program, and (e) to
     5  implement  water  quality improvement projects in accordance with a plan
     6  to preserve community character. A maximum of twenty (20) percent of the
     7  fund may be utilized for the implementation of water quality improvement
     8  projects; provided that where such water quality improvement  funds  are
     9  utilized  for the operation of the Peconic Bay National Estuary Program,
    10  the use of such funds shall only be utilized to  match  federal,  state,
    11  county,  or  other public or private funds on a dollar for dollar basis,
    12  not to exceed ten (10) percent of the  annual  amount  appropriated  for
    13  water  quality  improvement  projects.  Unused funds allocated for water
    14  quality improvement projects pursuant to this subdivision may be carried
    15  forward from year to year for utilization in future  budgets.  In  towns
    16  with  one  or  more  disadvantaged  communities,  not less than ten (10)
    17  percent of the annual proceeds of the fund shall be utilized to  benefit
    18  such  disadvantaged  communities. If the implementation of the community
    19  preservation project plan, adopted by  a  town  board,  as  provided  in
    20  subdivision  six  of  this section, has been completed, and funds are no
    21  longer needed for the purposes outlined in this  subdivision,  then  any
    22  remaining  monies  in  the  fund  shall  be applied to reduce any bonded
    23  indebtedness or obligations incurred to effectuate the purposes of  this
    24  section.
    25    §  2.  Subdivision  4  of  section 64-e of the town law, as amended by
    26  chapter 255 of the laws of 2020, is amended to read as follows:
    27    4. Preservation of community character shall involve one  or  more  of
    28  the  following:  (a) establishment of parks, nature preserves, or recre-
    29  ation areas; (b) preservation  of  open  space,  including  agricultural
    30  lands provided, however, that farm buildings and structures used for the
    31  marketing  of farm products produced on such agricultural lands shall be
    32  permitted; (c) preservation of lands of exceptional  scenic  value;  (d)
    33  preservation of fresh and saltwater marshes or other wetlands; (e) pres-
    34  ervation  of  aquifer  recharge  areas;  (f) preservation of undeveloped
    35  beachlands or shoreline including those at significant risk  of  coastal
    36  flooding  due  to projected sea level rise and future storms; (g) estab-
    37  lishment of wildlife refuges  for  the  purpose  of  maintaining  native
    38  animal  species diversity, including the protection of habitat essential
    39  to the recovery of rare, threatened or endangered species; (h) preserva-
    40  tion of pine barrens consisting of such biota as pitch pine,  and  scrub
    41  oak;  (i)  preservation  of  unique  or threatened ecological areas; (j)
    42  preservation of rivers and river areas in a natural, free-flowing condi-
    43  tion; (k) preservation of forested  land;  (l)  preservation  of  public
    44  access  to  lands  for public use including stream rights and waterways;
    45  (m) preservation of historic places and properties  listed  on  the  New
    46  York  state register of historic places and/or protected under a munici-
    47  pal historic preservation ordinance or law; (n)  preservation  of  lands
    48  necessary  to  protect  fisheries  and water dependent uses essential to
    49  maintain and enhance maritime heritage; [and] (o) preservation of  lands
    50  that  contain  significant  cultural  resources including the aboriginal
    51  lands of indigenous peoples, including but not limited to, burial sites,
    52  settlements, and lands utilized for ceremonial purposes; and (p)  under-
    53  taking  any of the aforementioned in furtherance of the establishment of
    54  a greenbelt.  Preservation of community character shall also include the
    55  protection and improvement of the quality of all water resources.

        A. 9943--A                          4
     1    § 3. Subdivision 9 of section 64-e of the town law is REPEALED  and  a
     2  new subdivision 9 is added to read as follows:
     3    9.  (a)  Lands acquired pursuant to this section shall be administered
     4  and managed in a manner which maximizes public use and  enjoyment  in  a
     5  manner compatible with the character of such lands.
     6    (b)  Lands  acquired for open space purposes shall preserve the native
     7  biological diversity of such lands.
     8    (c) With regard to lands acquired for open space purposes improvements
     9  shall be limited to minimal improvements that enhance access for passive
    10  use of such lands. Such improvements shall not  degrade  the  ecological
    11  value of the land or threaten essential wildlife habitat.
    12    (d)  Historic and cultural property shall be preserved consistent with
    13  accepted standards for historic preservation.  Adaptive  reuse  of  such
    14  properties shall be consistent with the historic character and prior use
    15  of  the  property  and shall be consistent with all local land use plans
    16  and regulations. Such historic and cultural  properties  shall  maximize
    17  public use to the extent practicable.
    18    (e)  In  furthering  the  purposes of this section, the town may enter
    19  into agreements with corporations  organized  under  the  not-for-profit
    20  corporation  law and engaged in preservation activities to manage lands,
    21  including less than fee interests acquired pursuant to the provisions of
    22  this section, provided that any such agreement shall contain a provision
    23  that such corporation shall keep the  lands  accessible  to  the  public
    24  unless  such  corporation  shall  demonstrate to the satisfaction of the
    25  town that public accessibility would be detrimental to the lands or  any
    26  historic,  cultural,  or  natural  resources associated therewith. Where
    27  revenues are generated by such corporations on such  lands  pursuant  to
    28  such  agreements,  disposition of such revenues shall be governed by the
    29  town pursuant to resolution or local law.
    30    § 4. Subdivision 9-a of section 64-e of the town law is REPEALED and a
    31  new subdivision 9-a is added to read as follows:
    32    9-a. (a) Management and stewardship funds may  only  be  expended  for
    33  projects  related  to  lands  acquired  for  open space preservation and
    34  historic preservation purposes. Lands acquired  for  any  other  purpose
    35  shall  not be eligible for management and stewardship funds. In the case
    36  of lands acquired for open space preservation purposes,  management  and
    37  stewardship  projects  shall  be  only  expended for: (1) projects which
    38  promote the protection or enhancement of the natural, scenic,  and  open
    39  space  character for which the interests or rights in real property were
    40  acquired; or (2) minimal improvements as permitted by  subdivision  nine
    41  of  this  section;  or  (3) restoration of acquired real property to its
    42  natural state including the demolition of existing buildings and  struc-
    43  tures.
    44    (b)  In  the case of interests or rights in real property acquired for
    45  historic preservation purposes, funds may be expended for  the  restora-
    46  tion,   rehabilitation,  or  replacement  of  buildings  and  structures
    47  consistent with accepted standards for historic preservation.
    48    (c) Expenses related to the customary  operation  and  maintenance  of
    49  acquired  interests  or  rights  in real property shall not be permitted
    50  from the management and stewardship portion of the fund, except that  in
    51  the  case  of  historic  properties,  where the town has entered into an
    52  agreement with a not-for profit corporation for the management  of  such
    53  properties as permitted by subdivision nine of this section, up to twen-
    54  ty (20) percent of the management and stewardship portion of the fund or
    55  two  (2)  percent  of the total annual revenue of the fund, may be dedi-
    56  cated to the operation and maintenance of stewardship properties managed

        A. 9943--A                          5
     1  by such corporations.  Where a town enters into  an  agreement  for  the
     2  management of an historic property with a not-for-profit corporation and
     3  the  town  allocates  management and stewardship funds for the operation
     4  and  maintenance of such historic property, said corporation shall annu-
     5  ally provide for a full accounting of such funds to the town board.
     6    (d) Any project funded pursuant to this subdivision, except  operation
     7  and  maintenance  expenses  permitted  pursuant to paragraph (c) of this
     8  subdivision, must have a useful life of five years or more under section
     9  11.00 of the local finance law.
    10    (e) Any expenditure from the  fund  for  a  purpose  other  than  that
    11  permitted, herein, shall be deemed to be prohibited.
    12    §  5. Subdivision 11 of section 64-e of the town law is REPEALED and a
    13  new subdivision 11 is added to read as follows:
    14    11. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the  contrary,  towns  may
    15  enter  into  intermunicipal agreements pursuant to article five-G of the
    16  general municipal law for the following purposes:
    17    (a) to jointly acquire interests or rights in real property,  consist-
    18  ent  with  the  purposes  of this section, where the acquisition of such
    19  interests or rights promotes a regional public benefit for two  or  more
    20  towns pursuant to a regional plan;
    21    (b) to provide for an independent financial audit of each town's fund;
    22  and
    23    (c)  to  hire  employees necessary to implement the provisions of this
    24  section.
    25    § 6. Section 64-e of the town law is amended by adding a new  subdivi-
    26  sion 14 to read as follows:
    27    14.  (a)  The towns in the Peconic Bay region shall jointly establish,
    28  by intermunicipal agreement, the office of regional community  preserva-
    29  tion fund counsel to render legal opinions and interpretations to facil-
    30  itate  the  efficient and consistent administration of the funds created
    31  pursuant to this section. All such opinions and interpretations rendered
    32  shall be published on each town's official website and shall  be  avail-
    33  able  to  the  public as a public record under article six of the public
    34  officers law.
    35    (b) The towns in the Peconic Bay region shall  jointly  establish,  by
    36  intermunicipal  agreement,  the Peconic Bay Region Advisory Committee to
    37  advise town boards regarding policy and administrative  issues  relating
    38  to  funds  established  pursuant  to  this  section. The committee shall
    39  consist of eleven (11) members. The  members  shall  include  each  Town
    40  Supervisor  or  designee,  a  representative of village government to be
    41  jointly selected by the villages in the Peconic Bay region and five  (5)
    42  members  to be selected by the state legislative representatives repres-
    43  enting the Peconic Bay region with expertise in land preservation, envi-
    44  ronmental protection, water quality  protection,  agriculture,  historic
    45  preservation, or parks and recreation. The committee shall elect a chair
    46  from  among  its  members.  Said committee shall meet at least quarterly
    47  each year. The office of regional community  preservation  fund  counsel
    48  shall  attend  the meetings of the committee and shall be further avail-
    49  able to the committee chair for additional consultations. The  committee
    50  shall  be empowered to establish the rules for its operation, consistent
    51  with this section.
    52    (c) The office and committee required to be  established  pursuant  to
    53  this  subdivision  shall  be implemented no later than ninety days after
    54  the effective date of this subdivision.
    55    § 7. This act shall take effect immediately.
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