[HISTORY: Adopted by the North Hempstead Town Board 9-19-2000 by L.L. No. 13-2000. This local law was approved by the voters at a referendum held 11-7-2000. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Environmental quality review — See Ch. 20.
The Town Board of the Town of North Hempstead, pursuant to New York State General Municipal Law, Article 2, General Municipal Finances, hereby establishes funds for the purpose of funding the acquisition of land for open space preservation, the restoration and protection of environmentally sensitive areas and the improvement and enhancement of coastal areas and waterways, as such are defined and regulated by various sections of New York State law, subject to, and pursuant to, the approval of the electors of the town in a public referendum, held pursuant to Town Law § 64, Subdivision 2, § 91, § 94 and § 220, and all other applicable statutes of the laws of the State of New York.
Continuing development within the town has demonstrated a compelling need to preserve open space, to assure the continued availability of adequate amounts and diversity of parkland for active and passive recreational use and the aesthetic enjoyment of such lands and for the town to fulfill its environmental stewardship responsibilities, enhance the general quality of life and the environment of the town, attract and retain economic development, manage growth, preserve neighborhoods and community character and thereby benefit the residents and taxpayers of the town. The need for the restoration and protection of environmentally sensitive areas and the improvement and enhancement of coastal areas and waterways has also been demonstrated. In order to achieve these goals, the town requires a cogent mechanism creating the capacity to purchase land, easements or other real property rights and interests quickly and efficiently, and make original improvements and enhancements thereto and perform restoration, protection, improvement and enhancement projects as the need arises and opportunities are identified, as appropriate fiscal planning is an essential component of fulfilling these environmental goals.
The Town Board hereby finds that, in order to more effectively implement the powers and authorities granted towns by New York State General Municipal Law § 247, which recognizes the value of open space areas and the need to preserve such land, and empowers municipalities with authority to acquire real property to preserve as open space, and to more effectively implement the powers and authorities granted to towns by various sections of New York State Town Law, which recognize the value of open space, parkland, environmentally sensitive areas, coastal areas and waterways and empowers municipalities with authority to provide for original improvement and enhancement of such areas and lands, including acquisition of real property and/or rights and interest in real property for such purposes, the establishment and management of dedicated environmental legacy funds pursuant to the laws of the State of New York is necessary.
Fund accounts. The Town Comptroller shall establish and maintain separately designated accounts pursuant to General Municipal Law § 6-c, to be known as the "environmental legacy fund accounts," and may establish one or several such accounts for the purposes set forth herein, as may be required by proper accounting procedures.
Scope of fund. These accounts shall be used to find the acquisition, protection, expansion and maintenance of ownership, rights and interests in real property in the town's remaining open space, natural areas, wetlands, trails, coastal areas, waterfronts and greenway corridors, and to fund the acquisition, protection and maintenance of ownership, rights and interests in real property, and for the restoration, protection, improvement and enhancement of environmentally sensitive areas, coastal areas and waterways. Said expenditures may be made directly from dedicated, general and special revenues, and need not be bonded, in the sole discretion of the Town Board.
Deposits. These accounts shall be the repository for all revenues specifically designated for expenditure by the town for the purposes set forth herein, including bond proceeds, dedicated fees, general or special municipal revenues and from such sources not derived from real property taxes as the Town Board may determine, in its sole discretion, where permitted by the laws of the State of New York, including but not limited to those set forth hereinbelow.
Additional deposits. The Town shall also pursue and attract, for deposit in and use in accordance with this fund, where permitted by the laws of the State of New York, additional funds, gifts and grants from foundations, private donations, any additional private or public sources and federal, state and county matching funds.
Prohibitions. Moneys from this fund shall not be used for any purposes which are not specifically set forth in this chapter.
Fund accounts. The Town Comptroller shall establish and maintain separately designated accounts, pursuant to New York State General Municipal Law § 6-h, to be known as the "environmental legacy debt reserve fund accounts," and may establish one or several such accounts for the purposes set forth herein, as may be required by proper accounting procedures.
Scope of fund. These accounts shall be used, pursuant to New York State General Municipal Law § 6-h, to accumulate all or any part of the revenues designated by the Town Board for payment of any bonded indebtedness incurred by the town in pursuing the purposes set forth herein.
Deposits. These accounts shall be the repository for revenues collected by the town through real property taxes assessed against the whole town tax rate, commencing December 1, 2000, and from such sources not derived from real property taxes, as the Town Board may determine, in its sole discretion, where permitted by the laws of the State of New York. Except for moneys derived from the issuance and sale of serial bonds, revenues shall be transferred from the above-referenced capital fund accounts, as the Town Board may determine to be necessary, in its sole discretion.
Prohibition. Moneys from this fund shall not be used for any purposes other than payment of any bonded indebtedness incurred pursuant of the purposes of this chapter.
No expenditures shall be made from the Environmental Legacy Capital Fund or the Environmental Legacy Debt Reserve Fund except upon the specific authorization of the Town Board, subject to permissive referendum to the extent required by applicable law, pursuant to and for the purposes described in this chapter, and based upon the recommendations of the Advisory Review Committee for the Environmental Legacy Fund established hereunder, hereinafter referred to as the "Advisory Review Committee." In authorizing such expenditures, the Town Board shall make findings pursuant to the criteria utilized by the Advisory Review Committee as set forth herein.
Advisory Review Committee.
The Town Board shall appoint an Advisory Review Committee composed of the following: the Supervisor shall nominate four representatives reflecting the town's geographic and demographic diversity; each other Town Board member shall nominate one representative from a local civic association or from an environmental organization; there shall be one representative each from the Town Ecological Commission, the Town Waterfront Advisory Commission, the New York State Assembly Commission on Water Resources Needs of Long Island, or similar Assembly commission, and the New York State Senate Committee on Water Resources Needs of Long Island, or similar Senate committee; and the following shall be ex-officio members: a representative of the Supervisor's Office, the Town Attorney, the Commissioner of Parks, the Commissioner of Planning and the Commissioner of Public Works. The Supervisor shall appoint the Chairperson of the Advisory Review Committee. Initial appointments to the Advisory Review Committee shall be made no later than January 1, 2001. In any event, the Advisory Review Committee shall meet as soon as practicable after a majority of members has been appointed.
Except for the ex-officio members, each other person appointed to the Advisory Review Committee shall serve a three-year term. Upon the expiration of such term, the Town Board may appoint a replacement, nominated pursuant to Subsection (2)(a) above, or may reappoint a member of the Advisory Review Committee. A member of the Advisory Review Committee may continue to serve after the expiration of the member's term until reappointment or a replacement is appointed.
Advisory Review Committee for the Environmental Legacy Fund.
The duty and responsibility of the Advisory Review Committee is to provide a reasoned and balanced review of projects to be funded by the Environmental Legacy Fund for the benefit and enjoyment of the residents of the town. In furtherance of its duties and responsibilities, the Advisory Review Committee shall:
Make and solicit recommendations and nominations for projects.
Seek public input as part of the review process.
Evaluate eligible projects according to the criteria developed for the review of projects.
Fairly apportion the recommendation of funding for projects throughout the town.
Make timely recommendations to the Town Board for the expenditure of Environmental Legacy Fund as authorized by this chapter.
The Advisory Review Committee established hereunder shall utilize and apply the criteria set forth herein in making recommendations to the Town Board for the expenditure of funds for the acquisition of land or an interest therein for open space preservation and the restoration, protection, improvement or enhancement of environmentally sensitive areas, coastal areas and waterways. All members of the Advisory Review Committee shall be voting members for the purposes of making any such recommendations to the Town Board.
The members of the Advisory Review Committee shall serve pursuant to any appointing resolutions adopted hereby, shall be responsible and responsive to the Supervisor and Town Board and shall faithfully fulfill their duties as set forth herein. No member of the Advisory Review Committee shall receive any compensation or salary for service thereon and all members shall be subject to the Town Code of Ethics with respect to their actions and participation on the Advisory Review Committee. The Town shall make available to the Advisory Review Committee such aid and assistance as is reasonably necessary to allow the Committee to carry out its duties and responsibilities.
The Advisory Review Committee shall perform its duties pursuant to bylaws and procedures provided by the Town Planning Department and shall cease to exist upon the expenditure of all of the funds in the environmental legacy fund accounts.
Town Comptroller. The Town Comptroller shall have the power to invest, from time to time, the moneys of these funds, in accordance with General Municipal Law, Article 2, General Municipal Finances, and any other appropriate statutes of the laws of the State of New York.
Town parks. All real properties purchased in fee for park purposes with monies from these funds shall become dedicated as parklands, which may then be alienated only with the approval of New York State legislation, and shall be maintained by the Town Department of Parks.
Open space and parkland acquisition criteria. The following criteria shall be utilized in determining whether parcels of land, or any interest therein, should be acquired for open space and parkland by the funds:
Acquisition of new conservation or recreation land(s) and/or additions to existing parks and preserves.
Acquisition to provide connections, buffers, linear and/or trail corridors, to network existing protected open space or parkland.
Acquisition to protect and enhance important natural areas of important environmental significance or with rare or unique natural features, including coastal areas, aquifer protection areas, waterfronts, woodlands, historic, cultural or existing recreational resources.
Acquisition to further the goals contained in the State Open Space Conservation Plan, State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, State Special Groundwater Protection Plan, Nassau County Comprehensive Plan, Nassau County Groundwater Study or any other similar federal, state or county plans/programs, including those for which matching funding may be available to the town.
Acquisition to meet the needs and goals identified by the Town Master Plan.
Acquisition to respond to a plan adopted by the Town Board, or formal recommendation(s) from any Town Board-appointed advisory committee, or an acquisition for which matching funds are assured.
Improvement and environmental enhancement criteria. The following criteria shall be utilized in determining whether improvement or environmental enhancement projects for an environmentally sensitive area, coastal area, waterway or recreational facility should be funded:
The project will improve/enhance environmentally sensitive areas or new or existing active or passive recreation lands, including open space, parks, coastal areas, beaches, waterfronts, waterways, wetlands, essential habitats and marinas.
The project will further goals contained in the Town Master plan, State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, Nassau County Comprehensive Plan or other similar federal, state or county plans or programs, including those for which matching funding may be available to the town.
The project will meet the needs and goals identified in the Town Master Plan, Nassau County Comprehensive Plan, any water quality improvement plan and any subsequent related plans, inventories or updates of such plans or any other federal, state or county water quality improvement program, including those for which matching funds may be available.
The project will respond to a plan adopted by the Town Board (e.g., a specific park master plan), or formal recommendation(s) from any Town Board-appointed advisory committee, or a capital parkland project for which matching funds have been assured.
The project will restore or enhance degraded wetlands, essential habitats and environmentally sensitive areas.
The project will comply with all applicable standards and regulations, including the State Environmental Quality Review Act and the State Coastal Zone Management Act (and state and/or local waterfront revitalization plans drafted in conformance therewith).
These accounts shall cease to receive further funding after all bonded indebtedness incurred for the purposes of this chapter has been paid, unless the provisions of this chapter are extended by resolution of the Town Board in increments of five years. The Town Board may, in its sole discretion, prepay all bonded indebtedness, subject to the terms and conditions of such bonds, and terminate the funding of these accounts earlier than stated herein, upon adoption of a resolution determining to do so. If at any time the Town Board does not extend the funding for these accounts, the balances remaining therein shall be used for the purposes set forth hereinabove until they have been depleted.