Members of the community attended the Village of Ateres public hearing held on Thursday, August 3, 2023.
THOMPSON- After a last-minute decision by State Supreme Court Judge Stephan Schick on Thursday morning, prompted by inaction by the State Assembly on a chapter amendment bill, the referendum vote on the formation of the proposed Village of Ateres was held. The unofficial results of the referendum: 226 to 2 in favor of forming the new village.
Despite the overwhelming margin by which the vote passed, there is question as to whether or not the results will stick.
In December 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new law raising population minimums for new villages to 2,000. If the new population minimums are applied to the Ateres proposal the threshold are not met and the application would be rejected, however, in signing the law, Hochul issued a chapter amendment that exempted the Ateres application from the new rules.
In order for Hochul’s amendment to be finalized, it has to be passed by both the State Senate and Assembly. The amendment passed the Senate in January, but never came for a vote in the Assembly prior to the scheduled referendum. Since the amendment wasn’t adopted prior to the referendum, Town of Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber and Town of Thompson Supervisor Michael Bensimon decided to cancel the referendum, claiming it was not permissible to hold the vote absent the chapter amendment’s approval. Following Judge Shick’s early morning decision on Thursday, the vote took place as scheduled.
The legal question as to whether or not the referendum was proper will determine the fate of the village, and election results are not expected to be certified until the court issues a determination.
If the vote stands, Ateres would encompass 929 acres and would have a population of just over 830. It’s borders would span portions of the towns of Thompson and Fallsburg.