KIAMESHA LAKE – A referendum vote scheduled for Thursday that was set to determine the future of the proposed Village of Ateres in Kiamesha Lake has been cancelled following inaction by the State Assembly on a chapter amendment that would have allowed the vote to move forward.
Back in December, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill that imposed more stringent standards on the formation of villages in the state, including 2,000 petitioners rather than the former 500, and a fiscal socio-economic study.. Principally, the bill raises the minimum number of residents of a proposed new a threshold that Ateres would fail to meet. Despite the change, the new law did not pose a threat to Ateres because Hochul proposed an exemption, in the form of a chapter amendment, that exempted village petitions already scheduled for public referendum as of December 22, 2023, which is the same day the petition for Ateres was filed.
In order for the governor’s change to take effect, it must be adopted by both the Senate and Assembly. The Senate passed the chapter amendment on January 9, however, the Assembly gaveled out of session on Wednesday without taking up the measure. The Assembly’s failure to take up the chapter amendment means the prevailing law applies to all applications, including those scheduled for public referendum on or before December 22, thereby preventing Thursday’s referendum from moving forward.
On Wednesday afternoon, less than one day prior to the referendum, Thompson Town Supervisor Bill Rieber and Fallsburg Town Supervisor Michael Bensimon decided to adjourn the vote, without a reschedule date.
“It should be further noted that both I and Supervisor Bensimon waited until the last possible moment to take such action as we waited until the Assembly finished their term and will no longer be sitting in Albany at any time prior to tomorrow’s scheduled Referendum,” said Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber. “As previously stated, we are taking no definitive action on the matter until final determinations are made by the Assembly and at that point we will move forward pursuant to the Law, as it will exist.”
It is unclear whether or not the Assembly plans to take up the chapter amendment when it returns to session next week, however, absent the adoption of the amendment the vote to determine the fate of Ateres may not take place.
The proposed village would be 929 acres in size and would have a population of just over 830 and would span an area to include portions of the towns of Thompson and Fallsburg.
Source: Mid-Hudson News