Posted by: Patricia Salkin | August 15, 2008

First Test of 1991 Act Providing for Indemnification of Participating Communities in the Regional Hudson River Valley Greenway Compact

First Test of 1991 Act Providing for Indemnification of Participating Communities in the Regional Hudson River Valley Greenway Compact


The Greenway Compact is a program that helps to reinforce regional concerns in the local planning process and is a central objective of the 1991 Greenway Act.  The Greenway Compact is a voluntary regional planning vision developed in partnership with counties, local communities and the Greenway.   Approved in March 2000, Dutchess County’s Greenway Connections was the Hudson River Valley’s first Greenway Compact plan.  To date, 30 of the 31 communities in Dutchess County have adopted Dutchess County’s Greenway Compact plan.


To become a participating Greenway Compact Community, a community must pass a local law to incorporate an approved Greenway Compact Plan into their local zoning and subdivision regulations.  Dutchess, Westchester and Putnam Counties have approved Greenway Compact plans.  Ulster County is in the early stages of developing a Compact Plan.   Currently, there are a total of 56 participating Greenway Compact Communities within the three counties with approved Greenway Compact Plans.  Communities within counties that have no approved Greenway Compact plan or have not adopted such a plan can still be considered a “Greenway Community.”  To date, 250 communities of the 293 eligible have become “Greenway Communities.”  To become “Greenway Community” municipalities pass a resolution supporting the Greenway Criteria and the voluntary process by which the Compact will be achieved.


A key incentive for participation has been the provision outlined in § 44-0119.7 of the Environmental Conservation Law which states, “For each such participating community there shall be indemnity from the state in the event of legal actions brought against the community or its agents that may result from the community’s acquisition of land consistent with its regional plan or the adoption or implementation of any land use control including, but not limited to, a zoning law or ordinance.”  This indemnity provision, which originally included a sunset clause, has been extended several times.  


The Hudson River Valley Greenway, the State entity charged with administering the law, announced this week that the Town of Milan (Dutchess County) is the first Greenway Compact Community to be represented by the Office of the Attorney General under the Greenway Indemnity provision. The Milan Town Board passed a resolution Monday instructing the Supervisor to submit a letter to the Office of the Attorney General requesting representation.  The Town’s recent comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance updates were declared null and void in a March 27th decision by State Supreme Court Justice James V. Brands.   In April, the Milan Town Board adopted a resolution invoking the provisions of the Hudson River Valley Greenway legislation that provides indemnity for Greenway Compact communities for legal actions brought against them relating to adoption or implementation of local land use controls.    The Greenway submitted the Town of Milan’s request and the Office of the Attorney General has determined that it would be appropriate to represent Milan in the appeal. 

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