The Town of Orangetown continued to pursue its goal of purchasing the remaining land owned by the state within the Rockland Psychiatric Center Monday.
Three members of the town board were present for the special meeting -- Supervisor Andy Stewart and Councilmen Tom Diviny and Paul Valentine -- and they voted 3-0 to pass a resolution approving the submission of an amended home rule request regarding the sale of state-owned lands within the Rockland Psychiatric Center or Rockland Children's Psychiatric Center.
The state legislation is Assembly Bill A 10009 and Senate Bill S 7170.
The Orangetown Council had been pursuing legislation that would give the town the right of first refusal, but legislation before the Assembly that would have granted that included provisions the board found unacceptable. This is another option.
"This does not give the town right of first refusal," Orangetown Town Attorney John Edwards said. "It allows the commissioner to sell to the town outside of certain restrictions in public lands law.
"The other bill as modified by the assembly committee chair (Assemblyman Steve Englebright of Suffolk County) was problematic on a number of levels."
The primary concern is that to get right of first refusal, the town would have had to agree to a 600 foot "buffer" between the land it develops and the reservoir.
"That means we couldn't develop the land for 600 feet," Diviny said. "Lot one, which we would want to sell, it would be cut in half. Why someone in Suffolk County is so interested in how we try to revitalize RPC is beyond me."
"None of us felt comfortable being encumbered by that," Stewart said.
The town board had to call the special meeting because time is a factor with the Assembly session ending soon. The town will likely try again for right of first refusal in the fall.
"This is a step in the right direction," Valentine said. "As long as we can go back and seek that again in the new session, why not do this and maybe over the summer work on (right of first refusal)."
Edwards said the board was able to pass the resolution with only three members present because Stewart proposed it. Otherwise it would take 2/3 of the council, which would mean at least four votes in favor.