AFTER INCORPORATION, EDGEMONT RESIDENTS WILL STILL HAVE PARKING PRIVILEGES AT THE HARTSDALE TRAIN STATION
The EIC has released a legal memorandum addressing how Edgemont’s incorporation would affect Edgemont residents’ parking privileges at commuter lots operated by the Hartsdale Public Parking District (“HPPD”). The full analysis is accessible at www.edgemont2018.org. The nutshell version is that because a sizeable portion of the HPPD would fall within the Village of Edgemont's boundaries, Edgemont would have the leverage to ensure sufficient parking for its residents.
For background: the HPPD is not a subdivision of Greenburgh, but rather an entirely separate legal entity known as a “special district.” A special district is an area within a town—funded by taxes, assessments, and/or user fees—that provides a municipal service such as water, fire, or (as here) parking. New York has nearly 7,000 special districts and Edgemont itself is served by several, including the HPPD, the Greenville Fire District, and the Greenburgh Consolidated Water District.
The HPPD owns and operates five parking facilities near the Hartsdale station. All the Bronx River Parkway spaces in Site D, and most (approximately 75%) of the Pipeline Road parking spaces in Site E, fall within the proposed boundaries of the Village of Edgemont. Together, these spaces amount to slightly under 40% of the total commuter parking spots. No other villages in Greenburgh have boundaries that overlap HPPD.
New York law specifically addresses the situation where—as here—a new village (Edgemont) incorporates, and some of the property of a pre-existing special district (HPPD) now falls within the boundaries of the new village. Under New York Town Law § 190, special districts cannot operate within the boundaries of incorporated villages without the consent of the village. Therefore, the HPPD could not continue operating Site D and 75% of Site E without the consent of Edgemont’s Board of Trustees.
So, what would happen after incorporation? There are two possibilities.
First, the Village of Edgemont and the HPPD could reach an arrangement (through an easement or leaseback agreement) that simply maintains the status quo. This would make sense for both sides. It would enable the HPPD to continue operating Sites D and E, and it would enable all HPPD permit-holders (including Edgemont residents) to continue parking in all of the HPPD parking facilities. New York law allows this approach: it simply says that special districts can’t keep operating in incorporated villages without consent. If the HPPD agreed to follow the status quo, the Village of Edgemont would have every reason to consent.
Second, if the HPPD decided against negotiating with Edgemont to maintain the status quo, Edgemont would not consent to the HPPD’s continued operation within Sites D and E. In that scenario, New York Village Law § 2-258 (and case law interpreting it) provides for an apportionment of special district assets and liabilities. Based on precedent, the logical and likely division would be for Edgemont to take ownership of the spaces within its boundaries (all of Site D and 75% of Site E), and become responsible for the accompanying share of the debt. The HPPD would keep the rest of its assets and debt.
With this second option, Edgemont would operate its own parking function, much like other villages do. The Site D and Site E spaces within our boundaries are sufficient to cover Edgemont demand. Edgemont residents currently hold about 38% of the commuter parking permits. And, with a small reconfiguration of Site D to change 8 spaces from metered parking to permit parking, the Site D and Site E spaces within our boundaries will together comprise about 38% of the total spots.
Edgemont’s annual debt service obligation would be some portion of the $450,000 owed by the HPPD through 2026. Notably, Edgemont would be entitled to the revenue from the permits and 100% of the cell phone lease fees related to the property within its borders, which would offset the debt service expense.
Unlike a conventional commercial real estate transaction, Village Law § 2-258 provides for an “apportionment” of special district property rather than a “purchase.” For example, the Village of Edgemont won’t have to purchase assets from the Greenville Fire District because our residents already “own” its assets and are responsible for its liabilities. Therefore, they transfer to the village. Similarly, Edgemont won’t be required to purchase the land within its own village borders from the HPPD. The only “cost” associated with the apportionment of special district assets is carrying a proportionate share of the annual $450,000 debt service. Moreover, if Edgemont and the HPPD cannot agree on the apportionment of the property and the debt, the Village Law permits either side to bring a suit in Westchester Supreme Court to determine the precise division.
Transition Period, Explained
One final point: New York Village Law § 2-252 specifically addresses how to deal with the transition period after incorporation. It states that until June 1 of the year following incorporation, the special district must continue to perform its functions and services in exactly the same way. In other words, if Edgemont incorporates in 2018, everything will remain entirely unchanged until at least June 1, 2019. That will provide ample time for the HPPD and the new Village of Edgemont to decide together how to proceed, as between the two options outlined above. Either way, Edgemont will have sufficient parking for its residents at the Hartsdale train station.
This summary was provided by Emily Gold Waldman, who is an Edgemont resident and a law professor at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.
The EIC asked a group of Edgemont attorneys, several of whom commute from Hartsdale, to review the conclusions of Duane Morris. Click here to review their statement.
The EIC has also created a FAQ on a Village of Edgemont's legal rights to the Hartsdale Public Parking District. Click here for that FAQ.