Litigation update Summer 2013

The firm secured a precedent setting victory in obtaining the dismissal of a permissive referendum petition (“Referendum Petition”) brought by adjoining landowners who objected to a lease of municipal property for the construction of a wireless telecommunications tower. Taxpayer permissive referendum petitions are authorized under New York State Town Law Section 91 to challenge certain municipal actions such as the lease of municipal property. The firm’s litigation team commenced an Article 78 proceeding challenging the Referendum Petition, arguing that the Referendum Petition failed to comply with the applicable requirements of the New York State Election Law and Town Law. The Supreme Court of Putnam County agreed. The Court issued a decision which, among other things, stands for the proposition that a taxpayer petition requesting a permissive referendum may be declared null and void if the taxpayer petition does not include an “affirmative articulation of the objections upon which the Petition is founded.” There is no prior case law in the jurisdiction which sets forth this proposition so declaratively. The case has been published and the citation is Mathewson v. Town of Kent, 41 Misc.3d 572, 972 N.Y.S.2d 428 (Putnam Sup. 2013).