In New Scotland, multiple laws get Aug. 10 public hearing

— From YouTube

If all goes well, the town of New Scotland hopes to be streaming its in-person public board meetings by next month. 

NEW SCOTLAND — The town board’s Aug. 10 meeting should be a busy one as members consider a series of new laws.

 In addition to what’s likely to be the most controversial bill the town board takes up next month — on policing lawns and trash (see related story) — it will also hold public hearings on laws related to recording of meetings and residents looking to engage the town in litigation.

“The state passed a law a couple months ago that allows … municipalities to pass their own local law and policy for video conferencing,” Councilman Dan Leinung said during the July 13 town board meeting. 

The proposed law would allow members of New Scotland’s public boards to participate in meetings by videoconference when a quorum of members are present at the meeting’s physical location and the member or members seeking to participate remotely “satisfy one of the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ that prevent physical presence,” according to the proposed law. 

An “extraordinary circumstance” includes but is not limited to: disability, illness, quarantine order, or “any other significant or unexpected factor that may preclude physical attendance.” 

The proposed law states the public must be able to access virtual meetings if a board member is joining remotely but, as for New Scotland just streaming all of its meetings for the public regardless of board members’ attendance, Leinung, who spearheaded the initiative for the town, told The Enterprise, New Scotland has the technology to do it, “we just haven’t done a trial run of it yet.”

He said the town is still trying to figure out how to run the more “hybrid-type meetings,” where a member tries to Zoom in and participate with the rest of an  in-person board. “To be honest, on the town board level, we don’t really expect it too much,” Leinung said of remote participation. “If someone’s not around, it’s really because they’re not available.”

But Leinung said members of New Scotland’s planning and zoning boards expressed interest in the remote option because it would allow for far-flung experts to Zoom into meetings. 

“Either way, we’re going to be webcasting every meeting going forward; we still have to get all the logistics [in place],” he said.

Leinung said he hopes to be able to stream the board’s August meeting. 


Town tightens law to avoid injury claims 

New Scotland is toughening up its law on residents’ obligation to inform the town of defects to its highways, bridges, streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, and culverts before any payments could be awarded for injuries.

Proposed Local Law B of 2022, titled “A Local Law Amending the Code of the Town of New Scotland regarding Notification of Defects and Civil Actions Against Town and Record of Written Notices,” states that “unless written notice of such defective, unsafe, dangerous, or obstructed condition … was actually given to the Town Clerk or Superintendent of Highways…,” then “no civil action shall be maintained against the Town of New Scotland or the Superintendent of Highways for damages or injuries to person or property….”

The move is patterned on state law, and is similar to one passed by Guilderland in February


Other business

In other business, the town board:

— Heard from Councilman William Hennessy that the Hilton Barn project is moving along.

“The architect will hopefully be done before the end of the month with the recommended design for the renovation of the barn,” Hennessy said. “Generally speaking, that includes interior corridor development, bathroom development, siding replacement on the lower level, siding repairs and painting on the upper level, and floors.”

 Hennessy thanked Guyer for connecting the Kensington Woods Development to the rail trail, and said he’d been involved in discussions with the county about connecting the Hilton Barn to the county’s rail trail as well;

— Will be looking for a new alternate planning board member now that long-time alternate Robert Davies has stepped down. The term runs through the end of 2023; and

— Heard from Councilman Adam Greenberg that the town recently received its second American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) payment of $301,000, bringing New Scotland’s total to about $602,000

“We will be setting up workshops, I think around budget season … to talk about how we want to allocate those funds,” Greenberg said.

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