Steinman’s Pro Bono Efforts Lead to Legislative Reforms for Village Incorporation Process

Lester D. Steinman, New York Municipal Lawyer

At the request of New York State Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart Cousins, Lester D. Steinman, a member of our Municipal Law & Land Use group, dedicated his time pro bono to collaborate with a team of students and staff from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University to recommend legislative reforms to the village incorporation  process. Completed in April 2023, “Village Incorporation in New York State: Legislative Options for Reform” examined the incorporation procedures and requirements set forth in Article 2 of the Village Law of the State of New York, compared them with other states’ laws and New York law on annexation and dissolution, reviewed case studies and other literature on village incorporation and documented prior unsuccessful efforts at legislative reform. Based upon this research, the Report recommended: 1) establishing a State Commission to preside over the village incorporation process; 2) basing decision-making for village incorporation on proper studies and analysis of the feasibility of creating a new government entity, that entity’s fiscal capacity to provide services and the fiscal, service and operational impacts on the surrounding town and region; 3) increasing the minimum population requirement to ensure village viability; and 4) eliminating property ownership as an independent basis for petitioning for village incorporation. In December 2023 and January 2024 , a package of bills implementing the Report’s recommendations (S7537, A7761; S7538, A7754; and S8001, A8573) were signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul.