No public referendum on Seneca Falls Town Hall project

The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division has thrown out an appeal seeking to reinstate a petition for a voter referendum on the proposed Seneca Falls town hall.Ruling on a motion from attorney Steven Getman, the court held on Tuesday (December 30) that the appeal should be dismissed on the ground that the appellant, former town board member Sue Sauvageau, had failed to perfect her appeal in a timely manner.Getman represented Seneca Falls town board member Chad Sanderson. In papers filed with the appeals court Getman argued that Sauvageau’s attorneys were required to complete the filing and other requirements for the appeal no later than September 22.Sauvageau’s notice of appeal was filed in July by Geneva attorney Mario Fratto. Neither Sauvageau nor her attorney sought an extension of the time to perfect the appeal or submitted an answer to the motion to dismiss.In April, Sauvageau and Joyce Brady had circulated a petition to force a vote on the town board’s March 18 decision to transfer $2.55 million from the capital reserve fund to the general fund for the construction of the new town hall. The town has been leasing space in the former St. Patrick’s School.In response, Sanderson, through Getman, filed objections to the referendum petition, alleging that the form and content was not in compliance with various legal requirements. These included a failure of the petition to require signers to affirm that their correct residence was next to their names and the failure of the witnesses to the petition to attest that each person who signed it had properly identified themselves to the witness.Acting on Sanderson’s objections, Acting Supreme Court Justice W. Patrick Falvey held in May that certain requirements cited by Sanderson were “essential” under the New York State law, to insure that only qualified voters of the Town had signed the petition. These requirements were not met, Falvey held, and the petition for a referendum was “fatally flawed.”In July, Sauvageau appealed Falvey’s decision. That triggered the September deadline to perfect the appeal. Getman noted that Sanderson had used his own money to fund the legal challenge to the referendum and to defend Sauvageau’s appeal, thereby saving the taxpayers the cost of the special election and legal fees associated with litigating the issue.

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