ROCHESTER – Lawyers from the Town of Ellicott and City of Jamestown made their oral arguments regarding the proposed annexation of the Jamestown BPU Substation on Dow Street in the Village of Falconer Wednesday morning in front of the New York State Fourth Appellate Division.
Pietra Lettierei Zaffram, the attorney for Ellicott, Falconer and Falconer Central School, said that the three-member panel of referees ruled correctly when they said that the annexation “wasn’t in the best interest of the public.” Attorney Stephanie Campbell, however, said that the panel was wrong and that it “failed to consider…the provision of municipal interest.”
One of the issues that Zaffram argued was that the City of Jamestown failed to file the necessary paperwork with the Chautauqua County Clerk’s Office within the required 30 days of the Town of Ellicott’s filing once it was determined that both sides disagreed on the proposed annexation. Campbell said the Town of Ellicott’s filing of their disapproval of the annexation was “premature” and that they didn’t have Jamestown’s differing stance, as required by the General Municipal Law.
“The City (of Jamestown) was on notice that there was a disagreement,” Zaffram said. “They should have known these filings had to occur….We’re not operating in a vacuum.” Zaffram said that the potential annexation garnered plenty of coverage from the local media.
Campbell acknowledged that the entire legal process regarding the proposal could start all over again, but that a mulligan wouldn’t be in “the public’s best interest.”
Zaffram later said, “It would be inappropriate to re-bring the petition.”
Both attorneys also discussed the impact a potential annexation would have on each side’s municipal operation. Campbell said that the City of Jamestown needs the annexation approved due to its economic situation.
“The City (of Jamestown) is in dire economic circumstances, (and the City) is financially stressed,” Campbell said. “(Jamestown) is trying to pinch every penny.” Campbell, additionally, said that taxes wouldn’t go up as much in the town, village and school district as expected. Zaffram, however, said that her clients would lose more than $250,000 in tax revenue a year.
Campbell told the court that Ellicott’s potential cutting of services isn’t “sufficient enough to outweigh interests of city and property.”
Jamestown’s attorney also said that the City of Jamestown is better equipped to maintain the substation, which she said is worth $7.9 million.
“The City is in the best position to coordinate with the BPU. It is the City’s property,” Campbell said. “….The city has the best possible police and fire protection to protect the substation.”
“This (the annexation) became a comparison and pinning of volunteers versus paid, town versus city,” Zaffram countered during her argument.
According to the Fourth Department Appellate Division website, decisions on cases heard April 1 through April 11 are scheduled to be released April 26 or May 3. However, it’s possible that a decision won’t be released at that point.
WNYNewsNow will continue to follow the story.