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The general act for the incorporation of villages is now
F. S. B.
E. D. H.
PROPERTY TE IN
CITY OF NEW YORK.
REVISERS' PRELIMINARY NOTE TO THE
The Constitution of 1846 required the Legislature "to provide for the organization of cities and incorporated villages." Accordingly a general act for the incorporation of villages was passed in the following year (Laws 1847, chap. 426). The Constitution of 1846, however, did not require villages to be incorporated under general law, and the Legislature continued to pass special charters. The general VillageLaw was revised and re-enacted in 1870 (Laws 1870, chap. 291), and the act of 1847 was repealed except as to villages incorporated under it; but the constitutional provision prohibiting the incorporation of villages by special law was not adopted until November 3, 1874, taking effect January 1, 1875. Since January 1, 1875, all villages have been incorporated pursuant to the general law.
There are thus three classes of organized villages in this State: First, those incorporated under special laws prior to the amendments of the Constitution, and which have not reincorporated under a general; second, those incorporated under and subject to the general village law of 1847; and third, those incorporated under and subject to the general village law of 1870.
During the last quarter of a century there has been a marked municipal development in this State, and we now have 37 cities, containing more than 65 per cent. of the population. But this development has not been confined to cities; villages have grown and multiplied, until we have about 400 of these smaller municipalities, with a population of more than half a million. Many of the questions relating to municipal administration apply with equal significance to incorporated villages. Taxation, police and sanitary regulations, street railroads, the supply of water and light, street improvement, education and economical
administration, are subjects in which villages as well as cities have an abiding interest, differing mainly in degree. Some villages are larger than some cities, and many present conditions demand attention and consideration equal in kind and degree to those required by the smaller cities. The form of government differs, but the ends to be attained are substantially the same, and the same principles of administration must be applied to both classes of municipalities. This situation has been recognized by the Legislature, and efforts have been made to provide for the expansion of village government in many directions not contemplated by the original act of 1870. One result is that village legislation is fragmentary and sometimes incongruous. Many changes have been engrafted on the original law, and many important provisions appear in independent statutes, some of which affect all villages, and some only those incorporated under the general law.
If a village law could be enacted broad enough to include all villages, superseding and repealing all special as well as general laws, it would do much to simplify the problems of village government. We have not, however, attempted to go so far. The Village law which we propose is a revision of all the general village laws of the State. The general acts of 1847 and 1870, and all acts amendatory thereof or supplemental thereto are repealed. In addition to the general laws repealed, the proposed law supersedes and repeals a large number of special laws relating to particular villages incorporated under and subject to a general law. Every village now subject to either the general law of 1847 or 1870 is made subject to its provisions as if incorporated thereunder. A special village is made subject to such of its provisions as do not conflict with its charter. A special village is authorized either to continue under its charter in connection with the proposed general law, or to abandon its charter and adopt the provisions of the new law by reincorporation thereunder. It has been our endeavor throughout to make the provisions of the proposed law so elastic as to permit variations according to local customs and conditions so that by re
incorporation all or nearly all villages of the State will eventually have one uniform system of government. The home rule features of the proposed law, we believe, will encourage this result. We have given to the officers and people of a village subject to its provisions broad power in determining what rights and privileges the village shall exercise and enjoy, so that a village with few wants and necessities, as well as one requiring a more comprehensive and complete form of government, can operate under it. But even if special villages do not reincorporate under its provisions, we think that the new law will tend to obviate the necessity of a large amount of legislation relating to special villages, for the reason that the provisions of the general law, when not in conflict with their special charters, are made applicable to them.
The proposed new law is based upon the general act of 1870, the acts amendatory thereof, and the other general and supplementary legislation relating to villages. In many respects the act of 1870, under which a majority of the villages of the state are now operating, is unsatisfactory and incomplete. This has necessitated many changes of substances in the revision. Conflicting provisions have been reconciled, and obsolete, impracticable, and unconstitutional provisions have been omitted. Many new provisions are proposed to meet varying local conditions. A note is added to each section, which indicates the source of the section, the provisions of the old law for which it is substituted, or that a section is new.
References are made to laws as printed in the ninth edition of the Revised Statutes, which contains the laws as amended to January 1, 1896. No reference is therefore made to amendatory laws, unless the same were passed since that date. The table following the chapter indicates the disposition of each law specifically repealed by the revision.
The following notes indicate the more important changes of substance made by the proposed law, with the reasons therefor.