Hempstead Town Board members on Tuesday postponed a decision on amending the town’s free air law, which is being challenged in court.
Service station owners and air machine providers oppose the town’s 2016 law requiring operators to provide free air for motorists at all times.
The law was scheduled to be amended during Tuesday’s board meeting to drop a 24-hour requirement and change it to provide air when the stations are open.
A Nassau County Supreme Court judge issued an injunction on the town’s law in January, ruling the town violated the state open meetings act when it passed the law last year and included the 24-hour requirement.
Erica Dubno, an attorney representing Long Island service stations and air machine provider Bill McCabe as well as his son, Bill McCabe Jr., said at the meeting that the law in its entirety is unconstitutional.
She said billing records show the town paid $30,300 to private outside counsel to defend the law over 53 days last year.
“The town is laying people off and facing serious budget issues, but is still paying for outside counsel,” she said. “Constitutional issues remain — the law still bans and criminalizes possession of coin-operated machines.”
Dubno argued that the town’s law could jail service station owners for up to 15 days if an air machine isn’t functional and charge up to $10,000 per week in fines.”
Service station owners argued that changing air machines to provide free air could cost small businesses thousands of dollars in addition to the expense of maintaining the machines, which are often damaged, stolen or vandalized.
“Any equipment needs to be maintained,” Bill McCabe Sr. said. “You get what you pay for.”