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Babylon plans public hearing to consider changes to town code on ward districts

Officials in Democrat-controlled Babylon Town are proposing adding

Officials in Democrat-controlled Babylon Town are proposing adding five sections to the code on ward districts. A hearing is scheduled for June 28. Credit: Steve Pfost

Officials in the Town of Babylon will hold a public hearing Thursday on proposed additions to the code on ward districts within the town.

The Democrat-controlled town is proposing adding five sections to the code regarding the procedure by which a petition may be submitted for a public referendum to change how town board members are elected, from at-large to specific districts.

In September 2016, town Republicans sought to put a ward district referendum on the November ballot, but then-Town Clerk Carol Quirk rejected the petition as “legally insufficient” because she said its wording did not meet town and state election law requirements.

Babylon Town officials typically reserve public hearings for scheduled town board meetings, the next of which is July 11.

Supervisor Rich Schaffer said the push now to adopt the additions to the code’s section on ward districts, which was created in September 2016, is because “we are in the middle of petition collection season” and if someone wants to file “we want to make sure they know what the rules are.”

Schaffer, who is opposed to districts, said the most significant of these requirements is that all signatures must be dated and the date cannot be more than 180 days prior to the filing of the petition with the town. Schaffer said the town modeled this language on Brookhaven Town’s code, which limits the time period to 90 days.

“We believed that we had to have that language in there, but we also believed that it could be a little bit longer to give people an opportunity,” he said.

Babylon Town Republican chair Tony Pancella said Republicans are again seeking a referendum and have already obtained more than 1,900 signatures. The new 180-day requirement may invalidate at least some of that effort,  Pancella said, but they will push on.

“We will get them signed again,” he said. “We are going to get this on the ballot in November.”

The public hearing is at 3:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 200 E. Sunrise Hwy. in Lindenhurst.

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