No. Residents have suggested the Town of New Castle’s proposed local law to adopt the Chappaqua Hamlet Form-Based Code be subject to a referendum of the voters. As confirmed by the Town Attorney, the local law adopting the Chappaqua Hamlet Form-Based Code cannot be adopted subject to a referendum. The general rule in New York State is that there can be no referendum in the absence of constitutional or statutory authority. In this case, there is no statutory authority that would allow the Town Board to call a referendum regarding the proposed local law, nor is there any provision in the law (Municipal Home Rule Law §§ 23 and 24) that would allow a group of voters to petition that the issue be put up for a vote.
In response to certain comments received during the Town Board’s public hearing, New York State Municipal Home Rule Law § 24(2)(a) does not authorize a permissive referendum on the FBC. That provision states that “a local law shall be subject to a referendum on petition if it…[d]ispenses with a provision of law requiring public notice or hearing as a condition precedent to official action.” Here, the FBC does not dispense with existing requirements in the Town Code for public hearings associated with site plan or special permit applications under Sections 60-440(C) and 60-430(B) of the Town Code, respectively. Those requirements will remain, but most applications processed under the FBC will not be subject to site plan or special permit review under Sections 60-440(C) and 60-430(B). A separate review procedure is proposed to be established for development applications in the hamlet which allows for public comment, but does not require a public hearing. For further detail, please find the Town Attorney’s memorandum here.