Local Laws: Animal Protection, ATVs, Underage Drinking

By Patrick Cummings, Counsel, New York State Association of Counties
Home Rule power is, in many ways, what makes a county special. As local government leaders, active in your community, it is you that understand your local residents needs best. And it is County Home Rule power that grants county leaders the authority to pass and enforce local laws that can address and be tailored to the personal needs of an individual county. In each NYSAC News issue we include new local laws that have been passed by your fellow counties. Understanding what other counties are doing to address their local issues or needs can perhaps spark an idea for you to use in some variation in your county as well.

Schuyler County Legislature Enacts Local Law to Increase Animal Protection
On February 9, 2016 the Schuyler County Legislature enacted a local law authorizing the Schuyler County Animal Control Officer to issue criminal court appearance tickets when appropriate. Appearance tickets under the local law are defined as a written notice issued and subscribed by a police officer or other public servant authorized by state or local law, which direct a designated person to appear at a local criminal court at a designated time in connection to his/her alleged commission of offense. The actions of offense are for violation of local laws regarding “licensing, cruelty, dogs and other animal-related offenses.”

Additionally, the local law authorizes the Sheriff of Schuyler County to appoint designated Animal Control Officers to further this cause. 

Schuyler County Passes Local Law to Assess and Collect Electronic Monitoring Fees 
On March 15, 2016 the Schuyler County Legislature adopted a local law allowing for fees to be assessed in relation to the administration of electronic monitoring services. The intent of this law is to lower the growing costs to the county when providing this important County Probation Department service. Electronic monitoring can be applied to individuals sentenced to a term of probation as defined under New York State Penal Law. Electronic monitoring can also be required by State Court-ordered "conditional discharge" in which the county probation department is informed of the individual's location and/or requires drug testing as available through the electronic monitoring technology.

This local law now allows for “every person who is subject to supervision by the Schuyler County Probation Department…shall be assessed a daily fee for such monitoring services that are provided and paid for by the Probation Department, not to exceed $10.00 per day.”

Additionally, the local law provides a waiver of the fee for individuals that are found to be indigent or if the fee would cause an “unreasonable hardship on the person.”

St. Lawrence County Expands Areas to Which ATV Use is Permitted
On December 7, St. Lawrence County passed a local law further defining where all-terrain vehicles (ATV's) can be used. This local law expanded on their previously passed County Land ATV Use Law. 

County Land ATV Use local law authorizes certain public lands for travel by all-terrain vehicles and imposed certain regulations for safe operation of ATVs on such public property. This Board has previously found that “the use of all-terrain vehicles in St. Lawrence County has grown in recent years and St. Lawrence County has the highest number of registered ATVs in the State of New York… and that promoting opportunities for recreational use of all-terrain vehicles will stimulate the local economy and offer enjoyment for the citizens of the County and for tourists traveling in the area.”

St. Lawrence County has created and maintains a system of trails suitable for use by ATVs on public land and designated connecting highways. This local law makes clear to its residents exactly where it is permissible to enjoy use of ATVs on public land.

Some restrictions for safety reasons include: hours of operation, the requirement that the ATV is in compliance with all the applicable provisions of the State Vehicle and Traffic Law; not using trails designated for skiing, hiking and biking purposes only; and that ATVs shall at all times be operated on the designated trails in a reasonable manner at reasonable speeds so as not to pose a danger to either the operator or any other user of the designated trails.

Orange County Enacts Legislation to Curtail of Alcohol by Minors
On February 4th the Orange County Legislature passed the “Social Host Law” in relation to preventing the consumption of alcohol by minors. The Legislature found that underage drinking “poses an immediate threat to the public health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Orange County, often leading to alcohol abuse by minors, physical altercations, accidental injuries, neighborhood vandalism, excessive noise requiring the intervention of local law enforcement, and the commission of violent crimes including sexual offenses and serious assaults.”

In order to deter the consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors, this local law enacts penalties to those eighteen (18) years of age or older when found they knowingly permitted consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors on their premises. If found in violation of this local law an individual will be fined of five hundred dollars ($500.00), and be required to complete an alcohol awareness program and/or an appropriate amount of community service not to exceed thirty hours; a second offense will be punishable by either a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), and/or a term of not to exceed one year.

This local law states the following uses are exemptionsto the law: i) the consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages by a minor whose parent or guardian is present and has expressly permitted such consumption; or ii) the use and consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages by a minor for religious purposes.