Second home owners prevail on election law challenge

In a recent New York appeals court decision, eight second home owners in the Town of Bovina (Delaware County) secured a victory in the courts and, at least indirectly, against wind farm development.

The controversy in Bovina is symptomatic of the tension that can arise between long-time residents of rural areas that have fallen on economic hard times who seek alternative revenue streams, and the owners of property enjoyed in large measure for its bucolic appeal and not for its ability to generate income. The controversy is less NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) than it is IMBY (“IN my backyard”) v. NIYBY (“not in YOUR backyard”).

The case arose when Bovina in early 2007 enacted a ban of commercial wind farm development, a position supported by the “second homers.” A challenge to the voting rights of second home owners ensued. After an investigation, the County Board of Elections removed the second homers from the voting rolls because of their status as second home owners.

The second homers filed suit, seeking reinstatement. They won.  That decision (in Case No. 20070804), by Otsego County Supreme Court Judge Kevin Dowd in October 2007, would appear to be available online here. The judge ordered the second homers to be placed back on the rolls in Bovina. The losers appealed that decision and lost again in this recent decision. (This blogger does not know whether they will continue to appeal to New York’s highest court.)

The case is Willkie et al. v. Delaware County Board of Elections (No. 504004) (NYS Sup. Crt App. 3d, Oct. 23, 2008). The petition of the second homers in the lower court case appears to be available here.

And if you happen to be an election law junkie, you might wish to visit Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog.

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