Town of Colonie - Office of the Town Attorney

Michael C. Maggiulli
Town Attorney

Memorial Town Hall
534 Loudon Road
Newtonville, NY 12128

Introduction Recent Litigation
Areas of Legal Service Local Laws
Areas of Public Services Public Hearings
How To Contact Us Forms
Consumer Protection Related Web Links
Legal Notices/BIDS Town Board Minutes

 
Introduction

The Town Attorney's Office provides for the legal services of the municipal corporation known as the "Town of Colonie" and its special districts, including the Latham Water District and the Colonie Sewer Improvement Area. This includes the 7 town board members, 25 departments, 500 ± full time employees and 250 + part time employees and volunteers. Our duties are those commonly associated with the law department of a large corporation and include provision of all aspects of legal counsel to such corporation. Although we interact with residents and business entities regarding municipal issues on a daily basis, and provide countless written and oral responses to their inquiries, we cannot act as their attorneys for private matters. Thus, for private issues and conflicts, one must retain a private attorney. The outline below provides general information about some of the areas within which we work.

Areas of Legal Services
  • Litigation - Initiate, coordinate and defend actions and proceedings for the Town in all levels of court - State, Federal and Town.
  • Drafting, review and administration - Negotiate, prepare and review all legal documents for the Town of Colonie such as town board resolutions, contracts, agreements, deeds and leases.
  • Legal Counsel - Provide legal assistance and guidance to the Supervisor, the Town Board, and all other Town Departments, Boards, Committees, Officials, employees and volunteers.
  • Insurance Administration - Coordinate and develop the Town's risk management and insurance programs and coverages. Also review of claims against the Town.
  • Legislation - Assist with the development and drafting of proposed legislation, rules, regulations and policies for both Town programs and operations, and also review legislation, rules and regulations of other governmental agencies which may impact the Town. Review legislative proposals submitted by outside agencies, individuals and special interest groups.
  • Tax Certioraris - Assist in the review of 40 - 50 yearly tax challenges against the Town Assessor, and coordinate the defense of these property tax challenges.
  • Real Property - Assists in reviewing subdivision maps and easements forwarded by the Town's Planning and Economic Development Department. Also draft real property instruments, including deeds, leases and easements for Town transactions. We also conduct real property closings as necessary for the Town and Community Development's program for first time home-buyers.
  • Legal Research - Conduct legal research on behalf of the Town Supervisor, Town Board, Department Heads and employees.
  • Vehicle & Traffic / Local Law Prosecution - Prosecute Vehicle and Traffic Law violations on behalf of the Town of Colonie Police Department and Local Law violations on behalf of various Town departments.
Areas of Public Services
  • Freedom of Information Act ("FOIL") - The Attorney's Office spends a considerable amount of time processing the public's requests for official Town documents under New York's Freedom of Information Law. FOIL requests must be made in writing and although not required, a FOIL request may be submitted on a Town FOIL Request Form. Requests may also be submitted electronically to infofoil@colonie.org. For more information about the process, go to Frequently Asked Questions, below.
  • Notary Services -The Town Attorney's Office, along with the Assessor, Tax Receiver, Town Clerk, Employee Relations and Comptroller's offices have Notary Public's available. If a document is being sent to another state or country and requires a notary "seal" rather than just a notary stamp, please come to our office as we have individuals who can provide this service.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I contact the Town Attorney's Office if I have a problem?

Our office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. If you wish to call us, our phone number is 783-2704, or if you wish to stop in person, our office is located across from Siena College in Memorial Town Hall, Newtonville, on the Second Floor. Since our staff each specializes in certain areas, when calling or visiting in person, it is best to describe the nature of your problem so that your inquiry may be properly directed. The phone number for the Consumer Protection Office is (518) 783-2790; the phone number for Vehicle & Traffic inquiries is 783-2714.

2. Can the Town Attorney's Office represent Colonie Residents?

Unfortunately, the role of the Town Attorney's Office does not include providing legal advice to Town residents. Our role is similar to that of a corporate lawyer and therefore is limited to providing counsel to the Town Supervisor, Town Board members, the 25 Town departments and agencies, employees, and volunteers in their official capacities.

3. Freedom of Information Law Requests.

The Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) allows public access to government records. To obtain copies of public records, simply submit a written request to the department whose records you seek. The Town has a form available for your convenience on this web site or at the Town offices, although it is not necessary to use this form when submitting a request; it is only necessary that your request be in writing. Requests may also be submitted electronically to infofoil@colonie.org. Once received, the law requires the Town to respond within 5 business days. If the records are not readily available, you will instead receive an acknowledgement of your request and an estimated date when the records will be available. You may either look at the records, or request photocopies, in which case the fee is 25¢ per copy. While FOIL generally allows access to records, not all records will be released. The Freedom of Information Law and other laws protect certain types of information from being released to the public. For example, dates of birth and social security numbers will always be taken out of the records. If a request has been denied, in whole or in part, you may appeal the decision in writing within 30 days to the Town Attorney at Memorial Town Hall, P.O. Box 508, Newtonville, NY 12128. There is no cost for an appeal.

4. Vehicle & Traffic Questions

a) When is Traffic Court? Except for major holidays, Traffic Court is usually held every Monday evening at 7 PM at the Public Safety Building, 312 Wolf Road. Trials are usually held on Tuesday mornings at the same location at 8:30 AM.

b) If I plead guilty and send in my ticket, do I have to go to Court? No, the Justice Court will send you a letter indicating whether the Judge has accepted your plea, and, if so, indicate the amount of the fine.

c) Does the Town Attorney's Office prosecute DWI's, other misdemeanors or felonies? No, the prosecutor for these offenses is the Albany County District Attorney. Their phone number is 487-5460.

d) Can I discuss my ticket with someone? Yes, the Town Attorney's Office always has a prosecutor available on court night and trial dates. You may discuss your ticket with him or her. Usually, there is a sign-up sheet if you would like to meet with them.

5. Does the Town of Colonie accept service of legal documents by facsimile?

No.

6. My car struck a pothole and was damaged, will the Town pay?

Generally, all damage claims must be submitted to this office in writing. We will investigate whether the Town owns the road on which the pothole was located and whether we had prior notice of the pothole. If we determine that the Town is responsible, we will generally request three repair estimates be submitted.

7. Paper Streets

a) What is a Paper Street? The Town of Colonie has many old subdivisions which were created and never built, or only partially constructed. These subdivisions have streets which are depicted on the paper subdivision maps, but were never built. Hence, the term paper street.

b) Can I build a house or structure on a paper street? No, unless the paper street is abandoned and the easement on it extinguished. The process to do that is usually not practicable in the great majority of cases.

c) Who owns the paper streets in the Town? Experience has shown us that the land upon the paper street is located is usually in the name of the original developer. The Town Clerk's Office has some records in this regard, but a competent title company is usually required to precisely determine ownership.

d) Is a paper street considered to be a "street" for zoning purposes? Yes, even though a paper street does not exist on the ground, it could conceivably be developed at any time. Thus, if your lot has a paper street abutting it, the area between your house and the paper street will be considered as a "front yard" for zoning purposes.

8. What can I do about my neighbor's tree branches which extend onto my property?

Although this is a common question, we, unfortunately, cannot provide legal advice to Town residents. Rather, we refer residents to the Albany County Bar Association or to the Town Library, which have various legal resources which can be researched to answer a particular issue, such as this one.

9. Does the Town of Colonie have a noise ordinance?

Yes, the Town adopted a local law pertaining to noise in 2003. A copy of the local law can be accessed through the home page of this web site. It is in Chapter 135 of the Town Code.

Frequently Asked Consumer Protection Questions

1. If I buy something in the store and decide later that I don't really want it, can I take it back?

Under New York State Law, a store must conspicuously post its refund policy on a sign attached to the item itself, or on a sign affixed to each cash register or point of sale, or on a sign which is clearly visible from the cash register, or on a sign posted at each store entrance used by the public.

If a store does not have its refund policy posted in one of the above places, you are entitled to a cash refund or a credit, up to twenty (20) days from the date of purchase, provided that the item has not been used or damaged.

2. How do I reduce the amount of "junk mail" I receive?

To reduce the amount of "junk mail" you receive, you may write to the following:

Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735

Include in your letter, your mailing address as well as any variation of your name.

Additionally, you may request that your bank, credit card company, and magazines to which you subscribe not to share your name with any advertisers.

3. What should I know before taking my vehicle in for repairs?

New York State Law provides that upon your request, a motor vehicle repair shop must make a written estimate of the parts and labor necessary for a specific job and cannot charge for work done or parts in excess of the estimate without your consent. The repair shop may charge a reasonable fee for the estimate.

No work may be done without your authorization. All work done by a motor vehicle repair shop must be written on an invoice, a copy of which must be given to you.

A motor vehicle repair shop must return all replaced parts, components or equipment, except for those which are normally sold on an exchange basis or subject to a warranty, provided you make a written request or if you have authorized a repair by telephone.

Any violation of the above provisions may be reported to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles by calling (518) 474-8943.

Examples of Recent Litigation

o Deborah Flynn, et al v. Town of Colonie Zoning Board of Appeals

o Sheer Pleasure Lingerie, Inc. v. Town of Colonie Planning Board

o John P. Swedick, et al. v. Town of Colonie, et al.

Local Laws

Town of Colonie Forms

o Freedom of Information Law Request Form

o Facility Use Request Form

Web Links of Legal Interest

o New York State Homepage [www.state.ny.us]

o New York State Attorney General's Office [www.oag.state.ny.us]

o New York State Comptroller's Office [www.osc.state.ny.us]

o Library of Congress [www.loc.gov]

o FedLaw Homepage [www.thecre.com/fedlaw/default.htm]

oAlbany Law School [www.albanylaw.edu]

o Better Business Bureau [www.bbb.org]

o Federal Trade Commission [www.ftc.gov]

Note: Examples of Litigation and Town of Colonie Forms are in Adobe Acrobat format. You can click on the above logo to download the program at no charge.


How To Contact The Town Attorney's Office

Mailing Address:
Office of the Town Attorney
Memorial Town Hall
Newtonville, New York 12128-0508
Phone Number: (518) 783-2704
E-Mail infoattorney@colonie.org
Fax Number: (518) 786-7324
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URL:http://www.colonie.org/attorney