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ELECTION LAW MAY LIMIT VOTERS IN REFERENDUM

A provision in the law could prevent some Lewiston residents from voting in a referendum on whether the town should pay to develop an 18-hole golf course at Joseph A. Davis State Park.

The Town Board is considering the construction of a $4 million golf course in the park off River Road.

The project is dubbed "Grand View Golf Course at Joseph Davis State Park."

Lucille Britt, a Niagara County elections commissioner, said the law requires that any voter in such a referendum be a property owner and resident in the town.

However, Town Attorney Edward P. Jesella Jr. wants to open up voting to every resident.

But Mrs. Britt points to Section 84 of town law for New York State:

"No person shall be entitled to vote upon any proposition for raising, appropriating or expending money or incurring any town liability, or for the sale or other disposition of town land or property, unless he or she is an elector of the town and the owner of property. . . ."

"In plain English I would say that means you have to own property," Mrs. Britt said.

Also, if people own property here but do not live here, they cannot vote, she said. Mrs. Britt also has doubts the referendum can be held on Election Day, Nov. 4, claiming it would be too complicated for election inspectors to screen eligible voters.

Mrs. Britt suggested that Jesella obtain a list of registered voters and a list of those who own property to put together a list of eligible voters.

Jesella said that bonding attorneys involved in the financing of the project disagree with the restriction's on voting.

And he added that no date has been set for the vote, although Nov. 4 is unlikely because of the potential for confusion.

On June 14, the Town Board voted to pay $5,000 to survey a portion of the park in anticipation of the referendum.

The board also voted last August to pay about $40,000 to Environmental Design and Research of Buffalo to study the golf course for the park.

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