by John Patrick Schutz
Nyack’s Village Code is 59 chapters and sub-chapters of ordinances, building codes and zoning regulations filled with the rules and regulations governing our community. It’s a fascinating read which gives us insights to the history of our village.
For instance, did you realize Nyack has a curfew after 10 PM for those under the age of 17? Owning a rooster is illegal? Are you aware that property owners who have not cleared the sidewalks abutting their property of snow by 11 AM (or salted, if the storm is continuing) are liable for a substantial fine? How about the restriction of ALL pets from attending the street fairs – not just dogs as many seem to think, but kitties, birdies and SNAKES too (Remember the guy with the python wrapped around his neck at all the street fairs? Obviously, he freaked out one too many people!)
I was hoping to find some really wacko laws still hanging around the books (I mean come on, Nyack has been around since the 1600s!) but alas, no. Our faithful mayors and boards of trustees have diligently removed most of the silly ordinances over time. However, there is subtle humor to be found ‘€“ it seems our 59 chapters of Village Code are laid out ALPHABETICALLY which does create some really wonderfully juxtapositions of concepts. Therefore we find ‘€œPublic Performances’€ followed immediately by ‘€œRefuse Disposal’€; ‘€œNoise’€ prophetically proceeding ‘€œNotice Prior to Civil Action’€; ‘€œAssessments’€ leading to ‘€œBankrupt Goods License’€ and ‘€œStreets and Sidewalks’€ linked to ‘€œSolicitation’€ caused me to wonder if there’s a side to Nyack I am missing. The combination that left me stuck between laughter and outrage was my discovery that ‘€œDomestic Partnerships’€ are wedged between ‘€œDisorderly Conduct’€ and ‘€œAnimals’€. (Leading me to think Chapter 17 was once simply ‘€œDogs’€, which does not really improve the consequences of this unintended bit of humor!)
Reading through any Municipality’s Code is like taking a walk through history. The earliest resolutions (Drinking in Public, Animals, Property Maintenance) go back to 1935.
If you know any Nyack history, you might guess when certain chapters were added. Curfew laws were strengthened during the period of youth unrest in 1968, hawking and peddling regulations when door-to-door salesmen filled the streets in the 1950s. When I was a kid in the 1970s, downtown began to be littered with abandoned shopping carts ‘€“ everywhere, so Chapter 2 was adopted in 1973. Filming Permits began in earnest in the 1980s when everyone seemed to want to use Nyack as a setting for their film or TV show, and the regs were strengthened back in the early 2000s when ‘€œEd’€ was filming and taking our village just a bit too much for granted.
So why not take a look at Nyack’s Village Code and see what laws YOU don’t know about. My fellow realtors might want to direct their buyers this way so that they are aware that, yep, the sidewalks and their complete maintenance , repair and replacement are their responsibility! Now, if SOMEBODY would just enforce that regulation about keeping your privet hedges from blocking the sidewalks!
John Patrick Schutz is a realtor for Rand Realty in Nyack, NY. You can read his blog posts at AtHomeInNyack.