In New Paltz, conflict provides conflict

Holly Hasbrouck is seeking what appears to be a somewhat routine subdivision of land on Huguenot Street in New Paltz, but history has complicated that process in an unusual way. It’s not the fact that there are historic homes farther down Huguenot Street that’s causing a problem; it’s the history of the survey and the surveyor who drew the new lines. The surveyor works for Brinnier & Larios, a firm that provides engineering services for village projects, and that’s a violation of rules governing conflicts of interest.

The issue comes up because an old property line had to be moved slightly to avoid the need to seek a variance for this subdivision. Noting that the last survey had been prepared through Brinnier & Larios in 1964, Hasbrouck requested an update from the current survey team there, one that would show that a variance isn’t needed. It was suggested that since this was an update of a very old survey generated in the same office, it might not be a conflict, but attorney Rick Golden said that the issue is with the relationship the firm has with village government now, not in the past. As it happens, village officials have been obtaining engineering services from Brinnier & Larios since 1958.

Hasbrouck was agitated to discover that this survey work can’t be accepted without jumping through more hoops to ensure that it’s all on the up-and-up. To avoid hiring someone else to start from scratch, Hasbrouck would have to have plans prepared by an engineer willing to certify the survey data. Otherwise, it’s either get a new survey, or apply for a variance using the original one. Standard practice in firms providing professional services to municipalities is to check for conflicts before accepting new clients.