What Is a Village?

In New York State, a village is a small community or group of houses and businesses incorporated into a municipality. That last bit is important. “Incorporated into a municipality.” A village is a local government that serves a very specific geographical location. This local government administers the infrastructure that provides the agreed-upon basic services.

In Sodus, those basic services consist of:

  • providing potable water to residents’ homes
  • removing waste water from residents’ homes
  • maintaining vital infrastructure, such as streets, sidewalks, and street lighting
  • providing for public safety

In addition, the Village of Sodus offers a few extra benefits to our citizens, such as leaf and brush removal, free compost, and others.

What a Village Isn’t

Often we hear things like, “They should do this (or that).” Or, “Why don’t they take care of that old building?” Or, “They’re keeping this business (or that business) out.” Or, “Why aren’t they bringing in more businesses?”

Statements like this usually come from a misunderstanding of what a village is (and isn’t).

Local governments, such as towns and villages are in the business of providing services, and their powers are very closely proscribed by the State of New York. The Village does not own much property — most property belongs to private citizens and corporations. We cannot make improvements or modifications to private property except under very specific circumstances. We have Zoning Codes that must be followed and we can act in cases where public safety is threatened, but, in general, we have little authority to take action, even if public sentiment favors it.

And this is a good thing. Consider if the property in question was yours. Would you still want the Village to interfere?

The Village has the power to make our community as attractive to new businesses as possible, by enforcing ordinances, keeping the streets repaired, and making policies that are business-friendly, but the rest is up to private citizens. We cannot bring a business into the Village against its will.

And as for excluding businesses, there is no legal way to favor one business over another. Our Zoning Codes make it clear what types of businesses are allowed and what types are restricted, but that is all. Those decisions are made with the public good in mind and are administered fairly for everyone. No one person in the Village has the influence or authority to deny access to a competitor. And that’s the way it should be. It’s in everyone’s best interests to have new businesses come to town.