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Skaneateles Board of Trustees

The village of Skaneateles Board of Trustees meets Thursday night. A village resident was directed not to contact the board or step on the village hall property, but the resident and officials dispute the reason why.

SKANEATELES — A Skaneateles man banned from contacting the village's board of trustees or being on village hall property says the measure is the result of his criticism of the mayor, but officials said the action is the result of threats and antagonism.

Village resident Zack Ford, who plans to run for mayor in the 2021 election, was told this week not to contact the board or use the hall property, and that doing so could result in arrest, according to an email from village Police Chief Daniel Coon and provided to The Citizen.

According to the email, Mayor Marty Hubbard directed that Ford was no longer afforded those privileges because of his "disrespect and idle threats to our Village Board and general antagonistic attitude."

It is unclear if the ban would be enforceable should Ford violate it.

According to Kristin O'Neill with the state's Committee on Open Government, there is no provision in the state laws governing mayors allowing for one to prohibit a resident from contacting or visiting village property.

In an email to The Citizen, O'Neill said it was her opinion that an individual could not be blocked from public meetings absent a valid "stay away order" from a judge with relevant jurisdiction.

Ford, who waited outside the village's monthly meeting Thursday, said instead that the ban was prompted by his criticism of Hubbard's refusal to consider a petition asking for a ban of pesticides and herbicides in the village and town, in order to protect Skaneateles Lake as a source of drinking water.

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That petition, listed on Change.org, had slightly more than 1,650 signatures late Thursday night, with several hundred coming from village residents, according to Ford.

"It is a bold faced lie that I have threatened anyone," Ford said. "We are in a water crisis and elected officials must be held accountable."

Several supporters for Ford attended the meeting with signs expressing their support, though they sat quietly during the meeting after Hubbard noted that it was a public meeting but would not have a public comment portion.

Additionally, Ford said he collected signatures for another petition in 2017 calling for Hubbard's resignation over a notice of violation from the state Department of Environmental Conservation over unpermitted streambank disturbance on Hubbard's property.

While Ford Thursday described the disturbance as having polluted the lake, the DEC at the time said the violation notice was specifically for habitat disturbance and not a water quality violation.

Hubbard declined to comment to The Citizen during a break between the board's regular meeting an an executive session, saying he would prefer to respond to questions over email. An email seeking comment did not receive a response by press time.

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Staff writer Ryan Franklin can be reached at (315) 282-2252 or ryan.franklin@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @RyanNYFranklin.

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