North Elba Town Council hires new town attorney

LAKE PLACID — The North Elba Town Council has hired Glens Falls-based law firm Miller, Mannix, Schachner and Hafner, LLC to represent the town, replacing the town’s former Lake Placid-based attorney Ron Briggs.

Mark Schachner is the firm’s principal municipal attorney, and town Supervisor Derek Doty said he sees Schachner as the firm’s “big dog” and main correspondent with the town. Schachner attended his first town council meeting on Jan. 4.

Doty said he mainly chose to switch attorneys because he believed the town’s workload for Briggs was “extraordinary.” Doty said he has some “pet projects” he wants to get off the ground, like reevaluating the town’s contract with the state Olympic Regional Development Authority and upgrading water systems serving two prisons in Ray Brook, Adirondack Correctional Facility and FCI Ray Brook. He added that he thought Briggs was too busy to keep the pace he wants to set for those projects.

Briggs also works in real estate law, and Doty said he thinks the pandemic-driven real estate boom in the area is keeping Briggs occupied. Briggs deferred comment about the change to Doty on Thursday.

The town will pay Schachner’s firm at an hourly rate of $220. Briggs received a salary of $47,000. Doty said the annual cost for Schachner’s firm will depend on how much of Schachner’s time the council needs.

Doty said there’s a chance Briggs could fill in for Schachner in town court and with other “regular housekeeping” occurrences every now and then to save Schachner from traveling to town. He said there’s a “mutual respect between the old and the new” in that regard.

Schachner earned a Juris Doctor degree from Boston University Law School in 1982 and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University in 1978. He’s a municipal and environmental attorney for Miller, Mannix, Schachner and Hafner, according to the firm’s website.

Schachner has represented local municipalities and boards in the past, including the village of Saranac Lake and the Lake Placid-North Elba Review Board, when local attorneys had to recuse themselves. Doty said he’s never worked with Schachner personally, but he chose the attorney because he believes he could offer “unbiased” counsel as someone with a practice located outside of the town and village. Schachner has represented various towns in Warren, Washington, Saratoga and Essex counties. Doty said Schachner came highly recommended by local attorneys and that the town council supported the change.

Schachner told the town council on Jan. 4 that he and his colleagues are “very enthused about helping the town of North Elba.” Schachner was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.


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