The debate over a proposed ban on delivery of fuel by truck to vessels located at town facilities continues to divide town officials, marina owners and fuel truck drivers in East Hampton.
The town board continued the debate at its work session last week, but has yet to set a public hearing on the matter.
The issue revolves around a proposed local law that would amend the town code to prohibit the delivery of fuel by truck to vessels located at any town marina or dock, and for the imposition of penalties for violations.
The board discussed the possibility of imposing the ban in Montauk, where there are at least eight or nine private marinas for fueling, but allowing deliveries by truck on Gann Road in Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton, where options are limited should a vessel owner need fuel.
Town Attorney John Jilnicki said the town can recognize different locations with different regulations.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson brought up an incident last year in which a private yacht pulled up at a town-owned facility near a commercial vehicle.
“Unless it’s an emergency, no private boats should be allowed to tie up,” Councilman Pete Hammerle said, though Jilnicki said that happens often.
Hammerle said the town faces liability issues in allowing trucks to deliver fuel to vessels at town-owned properties.
The problem, said Wilkinson, is there are no commercial docks in Three Mile Harbor.
One idea is to ban diesel fuel on town docks in Montauk but allow commercial operators to accept fuel from a truck on Gann Road in East Hampton.
Many residents side with the truck owners, who would lose their ability to earn an income. Amagansett Resident and Democratic Candidate for Town Trustee Rona Klopman, for example, suggested licensing rather than banning.
Klopman said she feels ban would mean "money for marina owners because it will eliminate competition and eliminate the small businessmen. I think it's terrible."
And though the supervisor has said insurance companies have recommended the town ban, Klopman doesn't buy it,
“I’d like to see that in writing,” she told the supervisor during the meeting.
Klopman said she called New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal, who told her as long as a fuel company that delivers with trucks have a certificate of insurance, there was no problem.
Andrew Jurkiewicz, owner of , said banning fuel at town docks in Montauk but not East Hampton means "it's obvious you're favoring the Montauk marinas."
Rich Janis of in Montauk supports the ban. “If there’s a fuel spill and the truck is done fueling, he drives away. If there’s oil in the water and the Coast Guard or the DEC comes in, and there’s no one there and it’s on town property, and they decide to fine someone, they will fine the town. And the taxpayer is paying the bill.”
Janis said he has already had to upgrade his operation at great expense to comply with regulations; a truck owner does not have such costs.
Other concerns, he said, involve safety issues and regulations of the New York State fire code, which state fueling can only take place on public property where there is no or limited public access.