Hello Fellow East Hampton residents.
Welcome to April and Spring in East Hampton. Tomorrow is our first Town Board work session in April. We will be meeting at the East Hampton Town Hall at 159 Pantigo Road, East Hampton beginning at 10:00.
As usual, the meeting will begin with comments from the public on whatever issues are of concern to constituents and then will move into the Agenda items noted below. The meetings can be viewed live on Channel 22, LTV.
Coastal Erosion Recommendations for downtown Montauk:
The 10 member Coastal Erosion committee made several recommendations for coastal erosion management in downtown Montauk, which recommendations were unanimously accepted by the Town Board at the last work session. In that regard, we have asked our Town Attorney to come up with code revisions and other action items for us to take, to ensure that the recommendations do not languish leading to good ideas that never take root. The suggestions include a recommendation to amend the emergency section of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (“LWRP”) to allow for temporary emergency measures currently not permitted under our code. The Town Board will review and discuss these suggestions.
The Viking Fleet is looking to dock at Gann Road in East Hampton to provide the possibility of running a fishing boat out of East Hampton. The Town Board is being asked to look at the viability of this request, which involves having a retail use, and raises questions of parking, and septic, all while bringing a bit of Montauk into Springs.
There is a site plan application before the Planning Board for a brewery business in downtown Montauk. In order to accommodate the use, the Town Code mandates the business provide three parking spaces, which they cannot do inasmuch as there is no property available for their parking. (There is however parking available as the Town owns a parking lot across the street.) The code provides that if one cannot provide the parking spot, they can pay a sum of money to the Town in lieu of providing the spot. The Town Board is being asked to weigh in on the issue of what to do about the parking requirement. Some on the Board want to amortize the $45,000.00 payment needed to "buy out" of the parking requirement, and some want to waive the fee. The argument for amortizing the cost over several years is that others had to pay so it is not fair to forgive the debt. The argument for waiving the fee is that the town has had this parking fund for over 20 years, has accumulated about $80,000 in that time and has never spent a dime. The reason the Town has never spent the money is it cannot be used for anything other than actually buying parking spots in the hamlet in which the money was donated.
The Town approved changes to the taxi legislation, but still needs to decide on who issues the actual taxi licenses, and who hears the complaints, and what complaints to levy.
Airport Helicopter Routing:
Apparently, there have been meetings with Southampton Town elected officials, State and Federal representatives on the issue of helicopter routes. A report will be made on those discussions.
Deer Management Survey:
Late last year, the Town Board approved the expenditure of approximately $50,000.00 to get an aerial count of the deer in East Hampton. While an over-population of deer may seem a logical conclusion to some, there are questions as to whether the proliferation of deer fences has caused the deer to migrate into the roads and into areas not historically frequented by deer. The audit of the deer population has been completed and the results should be ready for publication. The Town Board will discuss the results and what the next moves should be based on those results.
Committee on Pre-Existing Non-Conforming Businesses:
The Town has hundreds of businesses which were built legally but then the zone was changed to one which renders the business no longer conforming to the Town Code. . According to the Planning Department’s data compiled in 2011, almost 20% of the businesses acres used in Town are pre-existing, non-conforming. The business owners have repeatedly approached the Board to advise that the code provisions make it impossible for them to run their businesses. They advise that they need to make changes to comply with ADA requirements or Suffolk County Department of Health requirements. Yet, neighbors whose uses conform to the new zoning have an expectation that the business will not expand. The Town Board needs to look at this group of properties which make up a large percentage of our businesses and assess whether the code does hinder business in our Town and if so, whether it should be changed.
Septic Tank Upgrades:
The Town has been limping along with a scavenger waste facility (the plant which takes in and sanitizes the septic waste from private homes and businesses), the future for which is unclear. It was being run inefficiently and at a deficit. The prior Town Board had voted unanimously to sell or lease the facility and have the town get out of the business. Part of the lack of clarity came from some on the Town Board who want to see that the Town focuses on the individual septic tanks and whether they need upgrading. In this regard, the Town is contemplating spending hundreds of thousands on doing a study of what we should do to ensure our septic systems are not failing. In this regard, it is appropriate to focus on what it would take to upgrade septic systems in our fragile areas, such as Harbor Protection Overlay Districts, Water Recharge Overlay Districts, and Suffolk County Groundwater Protection Areas. If we focus on that, perhaps we can use the money for the study to help upgrade whatever needs betterment.
Thank you for your commitment to our Town,
Theresa K. Quigley