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Feb 14, 2017 7:03 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Considers Annual Renewals For Beach Permits For First Time

Feb 16, 2017 12:07 PM

East Hampton Town officials are weighing whether the town should require owners of four-wheel-drive vehicles to get new permits for driving on the ocean beaches each year, as a means of getting a handle on how many vehicles may actually be using local beaches in a given year.

The proposal, which will be the subject of a public hearing next month, does not call for any new fees to be attached to the beach driving stickers, only that they be renewed each year.

Nonetheless, some members of the East Hampton Town Trustees have questioned the move and whether it is necessary or advisable.

"I would like to get some information from our enforcement officers, how many violations are they encountering out there?" Trustee Diane McNally asked other Trustees on Monday night. "Why is this coming up now?"

For decades the town has allowed town residents to get a free sticker for the bumper of their 4x4 that gives them the right to ride the beaches for as long as they own the vehicle. In 2000 the town changed the color of the stickers from blue to red, though the old stickers were not invalidated and there was no requirement that a vehicle owner get a new one.

During last year's trial of a lawsuit brought against the town by homeowners in Amagansett over the use of the popular "Truck Beach" area of Napeague by 4x4s, one of the claims that the property owners made in support of their argument that vehicle use had reached unreasonable levels was that there are more than 30,000 vehicles with 4x4 permits in the town. Officials brushed off the statistic in court by noting that certainly most of those vehicles were no longer in existence or the stickers long ago faded away.

Most of the Trustees, seemingly, understood the Town Board's reasoning for making the permits annual.

"They want to understand how many are actually in play here," said Trustee James Grimes, who also noted that when a vehicle with a town sticker is sold, someone who is not a town resident could be getting free access to town beaches.

Ms. McNally worried, however, that re-issuing the stickers to everyone entitled to one each year might give new weight to the opponents of beach driving by putting a fine point on the actual number.

"If we start from square one, what is going to be the magical number when the anti-vehicle people say you've issued too many?" she asked, also hinting that the annual re-issuing would eventually lead to fees to help cover the costs of renewals and new stickers each year.

Trustee Tyler Armstrong noted that residents get new dump stickers each year, with very high fees attached, and that getting the beach sticker should be of little inconvenience.

The board relented to Ms. McNally's doubts, agreeing to inquire with the town Marine Patrol about their experiences with permit violations before weighing in on the proposal officially.

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Makes sense to periodically require new passes to get a handle on the number in force. Recording the type of vehicle (4WD or not) requesting the pass would yield a better figure on those potentially driving on the beach. Sorry Subaru owners. Something should be done to limit the lazy from parking on beaches around Maidstone Park and Accabonac Harbor.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Feb 19, 17 9:56 AM