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Jun 26, 2013 12:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sustainability Plan Pushback Continues In Southampton Town

Jun 26, 2013 12:23 PM
For the third time in as many months, a large crowd of skeptics blasted Southampton Town’s plans to update its Comprehensive Plan with what it has dubbed a “sustainability element.”

The update would focus on progressive policies to increase energy efficiency and protect the town’s natural resources, and lawmakers and planning experts have repeatedly tried to reassure doubters about the plan’s flexibility and lack of mandates. However, opponents continued to paint it as a legislative effort to seize development rights, impose new controls over a variety of property rights—from landscaping to water usage—and herd residents into hamlet centers.

“Most of this thing looks extremely dangerous,” Southampton resident Jim McLauchlen said. “You’re being very elusive in your answers. You say, ‘Oh, it’s just a framework,’ but the key phrase in that was you have to pass it to see what’s in it. We heard that in 2009. That was ObamaCare, if you didn’t know. Once the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t stuff it back in.”

Other residents among the dozen or so who spoke in opposition to the plan spotlighted portions of the sustainability update that speak to reducing carbon emissions, targeting development density around hamlet centers and curtailing water use as hallmarks of a government positioning itself to wrest personal freedoms from residents.

They dismissed changes to the plan made in recent months intended to emphasize that the update, and the Comprehensive Plan itself, are just handbooks or guides for future legislative steps, each of which would have to stand on its own merits in the court of public opinion before it could become law.

“A lot of these changes are just semantics,” said the Reverend Donald Havrilla, pastor of the Southampton Full Gospel Church. “You’re just saying ‘consider’ instead of ‘do.’ But we know that governments have the power to enforce their recommendations.”

Rev. Havrilla and several other speakers nodded to a section of the code that references “carbon offsets” as a worrisome concern for business owners that harkens to the national debate over carbon credits. Town planners tried to reassure the critics that the offsets in the Comp Plan update were little more than a suggestion for ways a local business could voluntarily take steps to offset its own carbon footprint, by planting trees or the like, just “to be a good neighbor.”

But the critics persisted. Former Town Supervisor Linda Kabot also seized on the discussion of carbon footprints.

“I find it bothersome that the town is considering trading carbon rights in future land use decisions,” said Ms. Kabot, who is challenging Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst for her old seat this fall. She nodded to a section of the plan that discusses possible avenues to reducing the town’s carbon footprint and also pointed to other sections as suggesting creeping regulatory control over matters such as landscaping, lawn sprinkler systems, regulation of pesticide and fertilizer use and the creation of special taxing districts to help fund water quality improvement initiatives.

“Many of the goals outlined here are already on the books, but there are other newer items that need more discussion,” Ms. Kabot said.

For the first time on Tuesday, the number of supporters for the sustainability plan seemed to equal or even outnumber those who objected to it.

“I’m very concerned about some of the comments about taking away property rights,” said Frank Dalene, holding up a well-worn, pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution. “I’m a Constitutionalist. I read it often and I find no problem with the sustainability plan.”

Others nodded to the dozens of other communities and hundreds of corporations that have incorporated sustainability guidelines in their long-term planning.

“If you did not include a sustainability plan in your Comp Plan, you would be among the few who don’t, and in corporate America the first advice you would get would be that you do it,” said Roger Blaugh. “When I was a Boy Scout, we were told that you leave that campsite in as good or better conditions as you found it.”

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, town Planning Department officials submitted several pages of responses and explanations of parts of the plan that came up during previous public discussions. The responses reinforce the town’s efforts to emphasize that the vast majority of the suggestions and recommendations in the update are just extensions of guidelines already in the Comprehensive Plan, which was last updated in 1999, and that none are mandates that would take effect when the plan is adopted.

The full text of the responses are available at Town Hall or on the town website.

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When I was a Boy Scout we were taught to make it look like you were never there after breaking camp, wherever it was.

There is difference between restricting freedoms, and curtailing abuses. When you get the last sentence, just dwell on it for a bit...

"Out of all the water on Earth, salt water in oceans, seas and saline groundwater make up about 97% of it. Only 2.5–2.75% is fresh water, including 1.75–2% frozen in glaciers, ice and snow, 0.7–0.8% as fresh ...more
By Mr. Z (11670), North Sea on Jun 26, 13 5:04 PM
Mr Z just because you can copy Wikipedia on every subject does not make you intelligent. It just shows you have too much spare time.
By chief1 (2786), southampton on Jun 27, 13 7:36 AM
Actually, if I had too much spare time I'd transcribe information from the Encyclopedia.

Fresh water, or "blue gold" has been the issue of privatization in many areas of the world. You may want to check out how rainwater collection is illegal sometime.
By Mr. Z (11670), North Sea on Jun 30, 13 7:49 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By ITM, Southampton on Jun 26, 13 5:37 PM
I have serious questions about the failure of the town board to take ownership of Southampton 400+ Sustainability Element. They are going to vote on something they can't or won't explain. There are 27 regulatory recommendations, the board makes no assertions as to their implementation. Because the plan is not approved the recommendations as described carry no force of law. So the citizens have to wait for the plan to be approved before the implementation process can begin. They will not commit ...more
By tom (53), Hampton Bays on Jun 26, 13 11:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
So now Linda Kabot has thrown in her lot with the conspiracy theorists, the hard right, the Tea Partyers, and the UN-is-evil crowd. Why? Because she sees votes there is why.

This is the worst sort of cynicism. Linda Kabot, whatever her faults of inattention to the town's fiscal downslide years ago, whatever her faults of cronyism and patronage, whatever her faults of Southampton GOP careerism, never struck me as an ideological extremist or a reactionary. Yet here she is, right alongside ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Jun 27, 13 9:35 AM
i find it quite fascinating that if you have a different point of view you may be categorized. if i were to look at the group that participated in the formulation of these ideas, and you may also feel free to put 'liberals' in the same group and probably most 'democrats', i would have to say i would call them a bunch of commies, communists, pinkos, reds. the main problem with the southampton 400+ plan for is that it is full of the same kind of institutions that brought us to where we are today. ...more
By sstorch (47), water milll on Jun 28, 13 5:40 PM
No, Turkey Bridge (aka George Lynch - Member of the Executive Committee of the Southampton Town Democratic Party) - You are wrong. I stand up for my own beliefs about good government, not simply out looking to get a vote. Many people share my beliefs about the Draft Sustainability 400+ Element and having it NOT be adopted as part of the Town's Comprehensive Plan - especially as currently written. There are specific proposals in the document that require further vetting as many people do not believe ...more
By Linda Kabot (14), Quogue on Jun 27, 13 10:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
Madam, I have been posting as Turkey Bridge for almost 900 comments over five years, and everyone knows who I am -- yourself included, as evidenced by your post -- so please don't try to distract us from the real issue by using the non-issue of my screen name.

If your "own beliefs about good government," as you put it, are reflected in the views of the faction opposing the town's sustainability plan, then you've changed, as far as I know. Or maybe you were always a closet extremist. Only ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Jun 27, 13 1:13 PM
George, "things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden." Nobody here, in the anti-plan crowd is using 'distortive tactics'. Maybe we just see things differently than the commies do. The simple damning facts about government, whether republican or democrat is that on the state and federal level it is a corporate state. That is a nice way of saying a fascist state. Local governments have to kow-tow ...more
By sstorch (47), water milll on Jun 29, 13 6:29 AM
See what I mean, Ms. Kabot? Lie down with dogs and you get fleas.
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Jun 29, 13 10:26 AM
what's the matter george, you can't address me personally?
thanks for the complement; people should be more like dogs.
better than being a red. What is it about the 'plan' that you think is so great george. i layed out what i think it lacks and you only offer up insults. Typical of your type, turkey
By sstorch (47), water milll on Jun 29, 13 10:49 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Bill Sutton, Managing Editor (116), Westhampton Beach on Jun 27, 13 1:21 PM
As some who likes LK and ATH, I confess I do not understand the issue at hand. I am not particularly quick or complex. But what I felt I got out of the discussion was that the marriage of a former supervisor was insulted. To me, insult the elected and the electorate is insulted. Perhaps the offensive BTW paragraph can be edited out.
By Speonk Shores (31), Remsenburg on Jun 27, 13 3:28 PM
this is the modis opereendi of most of these folks that favor the 'plan'; if you object to it they call you names and insult you. i have listed what i think is wrong yet george / turkey only casts out aspersions. i still await to hear what george thinks is so great about the 'plan' but just like the town board he cannot or will not tell you.
And this is the quality of person that the democratic party has on their executive committee? feh
By sstorch (47), water milll on Jun 30, 13 6:12 AM
look and see. just turn on the lights and the cockroaches run for cover. need i say more? o turkey man, just looking for discourse... oh well.
By sstorch (47), water milll on Jun 30, 13 7:07 PM
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