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Aug 22, 2012 11:27 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Around Southampton Town Hall: Busy Summer For Code Enforcement

Aug 29, 2012 10:32 AM

Southampton Town has leveled nearly $30,000 in fines on the owners of 13 properties for violating town rental laws in the last three months.

Homeowners in Hampton Bays, Tuckahoe, North Sea and Noyac have been hit with up to $9,000 in fines for failing to obtain rental permits from the town before renting their homes over the summer. One landlord was cited for illegally dividing a single-family home into three apartments.

Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi chalked the hefty fines paid this summer up to aggressive enforcement by town code officers of the town rental law, which he co-authored during his first term on the Town Board in 2007, and of town attorneys seeking steeper penalties for landlords who violate the law. He also credited the revival of an advisory panel known as the Housing and Quality of Life Task Force, that advises the Town Board on enforcement actions and procedural changes for improving enforcement of town housing codes. The task force is made up of town attorneys, code officers, zoning officials, the fire marshal and representatives from the town justice court and police departments.

“The ultimate goal is to bring rental properties into compliance for the sake of the tenant’s safety and the integrity of the neighborhood,” he said in a written statement. “But in the meantime, the law gives us the ability to hit greedy landlords directly in their pocketbooks.”

The rental law requires that rental properties meet strict safety codes, limits the number of people a house can be rented to and prohibits short-term rental of less than 30 days.

Special Meeting On Beach Rebuilding

The Town Board will host a special meeting on Thursday, August 30, at 4 p.m. at Town Hall to continue the public hearing on the proposed Atlantic Ocean beach reconstruction project in Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack.

Town Board Adjusts Schedule

The Southampton Town Board has moved its weekly work session from Fridays to Thursdays.

The start times for the meetings will remain the same, officially 9:30 a.m.

The board’s regular bi-monthly meetings will continue to be held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

Town Preserves Lands, Squabbles Over Housing

The Town Board on Tuesday evening accepted the transfer of two small parcels of open space from Suffolk County, for only the cost of real estate taxes owed to the county on the properties, one in East Quogue and one in Riverside. The county seized the properties for non-payment of taxes. The money to pay the taxes and transfer the properties to the town is to come from the town’s Community Preservation Fund, for open space protection.

The East Quogue property is just under three-quarters of an acre and lies within the Weesuck Creek watershed, an area that has been targeted for maximum preservation by the CPF steering committee.

The Riverside property is just three-tenths of an acre but is surrounded by 16 acres of land already preserved by the town.

The Town Board could not come to an agreement, however, to close on a transfer of a Hampton Bays property from the county that had been targeted for affordable housing. The property, likewise seized for non-payment of taxes, was to be the site of a partnership between the town’s Housing Authority, the United Way and Youth Build USA, which teaches kids from low income families construction skills by building affordable housing projects around the country.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming had pressed to have the town accept the transfer from the county, which had a deadline of August 29, but other Town Board members said they could not approve the project on Tuesday because people from the Hampton Bays community had not been given a chance to offer their input on the project.

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst noted that since the house that was proposed to be built on the property was to be an affordable rental property—a requirement of the Youth Build program’s funding sources—she was not comfortable proceeding without comment from Hampton Bays residents, particularly in light of recent complaints about rental housing overcrowding in the hamlet and a row with residents over consideration of rental housing in Flanders last month. Councilman Jim Malone and Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera voiced agreement with Ms. Throne-Holst, over Ms. Fleming’s pleas to allow the project to go forward.

“We want to hear from the community at large in Hampton Bays, to make sure they’re okay with the rental preference,” Ms. Throne-Holst said, adding that the town can appeal to the county for an extension on acquiring the property to allow for a public discussion—something the county has granted several times in the past, she said.

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Code Enforcement has been up in my neighborhood of late. Nice job Mr. Betts and crew - keep up the good work!
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Aug 22, 12 1:09 PM
Mr. Betts isn't the reason Code Enforcement is being so busy. It's the enforcement workers and the volumn of complaints coming in. Mr. Bettes tries to take all the credit and fluff at various civic meeting and press releases (notice his name in paper each time) in order to bolster his resume trying to run for the Town Council position again....He knows nothing about code regulations hes just a good pitchman...
By The Squirl (36), Red creek on Aug 23, 12 4:37 PM
Re the Hampton Bays property slated for the Youth Build project, would it not be possible for the county to extend its Aug. 29 deadline for acceptance of the transfer, in order to allow for community input? Seems like that should be doable, assuming everyone is working together.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 4, 12 11:44 AM