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Feb 24, 2016 4:32 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Trustees Surrender Authority Over Village Beach Driving

Town Trustees held a public hearing on Wednesday, February 24, regarding their authority over ocean facing beaches in incorporated villages. GREG WEHNER
Mar 2, 2016 10:31 AM

The Southampton Town Trustees officially acknowledged a recent court decision and surrendered their authority over beach driving in incorporated villages, just minutes after a public hearing was held on Wednesday, February 24.

Last month’s ruling prohibited the Trustees from appealing an earlier decision that stripped them of their ability to regulate erosion control devices along oceanfront beaches within incorporated villages. Some village officials—West Hampton Dunes Mayor Gary Vegliante in particular—suggested that it also meant that the Trustees lack the authority to issue 4x4 ocean beach driving permits for village beaches, as they have traditionally done for years.

In response, the Trustees reworded some of the language in their 4x4 rules, handing over that responsibility to the incorporated villages. At the same time, they added language that reinforced their right to regulate driving on ocean beaches in the unincorporated parts of town.

According to the attorney representing the Trustees, Richard Cahn of Huntington, who addressed the nearly 50 individuals who attended last week’s public hearing, the Trustees have no power to regulate beach driving in incorporated villages along the ocean\.

Of the individuals who packed the room, 12 actually spoke in support the board’s efforts to protect beach access.

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley addressed the board at the beginning of the public hearing, and said he has a 4x4 vehicle that he likes to drive on the beach. “My goal is to protect my ability to drive on the beach,” he said, also pointing out the need to make more beaches accessible, as the number of 4x4 vehicles on the beaches increase.

Mr. Epley said that in the next few months, he and the Southampton Village Board plan to consider code changes that will further protect the right to drive on beaches in the village, and to come up with a plan to add more beaches to the list where beach driving is permitted.

John Kosciusko, the president of Southampton Association for Beach Access, also gave the Trustees his association’s support, especially when it comes to legislation to clarify the roles of the Trustees.

Although Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Maria Moore was not in attendance, she said in an email that the Westhampton Beach Village Board will be discussing the issue of beach access at their March 16 work session, in light of the Trustees court ruling.

Mr. Cahn pointed out that while the Trustees could appeal the recent losses in court, the likelihood of them winning would be next to nil. That being said, he told the Trustees the only remedy to restore powers is through an legislation in Albany.

After the meeting, Trustee Scott Horowitz said he has been in talks with State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. to come up with new legislation that would help define the role of the Town Trustees. “We need to make the point clear to legislators that it’s important for this town to protect this [beach access] for future generations,” Mr. Horowitz said.

After the public hearing, Southampton Town Councilwoman Julie Lofstad told the Trustees that she went to the town attorney’s office after listening to the public speak, and that she plans to propose a resolution to support the Trustees.

“To me, the most important thing is the access to our beaches, and for you guys to do the regulating that you need to do to keep them available to us,” Ms. Lofstad told the Trustees.

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This is a sad time for the Trustees -- perhaps they should be disbanded.
By Frank Wheeler (1818), Northampton on Feb 24, 16 6:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
that's not a very intelligent solution. The residents and freeholders of the town need the Trustees.
By Jaws (243), Amity Island on Feb 25, 16 2:19 AM
To do what, exactly? They fight among themselves, they get involved in lawsuits -- which cost money -- and then lose them!

What have they accomplished, of a positive nature, lately? How have they represented the best interest of the freeholders of Southampton Town?

The Dongan Patent used to be sacred -- what now?

Make your case for the Board of Trustees -- give specifics as to why "the needs the Trustees."
By Frank Wheeler (1818), Northampton on Feb 25, 16 4:35 PM
The east hampton trustees should be put on notice now.
If they continue to Recognize the dec, give bottom lands to sag harbor, give trustee roads to town and the culmative effect is this.
The total loss of any jurisdiction they have.

Hopefully the recognize they were elected to protect their rights and not give them away.

And yes, sad times in Southampton. Still all have to recognize there is major differences between east hampton 4x4 regulations and southamptons.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Feb 24, 16 8:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
Once again, money talks. Sad day, indeed
By itsamazing (222), Southampton on Feb 24, 16 9:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
If the Trustees did what they were actually elected to do (be stewards of the bay and ocean) instead of just collecting fees and taking from the bay and ocean then they wouldn't be in this mess. What about ocean bulkheads, brown/red tide, diminished shellfishing, pollution....? I could be wrong but I'd like to hear some good news coming from the Trustees instead of failures. If they're not doing anything then stop PAYING them!
By lirider (284), Hampton Bays on Feb 25, 16 11:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
Greg, you reported 12 people supported the trustees. You totally misreported it. The 50 people supported the trustees, only about 12 spoke.
Report the FACTS...
By knitter (1858), Southampton on Feb 25, 16 12:31 PM
Look - It's the ghost of Quint in the second row on the left!
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Feb 25, 16 2:09 PM
keep all vehicles- except emergency ones- off the beach.
By realistic (465), westhampton on Feb 25, 16 3:19 PM
I agree and I will take it one two steps further. Not only does driving on the beach erode it, but it's rude to anyone else who wants to walk on it - leaving tire tracks pedestrians have to dodge long after the driver has gone. And just because grandpa did it, doesn't make it right.

As for the trustees, i agree with lirider. I don't see how they are relavent anymore. protecting "the right" to drive on the beach shouldn't be their cause d'etre. The villages/town/county (with the possible ...more
By winkelby (38), westhampton on Feb 26, 16 4:53 AM
FYI~ there are more footprints in the sand from pedestrians than tire tracks.
By Jaws (243), Amity Island on Mar 3, 16 11:16 PM
Realistic- 4x4's have cruised the beaches since before your time... And hopefully they will after it, too.

Let me guess, you must be one of the ones that bought a house near an airport, and complain of noise...?
By The Royal 'We' (198), Southampton on Feb 25, 16 3:45 PM
Yes "The Royal We" and we used to light our homes with whale oil. Why don't we do that anymore? And no- I don't own a house near the airport and I like the private jets coming in delivering all the people who keep our tax base low and support all the "locals" who build their homes, teach in our schools, work in the landscaping business, restaurants, etc. you get the picture- Correct?
By realistic (465), westhampton on Feb 26, 16 7:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
yes "realistic" us "locals" are the ones who work so hard , round the clock to cater to the demands in this area in order to survive here. So I feel we rightfully deserve to continue on with a time honored tradition...Enjoying a relaxing day at the beach with our family and yes, our 4x4"s. Hopefully u can see it from my angle....
By toes in the water (881), southampton on Feb 26, 16 5:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Tradition folks, tradition. Something the newcomers from away have little knowledge of. We used to be able to drive the entire beach , from Town Line Rd to the inlet. We have lost our access little by little, the Village sold off the inlet beach to the County. We are forced into a tiny area and that has caused crowded conditions on some weekends during the summer, what we need is MORE access, if the beachgoers were allowed to spread out on the entire beach as we are most of the year, the crowds ...more
By bigfresh (4546), north sea on Feb 26, 16 6:19 PM
The Trustees hands down have helped to keep our heritage alive...as well as doing what they have been elected to do!! The overcrowding is everywhere and for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction ( hint hint on the surf camp)
lirider, u pointed out diminished shellfishing....overcrowding! Pesticides an chemicals from all the beautiful homes! illegals! Fishing camps out of sag harbor teaching wealthy children how to clam! The Trustees can only do so much to protect whats changing ...more
By toes in the water (881), southampton on Feb 26, 16 7:02 PM
Trustees have advocated tirelessly for Public access. On the beaches, and by making sure the Ponquogue fishing pier will be a safe place to enjoy and preserve all the vital habitat beneath, once the project is complete. They are in the process of updating office technology for better permit handling and enforcement. They are working on modernizing records storage, in addition to gearing up for plover and pump out boat season. Continually educating the public, applicants, other officials on environmental ...more
By 007 (45), East Quogue on Feb 28, 16 9:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
It is high time that the Trustees cavalier behavior be curbed. The Courts seem to feel the same way.
By cjs (6), southampton on Mar 1, 16 7:04 AM
Well cjs, judging from your comments posted in the past, it certainly appears that you have a personal grudge against the Trustees.
By toes in the water (881), southampton on Mar 1, 16 1:42 PM
Hey i want to drive my truck into a church, any problems oh and buy the way Im making sure my truck can drive int the water too. Hey i have rights
By yassar arafar (33), sag harbor on Mar 7, 16 3:16 PM
Thats mature! Read the Dongan Patent established in 1686! Drive a truck into a buiding an see what happens. Your comparison is so far off that a little education might do wonders for you! See you at the beach !!! PS SUPPORT THE TOWN TRUSTEES!!
By toes in the water (881), southampton on Mar 8, 16 8:54 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By toes in the water (881), southampton on Mar 8, 16 8:54 AM
Where does it mention automobiles?: THOMAS DONGAN, Capt-Gen-erall Governour in Chiefe and Vice Admirall of the Province of New yorke, and its Dependencyes Under his Majesty James the Second by the grace of God of England Scotland ffrance and Ireland King Defender of the faith &c To all to whome this shall come Sendeth Greeting Whereas Richard Nicolls Esquire Governor Generall under his then Royall Highness James Duke of Yorke & Albany &c now his present Majesty of all his Territoryes in America ...more
By bridgewoodsmom (14), bridgehampton on Mar 9, 16 8:48 AM
That is the patent for EASTHAMPTON
By bigfresh (4546), north sea on Mar 9, 16 9:09 AM
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