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Oct 2, 2018 5:00 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Hires Outside Counsel For Potential Rose Hill Battle

Southampton Town officials have hired attorneys to prepare for future litigation regarding a Trustee-owned property on Rose Hill Road that was recently modified by an adjacent homeowner. GREG WEHNER
Oct 3, 2018 10:59 AM

Southampton Town officials have hired an attorney to look at a deal that allowed a homeowner to take over a portion of Town Trustee-owned property in exchange for the promise to dredge the area around it and maintain the property.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the town is poised to file a lawsuit against the Trustees.

The property, known as Hayground Cove, is a Trustee-owned 0.61-acre property with a boat ramp on the northern edge of Mecox Bay and is located at 475 Rose Hill Road. It was recently obtained by the Trustees from Southampton Town in a land swap for a parcel near the traffic circle in Riverside, with the intent of creating a town park.

Shortly after taking the parcel over, the Trustees entered into a maintenance agreement with the neighboring homeowner, Randy Frankel, who said he would maintain the property, including dredging sand that collects near the boat ramp at least twice a year, plowing the snow and keeping up with the landscaping. In exchange, Mr. Frankel was allowed to build part of his circular driveway on the Trustee-owned land.

But the Trustees have been met with a sustained public outcry over the deal, with many community members saying the agreement should never have taken place. But the question now is whether or not the deal was legal. Officials have sought a determination on whether the property should be designated as parkland, which would void the deal with Mr. Frankel.

“We transferred the property to the Trustees, believing they would continue to manage it similar to the way the town had managed it,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “They licensed a third of it to an adjacent property owner. There has been quite a bit of community outcry over that, and the alienation of parkland.”

Mr. Schneiderman said the property was purchased by the town so that the public could access the water, which could make it parkland.

“If it turns out that it’s not parkland, [the Trustees] had the right to enter into an agreement,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “If not, they didn’t.

“I believe it may be parkland. I’m not 100 percent sure, but it was purchased for water access,” he added.

In June, Mr. Schneiderman and Town Trustee President Ed Warner Jr. sent a letter to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and State Park Commissioner Rose Harvey to seek their opinions on whether the property qualifies as parkland. If it turned out to be parkland, the deal with the homeowner could be considered “park alienation,” a term used to describe a municipality’s illegal abandonment of parkland.

But the state declined to render an opinion, according to Mr. Schneiderman.

“The only way to get an opinion is to get a declaratory judgment from a judge,” he said.

Town Board members approved the hiring of John Wagner, an attorney out of Hauppauge, during a meeting on September 25, and although a suit has not been filed yet, Mr. Schneiderman said he and board members are looking at their options. A suit may be the only way to get the declaratory judgment.

Mr. Schneiderman said he has been in contact with Mr. Frankel and has discussed reducing the alterations he initially made to the property, but that can’t happen now until a judge determines if it was alienation of parkland.

He added that he believes all of the parties acted in good faith.

Mr. Warner said on Tuesday that he would rather talk things out with town officials and Mr. Frankel, instead of going through the legal process.

"It shouldn't be a fight," Mr. Warner said. "I firmly believe in working through stuff."

Former Trustee Fred Havemeyer, who along with a handful of other residents, has threatened legal action of their own, declined to comment on the board's move to hire outside counsel.

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Been following this for quite sometime looks like it is really going to be interesting
By Ziggyq (8), Quogue on Oct 3, 18 11:47 AM

One hand is going to spank the other hand, at outrageous cost with attorneys on both sides.

Did the Trustees exceed their authority, and thus could be personally liable for damages and attorneys fees?

Hmmmm . . . .

Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle !!!

By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Oct 3, 18 1:24 PM
3 members liked this comment
Stay tuned...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 6, 18 11:48 PM
Land deal was done before TRUSTees got it from the town???
Not one permit issued for the work. wetlands, illegal dredging, illegal paving. The TRUSTees can't get a permit to dredge open mecox. Money talks all over...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 3, 18 2:02 PM
... who gave the trustees legal advice on this maneuver? Was it one of the town attorneys or did they take it upon themselves to make this deal? The supervisor knew nothing of this while it was in progress? How 'bout the town board? It's too big a deal for no one to have any idea this was happening.

Who is looking out for the best interests of the residents and the future of the town here?

By William Rodney (561), southampton on Oct 3, 18 5:05 PM
Bruce Stafford was the point "man" for this disaster , in a Trustee meeting he said that he approached the homeowner about the scam, if he's telling the truth , he should be liable for starting the ball rolling, if he lied than nothing more than a shill for the homeowner and did his bidding by bringing the scam to the Board.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Oct 3, 18 5:07 PM
3 members liked this comment
Yet you seem to support the party of no accountability...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 6, 18 11:49 PM
So pray tell me who is going to pay the legal fees,are we the TAX payers going to foot this bill.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Oct 3, 18 5:18 PM
So pray tell me who is going to pay the legal fees,are we the TAX payers going to foot this bill.When will the trustees do some work to prevent the bay washing on to Corwin Lane HB.Take a look Trustees you do not need a legal openion to figure this one out.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Oct 3, 18 5:22 PM
Did the Trustees issue a permit for the dredging ? How about the N.Y.S.D.E.C. & Corps of Engineers; the upland work would have needed approvals from the N.Y.S.D.E.C. and the Town Conservation Board.
By Ziggyq (8), Quogue on Oct 3, 18 6:03 PM
This project mysteriously did not require any DEC or Town approvals. Things that make you go hmmmm?
By Harbor Master (114), Sag Harbor on Oct 3, 18 8:32 PM
"but that can’t happen now until a judge determines if it was alienation of parkland" said Mr. Frankel

He should have said alienation of the community. But on the other hand... it is parkland now. His parkland. For parking cars. It all makes perfect sense. Everything has a price.
By Harbor Master (114), Sag Harbor on Oct 3, 18 8:31 PM
The former owner of the property is a democratic contributor and very connected. Anna Throne Holst was making a deal while running for Congress..... connect the dots and stop the Bull poop of hiring a lawyer for a fact finding sham.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 3, 18 9:03 PM
2 members liked this comment
Very Interesting. He said, she said and the TRUTH,,,
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 3, 18 10:29 PM
this is a step in the right direction
By deKooning (106), southampton on Oct 4, 18 11:32 AM
de, step in the right direction??? Town suing a town entity??? How stupid, walk across the hall and talk. Investigate the worn doing.
No word from the one in charge of it???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 4, 18 1:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."
[Walter Scott]

the deceivers know who they are, so do the people. resign in shame, go away. the town board has been lying to the people of the town for decades. they came up with the lie of the "tourist and second home industry" and now that they have polluted the place to death all they have to offer is, well nothing; they have nothing to offer in as much as any kind of solution. the toxic blue green algae is ...more
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 6, 18 5:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
not too dramatic . . . .
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Oct 6, 18 7:43 AM
not too dramatic . . . .
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Oct 6, 18 7:43 AM
you see my name signed? your pen name nullifies any comment capt sig makes. anony-mouse. no addition to thought process or content. 'they' are stealing our stuff and polluting us out of what we hold dear and that is all you have to say? very nice.
By sstorch (49), water milll on Oct 6, 18 9:53 AM
yes I have more to say- calm down stupid
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Oct 7, 18 7:08 AM
Name calling ......childish .

The content of the mans posts displays an intelligence far beyond yours so plz don’t hate on what your fear Sig . TY.

By toes in the water (884), southampton on Oct 8, 18 7:56 AM
Here's some free legal advice: hire a lawyer BEFORE you screw things up. Definitely Send In The Clowns time!
By allpeoplecount (69), eastport on Oct 6, 18 4:49 PM
Clam shell parking lot? Too rough for my dainty feet. Good ol grass and dirt was fine...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 6, 18 9:57 PM
What total incompetence all around, and total waste of taxpayers money on this litigation. Whatever the town pays lawyers to sort out this bungle, we are not getting in services. Where is the leadership? Come on Jay, get in a room and figure this out, that’s what we pay you for. Not to spend even more of our money punting it to lawyers. Awful
By CPalmer (122), Southampton on Oct 7, 18 8:23 AM
Yes Jay- the dumbazz trustees have crapped on the carpet again- please clean up the mess
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Oct 8, 18 7:27 AM
Don't use the ditsy lawyer the TRUSTees had before.......
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 7, 18 6:41 PM
She was complicit in the deal, why else would she approve such a one sided deal??!! Where is Kara working these days?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Oct 8, 18 6:04 PM
Its time to call the district atty and find out who did what. Giving away public property in a back room is a felony
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 8, 18 9:51 PM
Involving the district attorney is like getting the fbi involved.Can't be that stupid, has to be a back yard deal.
Ramps full of sand again,[yesterday]. Water is REALLY high again... Look at the depth gauge at the Villa..
Big guy says nothing, his area???.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 10, 18 12:00 PM