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Sep 24, 2018 4:58 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Talks Continue Regarding Erosion Control District In Quogue

Quogue Village Beach. VALERIE GORDON
Oct 1, 2018 1:14 PM

The Quogue Village Board continued discussions on Friday about whether to implement a special erosion control taxing district to fund a $10 million project to rebuild the eastern portion of the village’s public beach.

The proposed taxing district would include 46 beachfront properties, each of which would be assessed approximately $25,000 to $30,000 on their property tax bills each year for 10 years. The district would mimic that of the Bridgehampton and Sagaponack coastal erosion districts, which collect on average $1.3 million per year in real property taxes to pay for beach nourishment.

The plan, outlined by Aram Terchunian, a Westhampton-based coastal geologist who has helped design several large beach nourishment projects, is to dump nearly 526,000 cubic yards of sand along a 1.1-mile stretch of beach spanning from the Quogue Beach Club to the village’s eastern boundary.

Homeowners could be charged either based on total assessed value, linear footage of ocean frontage, or a combination of both, Quogue Village Mayor Peter Sartorius said.

An earlier $15 million proposal, which would have rebuilt the entire 2.7 miles of beach, widening the beach by between 50 and 127 feet, was shot down in 2013 after village officials decided the job was too expensive. The earlier proposal would have included all of the village’s taxpayers in sharing the cost, although Mr. Terchunian explained that the oceanfront homeowners would have been responsible for the bulk of the expense.

The revised proposal will piggyback on a larger sand nourishment project, planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that will reconstruct 4.5 miles of beach between Hampton Bays and East Quogue. Currently, the Army Corps restoration efforts halt at the Quogue Village border.

Earlier this month, village officials sent letters to the owners of each of the 46 properties, asking them to vote on the proposal. As of Monday, 20 people had voted in favor of the project, 11 were opposed, and 15 had yet to reply, according to Mr. Sartorius.

At the Village Board meeting on Friday, homeowners Karen and Andrew Cirincione, who would pay between $17,000 and $25,000 per year, said they were reluctant to accept the terms of the 10-year commitment, arguing that the entire village benefits from the public beach and therefore should be taxed accordingly.

Mr. Cirincione pointed to the state’s Town Law 209-E, which pertains to the creation of special taxing districts. It states “that all of the property and property owners … as are benefited shall be included within such proposed district or extension.”

“A lot of people, including myself, feel it’s very unfair just to tax a certain amount of people when it’s going to benefit the whole village,” Mr. Cirincione said.

“I would not interpret the law that way,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said of Mr. Cirincione’s argument.

To clarify, he explained that benefit assessment districts such as the overlay district are required to be based on rationale. “The village has discretion on who benefits,” he said. “In districts such as this, frontage has been found to be a rational basis for determining benefit.”

Mr. Sartorius pointed out that the Bridgehampton erosion control district includes only those properties with beach frontage. “I sympathize with people who get dragged into this because of where they are,” he said.

In addition to her husband’s argument, Ms. Cirincione noted that she was concerned that the 526,000 cubic yards of sand would not last the 10-year period. “We’re paying whether it gets washed out or not,” she said.

To ease her concern, Mr. Terchunian explained that, on average, the millions of tons of sand that will be deposited on beaches will slowly drift westward at a rate of about 500 feet per year. If the beaches in eastern Quogue are restored to a “healthy” condition, that sand will help maintain them. If they are not, it will do little to bolster beaches there as it will be washed away at a faster rate, he said.

Still, Mr. Sartorius acknowledged that “there’s no guarantee it’s going to last.”

He added that the five-member board has not yet determined when they might make a resolution to either approve or deny the proposal.

When it does come time to vote, Village Trustee Ted Necarsulmer said that his vote would likely support the majority of homeowners. “If there is a significant desire to do this, I’ll say yes. If there isn’t, I’ll say no.”

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Aram Terchunian is a snake oil salesman,
By bigfresh (4593), north sea on Sep 24, 18 5:46 PM
Buying properties is a better use of tax money. Let the beach return to its natural state and make it a public beach. We all win.
By Baymen87 (133), Lugoff, SC on Sep 25, 18 2:18 PM
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