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Jun 14, 2016 4:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Beach Drivers Argue Against Proposed Limits At Picnic Area; Hearing Left Open

A new gate has been installed at Road F off of Meadow Lane, that will allow the Village of Southampton to block off the beach access and funnel all Picnic Area access through the helipad parking lot. GREG WEHNER
Jun 14, 2016 5:12 PM

A barrage of arguments was made this week against a proposal to limit the number of vehicles allowed at the Picnic Area beach, echoing those at two earlier hearings held by the Southampton Village Board in May.

It was the first time, however, that no one rose to argue in favor of a limit on vehicles.

The Village Board is considering capping, at 175, the number of vehicles that may access the Picnic Area at any given time. The limit would be in effect between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s a move prompted by a lawsuit filed by homeowners along the stretch of beach, who say the village permitting the practice is unfair to those who own properties along that stretch and affects their own enjoyment of the beach.

The Picnic Area is the only stretch of ocean beach in Southampton Town where people are permitted in summer to drive and park on the beach between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., as long as they have a current village beach driving permit.

Residents like Francis Adamczeski, a regular user of the Picnic Area, and Phil Gay, a Water Mill resident and the owner of East End Clambakes in Southampton, had voiced their opposition at the previous two hearings, and did so again last Thursday, June 9.

Jim McLauchlen, who works in his family’s real estate business in Southampton, said the 17th century Dongan Patent guarantees all of the residents of Southampton access to the beach, but that the right is being stripped away.

In 1985, Mr. McLauchlen said, residents were able to drive west on the beach from Halsey Neck Lane to Shinnecock Inlet. By the mid-1990s, the distance of drivable beach was cut in half twice, so that off-road beach enthusiasts could drive only from Road F to the county park.

“This whole meeting is preemptive, based on a threat, and it’s wrong. That’s not the way this is supposed to work,” Mr. McLauchlen said. “Punishing the rest of the community for a couple of bad apples, if in fact they exist … that’s not right.”

Southampton Town Trustees President Ed Warner also spoke in opposition to the limits the village has proposed. He said people who move to the South Fork are attracted by the things they see that the locals cherish, but then want to change what they have.

“I’ve never been at the Picnic Area in my life,” said Mr. Warner. “I do respect everybody here, and I do want them to cherish what they have. Going forward, if we lose this beach for beach driving, what is next?”

Richard Yastrzemski, a Village Board member, told those in attendance that their arguments did not fall on deaf ears. “Tonight’s comments, I will admit from this group, got more business-like, fact-based—and that’s good,” he said.

While Mr. Yastrzemski said he is not a regular at the Picnic Area, he added that he likes having the ability to drive on the beach. “It’s about protecting those rights,” he said. “That’s what I firmly believe. Where does it stop?”

The meeting was originally planned as a third and final public hearing on the proposed limit, with the anticipation that an environmental impact study would be completed, but a study was not completed.

When everyone who wanted to speak had finished, Mayor Mark Epley made a motion to close the public hearing—but an outcry from members of the public convinced him to keep it open until the environmental impact study is presented at the next meeting, on June 21 at 5 p.m. It is not yet known if the meeting will take place at Village Hall or the Cultural Center on Pond Lane, which is where last Thursday’s meeting was held to accommodate a larger crowd.

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Jim nailed it !!! Well deserved standing ovation and a huge THANK YOU to him! And to all the others who spoke on behalf of the Picnic Area!! We LOVE this beach, its a part of us!!!

MARK YOU CALENDARS FOR THE NEXT HEARING!! Its IMPORTANT that we FILL that room !! Bring your children and your grandma!! REMIND your friends and family about the meeting. Maybe visit a local eatery afterwards. Treat the kids to the park ....
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 14, 16 7:35 PM
3 members liked this comment
Mailed a letter to the Village Mayor, Board and Attorney yesterday. Included a copy of a Letter to the Editor that I wrote and was published recently in the Southampton Press and The Independent on the beach access subject. Included an original copy of an invitation to my familiy's annual Beach Party on Dune Road from 1989. It was our 21st! Offered the Village Board additional info and photos of that era of the beach and our vehicles, if they could find them useful.
"They paved Paradise and ...more
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Jun 14, 16 10:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Village officials should seriously reconsidered putting a limit the number of vehicles, let the homeowner sue..do not try and compromise...let it play out in court and leave things at the 'Picnic Area" the way it has been for well over 6 decades...do not give in to the wealthy at the expense of the year round residents, we work to hard ALL YEAR LONG!!!!!
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Jun 15, 16 6:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
While you are enjoying a beautiful beach weekend , Please remind everyone about the next PUBLIC HEARING this Tuesday, June 21, at 5pm ! We must keep attending these meetings !!!!! The Picnic Area belongs to the everyone and not the homeowners who cant stand that we ruin their view!!
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 18, 16 8:18 AM
SABA needs to do own environmental study as to all the huge houses being built down on Meadow Lane and how that is affecting the dunes!!!! We have been driving on for decades and the beach is still there........Environmental study is going to be the Mayor's way of taking the blame off of himself and the Board when they decide to limit the vehicles.......which it already seems the decision is made and they are just waiting for this "environmental study" to be complete . I honestly don't think they ...more
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Jun 20, 16 8:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 20, 16 6:47 PM
Reminder PUBLIC HEARING Tomorrow June 21st @ 5pm...SH Cultural Center !!
Results of the Village Boards Environmental study is set to be shared!!! This should be interesting!

We must keep going to these meetings as difficult as it may be for some of us!! Remind everyone!! Bring your kids!! Bring ur grandparents!

Volunteer EMTS & Fireman...wear your T-shirts !
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 20, 16 6:54 PM
definitely at the Cultural Center?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 20, 16 7:47 PM
I sure hope so !!!
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 20, 16 11:19 PM
Count me in!
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Jun 21, 16 12:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
Lets FILL that room for Tim Behringer, Gary MacNamara and Jim Aery!!!!!
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jun 21, 16 10:41 AM