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Jul 13, 2016 9:32 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Board Nears Vote On Picnic Area Driving Limit

Earlier this year, a gate was installed at Road F in Southampton Village. GREG WEHNER
Jul 13, 2016 1:02 PM

A fifth public hearing on a proposal to limit vehicles at the stretch of ocean beach known as the “Picnic Area” will be held this week, and the expectation is that the Southampton Village Board will make it the final one before voting on the proposal.

A hearing on June 22 was supposed to be the last but was left open to allow board members time to review an environmental impact statement that was completed by Nelson, Pope and Voorhis of Melville, and released on June 16.

That environmental statement issued a negative declaration, meaning that if the Village Board approves the proposed amendment to limit the number of vehicles allowed at the Picnic Area at a single time, it is not expected to pose any more of an environmental threat than exists currently.

Mayor Mark Epley said the hope was that capping at 175 the number of vehicles allowed at the western end of Meadow Lane would resolve some of the concerns of a lawsuit filed by nearby homeowners who say beach driving diminishes their own enjoyment of the beach.

“Going into this, I felt there were opportunities to resolve the lawsuits,” Mr. Epley said.

“It probably won’t eliminate the lawsuit,” Village Board member Richard Yastrzemski said. “The intention was, when it ends up in front of a judge, and he looks at both sides, we can say, ‘Well, we did this.’”

The 2,000-foot-long Picnic Area is the only stretch of ocean beach in Southampton where people are permitted to drive and park between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. in summer, as long as they have a village beach driving permit.

Over the past three weekends, Mr. Epley said, he has been going down to the Picnic Area to count cars and get an idea of how many people go down there. On June 25 at 2 p.m., he said he counted 98 vehicles on the beach; on July 3, 175 vehicles at 1 p.m.; on July 4, 117 cars at 3 p.m.; and on Sunday, July 10, 20 cars in the afternoon.

On the day he counted 175 vehicles, he said, the area was crowded but there was still space between cars—even, at times, enough space for four or five vehicles.

The hearing will be held on Thursday, July 14, at 6 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center at 25 Jobs Lane. Board members said early this week they did not yet know if they will vote on the proposal after closing the public hearing that day.

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The meeting is at the Southampton Arts Center and not the Cultural Center.
By shch (4), Southampton on Jul 13, 16 12:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
oh how sneaky to change the location
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jul 13, 16 1:34 PM
July 3rd was beautiful out and it was a holiday weekend, all of the other weekends the number of vehicles on the beach was way under........this lawsuit is frivolous.....leave the beach the way it has been for decades...
By rjhdad (73), southampton on Jul 13, 16 6:24 PM
Thursday, 6 pm, Arts Center, be there.
Spread the word. Bring your family and friends.
By Hamptons Seashell (34), Southampton on Jul 13, 16 10:17 PM
1/all of these homeowners knowing purchased these properties with the 4x4 access in front. You just cannot miss the signage or the vehicles.
2/the Village brought this about by squeezing all the 4x4's into a smaller zone.

What this really is, is a money play. If they can remove the 4x4s from the beach altogether their homes, that they paid much less for than other homes without driving in front, will be worth much more they will sell profit and leave. Why? well you cant move the helipad ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jul 14, 16 6:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
Nelson, pope, and vorhees has written up the eaf for the village. How two faced are they and only doing it for a check.
They are the ones the are representing private homeowners in the Napeague beach Driving lawsuit and have testified in court AGAiNST beach driving.
I hope that they are consistent in their eaf's and not biased when they represent the greedy homeowners trying to privatize the beaches of east hampton.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Jul 14, 16 6:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
Public Hearing today , Southampton Arts Center @ 6pm !! Lets pack that room! See u there !!
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Jul 14, 16 7:57 AM
2 members liked this comment
At last night's final public hearing on the subject, the village board decided not to act on the proposed ordinance change at this time.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jul 15, 16 6:41 AM
Thank you to all the usual suspects who have continually, over the last thirty-plus years, shown up to meetings and spoken publicly in defense of beach access and keeping the picnic area open as it should be.

It takes a Village-to raise the issues of their proprietors; but it takes a COMMUNITY to band together to quell the attempts of the wealthy, seasonal, land grabbing, carpetbagging-otherwise probably really nice lovely people.
Peace out.
By foodwhiner (148), Southampton on Jul 15, 16 10:10 AM
In the article, the mayor admitted that on the busiest beach holiday of the year, the July 4th weekend, there were, at the most, 175 vehicles on the beach (the proposed cap) and that there was STILL plenty of room for more. Additionally, the environmental review has found that the presence of vehicles is environmentally irrelevant.

Why is he still discussing this? Just defend the lawsuit for god's sake. Send the Araskogs back to NYC. There's a very nice ocean beach THERE - - - Coney ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jul 15, 16 5:58 PM
1 member liked this comment