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May 8, 2013 10:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Group For The East End Calls For DEC To Suspend Southampton Village From Permitting Bulkheads

May 8, 2013 10:57 AM

After receiving complaints about newly reconstructed seawalls in Southampton Village, the State Department of Environmental Conservation this month asked the village’s Building Department to hold off on issuing any more permits along a key section of beach while it investigates the conditions under which permits were given just after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the coast.

Group for the East End President Bob DeLuca, wanting to protect the coastline from the domino effect bulkheads can have in changing the beach profile and encouraging erosion, said on Tuesday that he would like the DEC to actually suspend the village’s ability to issue permits in the Coastal Erosion Hazard Area along the beach until village officials have a formal, comprehensive coastal erosion management plan. He also said the permits that were given out in reaction to “every individual crisis” after Hurricane Sandy should be revoked.

“I don’t think these structures are being well planned out, and I’m not sure the village even understood the ramifications of approving them,” he said. “The prospect of every homeowner personally designing a bulkhead to manage coastal erosion is ridiculous.”

The Group for the East End is a non-profit organization that works to protect and restore the natural environment through education, citizen action and public advocacy.

In recent months, Southampton Village homeowners have taken heat for constructing steel and stone seawalls to protect their oceanfront homes in the wake of last fall’s hurricane and subsequent erosion. The projects, which were allowed as post-storm emergency measures, skirted regional public policies that generally forbid new hard structures on the beach, although existing structures can be replaced.

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said, however, that all nine CEHA permits that were given out were approved by the DEC.

“Every permit issued was a permit for an existing bulkhead that was damaged by the hurricane and the nor’easters and was issued in accordance and with guidance from the DEC,” he said. “We issued building permits based upon plans submitted to the DEC and signed off by the DEC.”

The DEC’s investigation is not only in reaction to complaints it received about new, tall steel walls that replaced older ones, but is also a reevaluation of the DEC’s own permitting process, according to the mayor.

“There were so many permits that went in to the DEC across Long Island that it was overwhelming to their office,” he said. While he declined to comment on Mr. DeLuca’s call for a CEHA permit suspension, he did say that Mr. DeLuca doesn’t understand that the permits were approved by the DEC, and said that he “completely agrees” that a coastal management plan needs to be formed.

“The plan can’t be just for the Village of Southampton—from Montauk all the way into the city, we all have to get on the same page,” he said. “We’ve got to go to the Army Corps of Engineers and get support from our congressmen and put a game plan in place. I don’t think it’s right for the Village of Southampton to just look at the Village of Southampton.”

Mr. DeLuca said the village should have a level of technical competence to run their own program and should have been able to evaluate compliance instead of still readily issuing permits for CEHA structures. In the past, the DEC has revoked some villages’ power to issue permits along the beach, including Quogue Village, which recently had that power restored by the DEC.

Despite those claims, the mayor said the DEC approved the projects and the village made sure everything was in compliance with the DEC.

“I feel pretty confident about the work that was done down there,” he said. “I know a couple of property owners in that area where there is no bulkheading, and they want to bulkhead their properties. I’m 100-percent in support of them, because they’re surrounded by bulkheads.”

Bill Fonda, regional spokesman for the DEC, referred questions to the department’s headquarters in Albany, which did not respond to requests for comment.

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Show us the photos, Mayor Epley, which you saw showing the wood structure that was replaced by steel at Little Plains, because that was no bulkhead. The real old bulkhead survived Sandy, and is still in place in front of the steel, buried under the mountain of sand and snow fencing which now intrudes ON TO the Trustees' beach.

Trustee Havemeyer has confirmed that the steel bulkhead replaced only some "flimsy old staving" which had been erected in recent years behind and above the old existing ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 10, 13 5:51 AM
2 members liked this comment
King Epley has spoken and no dissent will be tolerated!
Some of the existing bulkheading was removed so there would be no reference point when the steel WALL was erected!
The Almighty Mark has overstepped His authority once again, time for Him to go in the next election. Commercial enterprise on the beach anyone? Direct violation of the Village Code, but that's OK His Royal Highness has decreed an exemption for a frien of His!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 10, 13 6:37 AM
2 members liked this comment
BF, the old pre-existing wood bulkhead was still in place as the steel was being driven. You can see it under the photo above -- the left track of the excavator is sitting on top of the old wood bulkhead, which goes back to the early or middle 1900's IMO, although perhaps it was built after the '38 Hurricane?

In any event, they did take out the additional wood dune reinforcements to drive the steel, but it is not accurate to call the removed material a "bulkhead" IMO. Trustee Havemeyer ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 10, 13 7:02 AM
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 10, 13 7:03 AM
Havemeyer is the only voice of reason. A good trustee and understands the political bs and monied mayor and cronies
By blackduck1 (20), southampton on May 10, 13 7:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is where we find out what kind of rocks the DEC has IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 11, 13 8:01 AM
This is a test
By fuou812 (59), Oakdale on May 11, 13 9:04 AM
No fan of the DEC , but this time they have it right! What's happening on oiur beach will have a negative impact for the forseable future. Wait until the next good nor'easter, the houses down drift of this construction will be wiped out! Way to go King Mark, way to go.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 11, 13 2:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Given Trustee Havemeyer's clear statements about the steel bulkhead, and in view of the current mountain of sand and snow fencing OVER the Trustee's beach, is it not curious that the Southampton Town Trustees have been so silent recently?

Check it out in person at Little Plains Beach.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 12, 13 6:58 AM
There are people in this town who would like to muzzle Fred Havemeyer and other Trustees who are speaking truth to power. These forthright public servants deserve the public's full support, as anyone who knows anything about the beach -- and is not acting out of narrow self-interest -- will tell you.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on May 13, 13 11:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
Ditto IMO.

Hopefully the Press has already filed a FOIL request with the Village for the photos Mayor Epley claims to have seen at the Building Dept. to justify the new steel bulkhead (see first comment above).
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 13, 13 12:18 PM
Two DEC men with a camera just inspected at Little Plains.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 14, 13 10:30 AM
Is there a building permit for the new stairs going in?

Nothing as grand was there before Sandy IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 18, 13 9:14 AM
No action announced by the DEC?

With the election coming up, the Town Trustees must go public on this IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 29, 13 9:20 AM
New article in Press.

The Golden Rule prevails.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 1, 13 7:12 AM