Noyac residents during a citizens advisory committee meeting Tuesday night got a lesson on what the Southampton Town justice system can and cannot do.
Town justice Thomas DeMayo, who is seeking re-election this fall and faces a primary challenge from Andrea Harum Schiavoni, was the guest speaker at the CAC’s monthly meeting, and told the audience that he has seen a marked growth in certain problem centers.
“Domestic violence has increased dramatically,” said the judge. “It’s mind boggling.”
This is why, said the judge, that the town has initiated immediate processing for orders of protection.
He has also seen a growth in drug abuse, especially in the instance of heroin and crystal meth use.
“There has been a major increase” he said, “and in drugs we typically didn’t see years ago.”
He said that while the town police department has been successful at arresting those who have possession of drugs, catching those who are distributing the drugs is a tougher problem.
“Southampton Town has its own street crime unit, but it is very difficult to get the source,” said DeMayo.
A lot of the drugs, he said, were coming through the local schools.
He also expressed his frustration at the growth in driving while intoxicated charges.
“If you saw the amount of DWIs that come in you’d stay home on Saturday night,” he said.
The judge was quizzed on how the town could be held accountable for enforcing its own codes. In particular, CAC member Julie Penny wondered why the town had not pursued enforcing its agreements to monitor and penalize Golf at the Bridge for violating its management procedures, something Penny had complained to the town about on several occasions.
“You have a right to be notified if your complaint is to be entertained,” DeMayo told Penny.
Â “But we never hear anything,” Penny responded.
“Use your power as a citizen, the squeaky wheel gets the grease,”said DeMayo.
“We complain weekly,” Penny pursued.
“Try again, we have new town attorneys,” said DeMayo.
Carmine Martino raised concerns about what he considered lax code enforcement in the hamlet, particularly a former storage building on a neighboring property he felt was illegal.
“We’ve tried for several years to get the town to address it, but we’re told nothing, other than it’s pre-existing,” said Martino.
“It’s probably considered a structure,” said the judge. “If this has been there prior to 1957 then it pre-exists zoning.”
“So that means you can have crap in your front yard?” asked Martino incredulously.
Southampton Town Councilman Dan Russo, who is the council’s liaison to code enforcement, told Martino that any complaints can be made directly to his office, and that he would personally visit the site with officers.
The judge was also pushed on his political future. A four term incumbent, he was recently overlooked by party leaders in favor of Schiavoni, who has secured the endorsements of four of five local parties.
“Four times I’ve always had the Conservative endorsement. This year I was told, yes, we believe you are a conservative candidate and you have our endorsement,” DeMayo recounted. “The next thing I heard I’ve been advised that I am not getting the Conservative endorsement. I don’t know why. I’m not sure if there was some back room deal, but it sure sounds that way. I’m a true Conservative representative. I believe less government is the best government.”