Categorized | Express Editorials

Editorials 7/28/11

Posted on 29 July 2011

Twenty-five’s a Crowd

We realize the temptation is out there. We live in one of the most coveted summer spots in the country, a relative mecca for fishermen and celebrity-seekers alike. In a place like this, at the tip of a small stretch of land, where summer housing options are in very high-demand, it’s relatively easy for homeowners to make a pretty penny on a seasonal rental.

And some have gotten “creative” with what they have to offer.

Modify a standard basement by adding a couple walls and — presto! — a four-bedroom house becomes a two-family complex. Clear the floor space above an ordinary garage and — bam! — suddenly you’ve got an additional housing unit. And why not? Why not push the limits and rake in the income, especially if people are willing to pay?

Well, for one, because it’s illegal. Sure, there are certain laws in this town that we’d all like to see disappear — but the building codes in Southampton Town happen to be in place for a good reason: public safety.

This past weekend, 25 people were all reportedly spending the weekend at one single-family home in Noyac. This was a building that pushed “creative” bounds to the max. Not only did its owners convert its basement and garage into bedroom spaces, but they crammed a crowd of 25 into a six-bedroom house, stretching the legal occupancy limit more than twofold.

We hate to play the proverbial mother, but we shudder to think what could have happened if, say, an untended candle tipped over onto a stray article of clothing in the middle of the night and subsequently ignited an uncontrollable blaze. Twenty-five is not an easy number of people to quickly ease through a series of doorways to safety. (Did we mention this home was also issued two citations for not having functional smoke detectors?)

Cramming 25 people into a six-bedroom home without adequate safety measures is completely irresponsible and risks the health and safety of its occupants — whether they have knowingly submitted to such lackluster conditions, or not.

What’s more, overpopulating a house in a residential area shows little consideration for others in the community who, yes, do have a say in matters of this scale. This is hardly the case of the disgruntled old man complaining of loud music at 3 p.m., or the Martha-Stewart-wannabe citing her neighbor’s lawn for being a quarter-inch too thick.

Property values tend to be lower in more densely populated areas for good reason. And we’re guessing the Noyac neighbors of this so-called “Party House” were well-aware of that when they bought their homes.

Pay it Forward

Nick Kardaras didn’t know — after losing his wedding ring four years ago while swimming in the Peconic Bay — that he would ultimately move from the North Fork to Sag Harbor. He didn’t know that it would be here in the village that he would eventually meet a man who owned a metal detector. And he certainly didn’t know that it would be this very metal detector that would ultimately recover his lost ring.

He didn’t know a darn thing, except that his ring was lost and he had a good feeling he would find it again… someday.

We know stories like this don’t happen all the time, and we certainly don’t mean to suggest “positive vibes” are the sole key to success. But, we do believe Kardaras’ tale has a very relevant takeaway: help can come from the most unlikely of places — often when you least expect it.

It wasn’t his own efforts to rummage through the banks of the Peconic that eventually proved fruitful; it was a stranger with a few hours of time on his hands, whose life philosophy seemed to be “pay it forward.” In fact, that’s exactly what the man told Kardaras when he declined Kardaras’ offer of monetary compensation.
It makes us wonder: if we all took more time out of our day to pay it forward, how many other lost rings might we eventually be able to uncover?

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