By Claire Walla
The Southampton Town Board is close to making a decision on whether or not to grant an operating license to the Mecox Sailing Association at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill. But—with an important permit still pending—the board is not yet ready to weigh-in fully on the case.
After receiving approval from the DEC on June 16, the board is now waiting from the town Conservation Board to see whether or not plans provided by the Mecox Sailing Club to develop the land would be approved. (The Southampton Town Conservation Board met last night at 7 p.m., shortly after this paper went to press.)
At a town board meeting last Tuesday, July 9, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that the town would have to hear back from the conservation board before meeting again with homeowners (many of whom are opposed to the plan) and those representing the proposed sailing club to “iron out” some of the remaining issues both parties have. The town is set to address the issue again at a board meeting September 13.
Assistant Town Attorney Katie Garvin explained that the DEC permit would now allow the sailing club to restore the existing boathouse, “selectively” cut some vegetation in the area and to construct three boat racks on the property. The conservation board will weigh-in on whether the club should be allowed to selectively cut, as Garvin phrased it, “nuisance vegetation.”
“If we don’t get the permit, then I’d like to explore with the conservation board what their alternatives are, or what their issues would be with the plans [as they are now],” Garvin said.
Many community members living on Bay Avenue (which ends at Mecox Bay, where the sailing club is proposed to be built) and nearby Wheaton Way spoke-out at the town board meeting against the plan. Residents primarily cited issues of increased traffic, environmental concerns, fears of property devaluation and even privatization.
“For the life of me, I do not understand why our town and our bay would benefit from privatizing this public space,” said Water Mill resident Stormy Byorum Good. “I don’t understand what we would benefit from that we don’t have today.”
Similarly, Bay Avenue resident Ted Vittoria said “we have people walking down that street on a regular basis. We have workers who go with their trucks on their lunch hour just to look at the beauty of the bay. If the proposal is allowed, I think it’s going to affect these people to have clear viewing of this beautiful property for free.”
Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said the site plan, as proposed will not restrict beach access in any way. Supervisor Throne-Holst added: “the only thing it would do is allow for an entity to provide organized instruction there and the ability to store some boats and equipment there.”
In a statement issued by representatives for the homeowners, the Mecox Bay Civic Association further added that the details of the plan to develop the land and install a sailing school are still undefined.
However, Throne-Holst reiterated that the finer details of the site proposal will be addressed once the town board hears from the Conservation Board.