Sagaponack Seeking To Rein In Big Events

Posted on 21 August 2008

Special events applications once again took center stage at the Sagaponack Village board meeting on Monday. And at the end of the meeting, Mayor Don Louchheim gave a “preview of coming attractions” for next year.
“Once summer is over, time to lay the groundwork [for how we are going to handle special events in the future],” said the mayor.
He said they are going to look into enforcement, possibly changing laws specifically dealing with how late music can be played at parties, and whether parking restrictions should be amped up in the tiny village. He also wants to institute some sort of “end of summer” meeting where residents can come and voice their opinions about how they were affected by the high number of fundraisers and galas that take place in the high season months.
On Monday, the village trustees decided to approve a special event they denied only a week before. The event, The Hamptons Trunk Show, is expected to draw roughly 50 people and will be held today.
The applicant, Tracy Frost Rensky, attended Monday’s meeting and asked the board to reconsider her application. After slight grilling by the trustees, she was granted permission to hold the event.
“You have merchants in the area who have to pay taxes and need to make a living,” said trustee Lisa Duryea Thayer. “Basically you’re in a residential zone running a commercial venue and that bothers me as a general principal of things.”
Frost billed the event as a kid friendly afternoon featuring face painting and arts and crafts, where two retail clothes vendors will set up shop for the day. A small portion of the proceeds will go to a non-profit organization called Citibabes that provides day care and services for mothers in Manhattan. The majority of the proceeds however will go to the vendors and that seemed to be the sticking point.
“I just have real concerns of us approving continual trunk shows. I don’t think that’s why people live [in Sagaponack],” said Duryea Thayer
Trustee Lee Foster said why not just remove the vendors and have a fun afternoon for the kids.
“This places us in such a cruel position. I hope you realize that,” said Foster. “I find it difficult to approve.”
Trustee Joy Sieger acknowledged the fact that the village had yet to deny a special event application this summer, though many were approved with reservation. And she pointed out that it might not be the best idea to make an example out of Frost.
“We’re in a funny position this summer,” she said, “because we’re going to make it known [next summer] that activities like this need to be applied for well in advance.”
“They need not apply at all,” responded Louchheim.
“I don’t think we need to make her an example of our upsetness with the whole summer. It’s coming down to the wire,” added Sieger.
“I am adamantly opposed, but I think we have to go ahead and approve it,” said the mayor. “She is applying for something and we have not turned anybody down, we basically have had no criteria, no lines drawn, no deadline.”
The board voted three to one in favor of Frost’s application. Duryea Thayer was the lone dissenter.
In a related issue, Louchheim raised the issuance of tent permits for outdoor parties in the village. Currently the Southampton Town approves such permits but Louchheim believes that might need to change in the future.
“There are [events] going on we don’t know about,” said Louchheim. “These tent permits that the town issues and then send us a notice on the Friday before the weekend of the event – usually the tent permits are for large parties that nobody has applied for. I think we should consider taking over the tent permit process.”
Under that scenario, the mayor said if someone comes into the village hall for a tent permit for 200 people and they have not filed a special event application, they will simply be denied.
He also brought up something the board has been discussing all summer concerning the high number of special events. They hope to sit down and establish criteria for the events, such as whether or not they benefit local charities. He said, under such guidelines, a trunk show benefiting a city not-for-profit would “not be permitted at all.”
The board also discussed the issue of enforcement. They believe there are a number of events that have taken place in the village this summer that did not have permits. As far as enforcing those events, Louchheim said he would have to talk with the town’s ordinance inspectors.

Top Photo: Sagaponack Village trustees Lisa Duryea Thayer, Lee Foster and mayor Don Louchheim at Monday’s meeting.

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