The East End’s sandy shores are a calling card, but caring for these natural jewels is often costly. The price of maintenance and protection is becoming increasingly expensive due to beach erosion, and no one understands these costs better than the homeowners of oceanfront proprieties in Bridgehampton.
On Thursday, July 22, members of the Southampton Town Board, deputy town attorney Kathleen Murray and chief environmental analyst Marty Shea, as well as a few Bridgehampton residents, met to discuss the next step in creating a Bridgehampton Beach Erosion Control District.
Above: A preliminary map of the 91 oceanfront properties included in the proposed Bridgehampton Beach Erosion Control District.
“Residents that live within [the Bridgehampton Beach Erosion Control District] would tax themselves to put erosion mitigation efforts in place,” explained town supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. “There is a sense of urgency [to hold a public hearing] as the weather patterns are becoming more dramatic.”
During a board meeting on Tuesday, July 27, the town board resolved to create a map, plan and report on the proposed erosion control district. The measure will cost the town $2,500, for which they will be reimbursed by the district once it is created.
Murray explained the map will define the boundaries of the district. She added that the homeowners generally decide which properties are included in the district. The plan and report will outline any proposed improvements or services, as well as the maximum amount to be spent within this district. The town must wait 30 days for comments until they can move forward on drafting the map, plan and report. After this comment period is closed, the board will have the ability to set a date for a public hearing.
Once an erosion district is established, an advisory committee is set-up to set the tone for the district’s projects and the special tax rate, explained Murray
“The town doesn’t have an active role in the amount they tax themselves,” Murray pointed out, adding that the funds are put in a separate account available to the district.
According to town officials, there are a number of benefits to establishing an erosion control district. Supervisor Throne-Holst noted the district would allow its advisory committee to apply for grants from the federal government in the aftermath of a storm. Marty Shea said Tiana Beach, which has an erosion control district, was reimbursed by the government for a beach nourishment and beach fencing project.
Shea reported that in Bridgehampton residents are strongly considering a plan to construct and engineer a dune, which can cost up to $1 million. Based on early estimates, of the 91 homes proposed to be in the district each will pay roughly $22,000 per year, though this is subject to vary based on individual assessment. These taxes will help create the district and conduct minimal projects, as well as build up a $1 million reserve in five years if there aren’t any major storms.
One of the first tasks of the district, added supervisor Throne-Holst, will be to commission an engineer’s report to provide a baseline for the current level of coastal erosion found in Bridgehampton.
The section of the hamlet under consideration for inclusion in the map extends from the oceanfront properties on Flying Point Road over the Mecox Inlet continuing to Dune Road and ending with all ocean side parcels on the western boundary of Bridgehampton. A few of these residences are in Water Mill, the town noted these properties will be included based on the permission of the homeowner.
Murray suggested the town send out a certified mailing to each of the proprieties tentatively marked in the district.