Tag Archive | "east hampton town"

East Hampton Town Warns of Heavy Surf Conditions, Strong Rip Currents

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Virginia Briggs of East Hampton shakes her fist in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Virginia Briggs of East Hampton shakes her fist in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

Strong rip currents currently exist in the Atlantic Ocean along the East End’s beaches and heavy surf conditions are forecast for the 4th of July weekend, East Hampton Town Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Bruce A. Bates announced Wednesday, July 2.

In a message authorized by town supervisor Larry Cantwell, the town warned ocean bathers to swim only at lifeguard protected beaches.

Fuel Fee Hiked

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After presentations, public hearings and pleas, the East Hampton Town Board voted on Thursday, June 19, to double the fuel fee at the East Hampton Airport, effective July 1.

The fee has was at 15 cents per gallon in 1992 and has not been changed since. Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who sponsored the resolution, has said that research has shown that upping the fee to 30 cents is not unreasonable, and that many comparable airports have similar such fees.

Cindy Herbst of Sound Aircraft Services asked the board to reconsider. “If you pass the resolution put before you tonight that would impose a 100 percent increase in our fuel flow fee. Do so knowing that you are taking a giant and deliberate step toward debilitating and ultimately squeezing out a 24-year-old local business,” she said.

Ms. Herbst then proceeded to “put some faces and names to Sound Aircraft,” and introduced members of her staff to the board and the public.

“These are the people whose jobs are affected by the decision you’re making tonight,” she said.

Before seconding the resolution, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc spoke up to say  “This is really all about revenue, and trying to make the airport safe and continue the maintenance.”

Supervisor Larry Cantwell was the only “nay” vote on the board, saying that he believed that the increase to 30 cents was appropriate but, “I don’t think it should be done all at once,” he said. “I do think that’s somewhat unfair.”

East Hampton To Vote on Fuel Fee

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Peter Wadsworth gave a number-heavy presentation to the East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday, June 17, on behalf of the airport finance sub-committee.

After Cindy Herbst of Sound Aircraft Services again pleaded that the board reconsider increasing the fuel fee at East Hampton Airport from 15 to 30 cents, saying “it will surely close our business,” Mr. Wadsworth made the case in favor of the increase.

Mr. Wadsworth said that the airport fuel farm is “old,” “potentially hazardous” and in need of an upgrade that he estimated would cost over $600,000. “If you raised the fuel flowage fee today and ran it for five years that would be just about enough to pay for the upgrade of the fuel farm,” he said.

A resolution regarding the increase of the fuel flowage fee—which has not been changed since 1992—is on the agenda when the East Hampton Town Board’ meets today, June 19, at 6:30 p.m.

Wind Power in a Field Near You

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The wind turbine at Mahoney Farm on Long Lane in East Hampton. Photo by Virgina Briggs.

By Mara Certic

Two 120-foot wind turbines have been gently whirring over Long Lane in East Hampton for over two years.  Although initially met with resistance, they have now been embraced by the community and provide electricity for two farms.

Steve Mahoney knew he wanted to reduce his carbon footprint. After an East Hampton Town symposium on renewable energy several years ago, he spoke with experts about his 19-acre farm, which grows trees and shrubs to sell to nurseries. They suggested he put up a wind turbine.

Mr. Mahoney heeded their advice and worked closely with town employees who “liked the idea,” he said. In spite of this he was met with resistance at the first public hearing. “I was ambushed,” he said. “There were some people [there] who weren’t even in sightline or in anyway possibly inconvenienced. They had a lot of fears.”

After three public presentations, Mr. Mahoney’s wind turbine was finally approved and he contacted neighbor Anthony Iacono of Iacono’s chicken farm. “He said, ‘Listen, if you want to get it now’s the time,’” Mr. Iacono recalled.  “So I applied for it, no one objected to it, and it’s here now.”

Both farmers maintained that neither of them has received any complaints from neighbors or passersby since the installation of the turbines. Neighbors’ fears of noise pollution and decreased property values have since dissipated.

“There’s not much noise. If the wind is blowing heavy, you hear it hum a little, but you also hear the trees rustling.” Mr. Iacono said.

And the fear that it would decrease property value, Mr. Mahoney said, has “gone 180 degrees in the other direction.”

According to a New York Times article on May 26, a 197-unit luxury apartment building in Long Island City, Queens, has just installed three wind turbines to its roof in order to attract green-leaning buyers. The article said that there are plans in the works for at least a dozen more rooftop turbines in New York City.

Mr. Mahoney said that he loves his turbine, which provides 12,000 kilowatts a year: enough electricity for his entire farm—powering an electric well, the irrigation system, a barn, the office and electric vehicles they use on the property. He understands, he said, that not everyone necessarily would want to install one but that “people who want to rely on renewables for their home or their business should pursue it.”

Mr. Iacono, who received grants from both the Long Island Power Authority and the federal government, is pleased with his decision but said that without $53,000 in grants, plus other incentives that lowered his out-of-pocket costs, he “wouldn’t even consider it.” Mr. Iacono, who said he is now saving around $3,000 a year in electricity, expects the turbine to have paid itself off in seven to eight years. Without incentives, the windmill would have cost about $90,000, he said.

Both men have had technical issues with their machines. The chicken farm’s broke following an electrical storm. “Lightning is one of those things they don’t like,” Mr. Iacono said. It was out of commission for nine months, but Mr. Iacono believes that the reason it took so long was in part due to employee reshuffling after a falling-out at the Oklahoma-based manufacturer. The warranty covered all repairs.

Mr. Mahoney’s was down for less than two months and he was told that the problem was three $2 parts. “The manufacturer was just really responsive,” he said. “And he gave me a check for my lost production.”

Flights, Complaints Up at East Hampton Airport

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By Mara Certic

Over half of the flights into and out of East Hampton Airport over the Memorial Day Weekend—a weekend that saw a 20 percent increase in traffic over last year—were the subject of noise complaints, airport manager Jim Brundige told the East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday.

About 25 percent of all complaints came from eastern Sag Harbor Village, although senior airport attendant Peter Boody reported that “somewhere around 80 percent” of those complaints were from one particular resident of the village who “has a problem with aircraft noise” and makes numerous calls a day.

From May 22 through May 26, there were a total of 872 flights. The airport tracks flights through a combination of aircraft tracking, cameras and logs filled out by airport personnel. According to Mr. Brundige, there are limitations to the accuracy of the process, but that the best estimate shows that 40 percent of the activity over the holiday weekend was by helicopters.

The airport manager said there was a 20 percent increase in operations over Memorial Day 2013, and that increase resulted in airport managers and Eastern Regional Helicopter Council executive director Jeff Smith agreeing at a May 30 meeting to alter the southern helicopter approach to the airport because the existing rules “were not working.”

Prior to the Memorial Day weekend, helicopters would begin their descent over Georgica Pond and would do a “circling, descending route” over the airport before landing, Mr. Brundige said. The route has now been tweaked to make it safer by having helicopters continue eastbound, past Georgica Pond, before they start their descent from a height of 2,000 feet as all other air traffic does.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell expressed concern about the route shift. “The downside to this is more complaints,” he said. “I look at the [area] you suggested and I see more houses.”

That was a consideration of last week’s meeting, Mr. Brundige said, but those participating decided it was the best route for safety.

Mr. Cantwell reiterated his worries and said that “No matter how you look at it, there’s substantially more traffic over this period of time [than last year.] Substantially more complaints lead me to the conclusion that we need limits—we really need limits here.”

The airport manager attributed the increase in air traffic this year to better weather, and added, “we have the same helicopters coming and going as we have the past few years. We haven’t changed our clientele.”

Mr. Brundige also presented two resolutions for the town board to consider when it meets on Thursday, June 5.

The first is a proposal to increase landing fees by 10 percent in order to provide adequate revenue to maintain the airport, Mr. Brundige said. This would be effective immediately and would result in a $100,000 increase in revenue for the town for the remainder of this year. According to Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, landing fees provided approximately $1.3 million for the town last year, and are the airport’s “biggest source of revenue,” she said.

The second proposal is to increase the fuel charge from 15 to 30 cents a gallon. Cindy Herbst of Sound Aircraft Services, which operates at East Hampton Town Airport, expressed concern over the potential change. “There has to be some kind of justification for not raising it 5 cents but doubling it,” she said. “We have to pass that along to our customers and I’m not sure that we can do that.”

Some airports charge as much as 32 cents a gallon, she said, but that they provide operators better access.

The town’s budget and finance committee proposed the changes, said Mr. Brundige. “They did their homework; it’s really what the going rate is among other airports. This is their recommendation as a stop-gap for 2014.”

In 2002, when the 15-cent per gallon fee was adopted, the retail price for fuel was $2.52 per gallon. It now costs about $7, he said.

“I know it’s been a long time since the fee was raised,” Ms. Herbst told the board.  “I just don’t think that a 100-percent raise is justifiable. Please take that into consideration.”

The board suggested a sit-down with Ms. Herbst and Mr. Brundige before the resolution is considered during Thursday’s meeting.

East Hampton Town Revises Formula Business Legislation

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By Mara Certic

Members of the East Hampton Town Board agreed to bring a new draft of legislation restricting formula businesses in historic districts to public hearing during a Tuesday morning work session.

In response to a public hearing in April and letters received by the town board, changes have been made to the proposed legislation which simplifies the structure of the law, according to town Planning Director Marguerite Wolffsohn.

The law would aim to prohibit any establishment that falls under the definition of “formula business” in historic districts or within half a mile of any historic building.

In the previously proposed legislation, a formula business was described as any store or restaurant that was part of a chain of 10 or more, under common ownership or a franchise. In Tuesday’s work session, however, Ms. Wolffsohn explained that the law now will define a formula business as “one of 15 or more other businesses or establishments within the United States” meaning a corporation would have to have over a dozen other stores or restaurants of the same name to fall under the formula business definition.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who is sponsoring the law, explained Tuesday afternoon that the change was made at the request of several people who believe that 10 stores worldwide was too restrictive and that it was too small a number.

The law also calls for new standards and safeguards before a special permit can be issued for a formula store in the neighborhood business and central business zones.

One of these standards insists that formula businesses be compatible with the existing and surrounding uses and be designed and operated in an unobtrusive manner to preserve the community’s unique historic character.

“It means it should blend in with the character of the community rather than a standard formula for all of the stores throughout the country. Except for of course what they’re selling. The business and its attributes should be those of East Hampton, rather than what’s around the country,” Ms. Wolffsohn explained.

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc suggested that the board consider allowing special permits for formula businesses in waterfront zones, where the law previously prohibited them. “I wonder if the board might consider that that would also be allowed by special permit seeing as those types of uses already occur within a waterfront zone.” The other members of the town board agreed with the concept.

“Where we stand today, if you’re building a new building or if you’re making site improvements, there’s a site-plan review process but there’s no special permit requirement for formula businesses in today’s law,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said.

He added that he was unsure how much support the law would have when presented for a public hearing, but added that the standards would raise the bar of review and would employ a higher level of scrutiny, which he said “is the right thing to do.”

“I’m fairly comfortable with what’s been outlined here, and I think we should proceed to public hearing,” said Supervisor Cantwell.

Mr. Van Scoyoc said that the most important part of this legislation is that “it would require a special permit, which requires a public hearing, and the public has the right to weigh in on any proposal.”

A public hearing was suggested for Thursday, July 3, but may be postponed after Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez expressed concern that business owners might be too busy before the holiday weekend to voice their opinions on the newly amended law.

UPDATE: Police Investigating Drowning Death of Brooklyn Child in East Hampton Pool

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By Tessa Raebeck

UPDATE: The East Hampton Town Police Department, in conjunction with the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office, is investigating the drowning of an 11-year-old child from Brooklyn that occurred at a home on Route 114 in East Hampton last weekend.

According to police, at approximately 5:08 p.m. on Sunday, June 1, police responded to a 911 call about an 11-year-old boy, since identified as Derek B. Smith of Brooklyn, who was unresponsive after being pulled from the bottom of a pool.

East Hampton Police and ambulance personnel responded to the scene and took the boy to Southampton Hospital. According to police, despite efforts to revive Derek, he was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital that evening. Police released his name Tuesday after notifying members of his family.

In a press release issued Sunday night, police said the death does not appear to be suspicious.

East Hampton Town Police Detective Sergeant Greg Schaefer said Wednesday that the child, who lived in Brooklyn with his grandmother, was out in East Hampton with a friend of the family who has ties to the residence they were at and was supervising him.

According to Detective Sgt. Schaefer, the two were alone in the house when Derek, who was fully dressed, went outside. Shortly afterward, his caregiver went outside to see where he was Derek was. She was unable to find him at first, and then discovered him at the bottom of the pool.

She brought him to the surface, called 911 and began CPR. When emergency workers and police arrived, they took over the effort to revive the child but were unable to. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“It was a tragic and difficult week in our community,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said at a town board meeting on Tuesday morning, also referring to the death on May 26 of Tyler Valcich, a 20-year-old Montauk native.

“I just want to say how important pool safety is,” Supervisor Cantwell continued. “There are several thousand people every year who drown in a pool, it happens so fast. You almost can’t imagine how quickly things deteriorate.”

“Let’s please all be careful, it’s just a moment,” he added. “There’s safety requirements for all of us who own pools … if you are a pool owner, please be careful. Please call the town board about those safety requirements.”

Anyone with information regarding the incident is urged to contact the East Hampton Town Police Department at 537-7575.

East Hampton Residents Sue PSEG LI and LIPA

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New power lines on Cedar Street in East Hampton. Photo by Mara Certic

 

By Mara Certic

Citing the presence of potentially dangerous toxins in electric utility lines being erected by PSEG Long Island in East Hampton Town, a group of residents has filed suit against the company and the Long Island Power Authority in New York State Supreme Court.

The Long Island Bureau For Responsible Energy (LIBFRE) filed the suit on behalf of a group of residents who live near the poles. It claims the overhead transmission lines will negatively affect wells and drinking water for the 300-plus people they represent.

A press release issued on Thursday by the group stated that an environmental review of the project by LIPA had “failed to disclose the adverse cumulative impact of the project on health, property values and alternatives, and intentionally misrepresented them.”

The group is being represented by former special counsel to Suffolk County, Irving Like, and Professor Leon Friedman who once represented the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who had been wrongly convicted of murder.

The suit claims that a banned chemical in 26 countries, pentachlorophenol (PCP), has been placed on wooden utility poles and has been leaching dangerous toxins into the soil in the surrounding area and is also emitting toxic gases into the air.

According to Rebecca Singer, co-chair of LIBFRE, the level of PCP in East Hampton soil was recently tested and was found to have more than 312 times the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s acceptable level.

PCP has been used as a wood preservative since 1936. It has also been used as an insecticide, an herbicide, a sealant, and a molluskicide, among others. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants showed that exposure to PCP can interfere with endocrine processes in humans and has been found to stunt brain development, impair memory and even cause infertility in women, the suit states.

A hydrogeologist’s report says that the PCP will contaminate East Hampton’s groundwater, eventually traveling into Hook, Georgica and Town Ponds.

The second concern in the suit is that the high voltage power lines that are being added to the existing lines might result in electromagnetic fields dangerously close to houses on narrow streets.

The suit also charges that the new utility poles are damaging trees and vegetation along the 6.2-mile route along which they have been installed. According to Thursday’s press release, experts have already noted that there has been damage done to the landscape.

The final cause of action is the suit is the claim that the high levels of PCPs in the soil and water have drastically devalued the property for all of the houses in close proximity to the new poles.

The complaint demands that the utility pole project be cancelled and restitution in excess of $30 million to cover attorneys’ fees, removal costs and emotional distress of the residents involved.

Springs Man Assaulted with Machete in East Hampton

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Jose Javier Garces Hernandez, 24, of Springs, is charged with assault in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree for stabbing another East Hampton man with a machete Monday, May 26. Photo courtesy East Hampton Town Police Department.

Jose Javier Garces Hernandez, 24, of Springs, is charged with assault in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree for assaulting another East Hampton man with a machete Monday, May 26. Photo courtesy East Hampton Town Police Department.

By Tessa Raebeck

On May 26, East Hampton Town Police responded to a report of two men fighting in the roadway on Clinton Street in Springs. Upon arrival, police said they found Jose Maria Jimenez, 26, of Clinton Street had been assaulted with a machete and had suffered several serious wounds to his torso.

Mr. Jimenez was transported to Southampton Hospital for treatment before being transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he underwent surgery.

According to police, the second man involved in the fight, Jose Javier Garces Hernandez, 24, of Rutland Drive, fled the scene prior to police arrival and was later located at a residence on Springs Fireplace Road.

Mr. Garces Hernandez was treated for injuries by East Hampton Ambulance and subsequently airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment. He has been charged with assault in the second degree, a felony, and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Garces Hernandez was arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Wednesday.

Police ask that anyone with information contact the East Hampton Town Police Department at (631) 537-7575. All calls will be kept confidential.

Elected Officials Ask FAA to Make Helicopter Route Rules Permanent

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By Stephen J. Kotz

United States Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representative Tim Bishop this week urged the Federal Aviation Administration to renew a rule, set to expire in August, that requires that most helicopters traveling to and from the East End follow an over-the-water route along the North Shore of Long Island.

The federal lawmakers have also asked the FAA to require that helicopters fly east of Orient Point when flying to East Hampton Airport.

“It is imperative that the FAA continues to require helicopter pilots to utilize a route that travels over water rather than residential communities,” said Mr. Bishop in a joint release with Senator Schumer.

“Over the past several years, we, as East End elected officials have banded together to fight for over-the-water helicopter routes to ensure that the least number of homeowners are negatively affected by summertime air traffic and noise,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., in his own press release.

But Jeff Smith, the executive director of the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council, an industry group, said lawmakers’ enthusiasm for the route may be ill-advised.

He said that relations between East Hampton Town and the pilots group, have been improving, with both sides working together to reduce noise complaints.

“The reason there has been improvement” and a reduction in noise complaints “is because we have the ability to work with the town and [airport manager] Jim Brundige to massage the routes,” he said. “If the FAA says you are going to fly this line, we can’t do that.”

Mr. Smith said he feared the new rule would result in more complaints because it would require that pilots pass over Springs and the Village of East Hampton on their way into and out of East Hampton Airport.

“The FAA has to show data that its rules will result in an improved situation, but we have data that shows just the opposite,” he said.