East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell announced some of the town’s goals for the coming year.
By Mara Certic
The year 2014 was a busy one for the East Hampton Town Board. It closed the scavenger waste facility, voted for a townwide ban on plastic bags, and accrued more Community Preservation Fund money than ever before. But according to Supervisor Larry Cantwell, 2015 has just as much in store.
The East Hampton Town Board held its 2015 organizational meeting immediately before its first work session of the year on Tuesday, January 6. Supervisor Cantwell discussed the many triumphs of the previous year and some of the goals for the next 12 months.
“I wanted to reflect for a moment on the past year and look forward to 2015, and first I want to express my appreciation to each of the board members,” Mr. Cantwell said in his opening remarks on Tuesday morning.
“Listening to the public, allowing for disagreement and maintaining courtesy and respect, we established civil discourse at town board meetings. Civility is the glue that holds us together as a democracy and as a community and it allows all of us to participate in a reasonable dialogue,” he said, adding that the board has done more to improve its transparency than previous administrations, and to improve the cooperation between departments.
Mr. Cantwell also announced some of the new initiatives the town hopes to fulfill in in the coming year.
The town plans to move toward adopting restrictions to tackle the noise problem at East Hampton Airport. Grant obligations from the Federal Aviation Administration expired on December 31, allowing the town to exert more control over the airport, officials say. The third and final stage of a noise analysis is currently under way, and the board plan to adopt restrictions in time for the summer season.
Plans for a new community center will also be discussed in the coming year, Mr. Cantwell said, noting the town plans to replace the Senior Center on Springs- Fireplace Road.
The town is planning to adopt amendments to increase penalties and fines for zoning and code violations, and will also look to restrict the creation of new nightclubs.
East Hampton will adopt a water quality protection program this year, in order to replace failing septic systems in harbor protection districts.
Although plans for a rental registration law fell flat in 2014, Mr. Cantwell said the town will strengthen the existing code in order to combat illegally occupied housing.
The board will work on several studies, including a comprehensive review of hamlet studies of Amagansett, Montauk, Wainscott and Springs as well as a townwide business needs study and a coastal resiliency plan.
The town board will continue to encourage elected officials to call for PSEG power lines to be buried. The town has plans to adopt improved setback requirements on highways, in order to prevent what the supervisor has a called a planning mistake, the Wainscott Home Goods store, which is still under construction.
Finally, the town will also consider the creation of the office of town manager, in order to improve the efficiency of the town government.
Supervisor Cantwell also announced new members for the various appointed boards within the town. Kathy Cunningham will be the only new face on the planning board, which Reed Jones will continue to chair, with Nancy Keeshan as his vice chairperson.
There will be no changes to the Zoning Board of Appeals this year, with John Whelen and Cathy Rogers both re-appointed in their roles as chair and vice chair of the board, respectively.
Edward Krug and Peter Michael Gumpel will join the Architectural Review Board. Mr. Krug will fill the unexpired term of Rossetti Perchick. Richard Myers was named the chairperson of the ARB and Patti Lieber the vice chair.
It was business as usual at Southampton’s organizational meeting later that day.
“This is the town board’s organization meeting for 2015, which is really our housekeeping meeting as we start off the year, and most of these are rather pro forma,” Supervisor Throne-Holst said before the board launched into a series of resolutions.
The real work, she added, will begin at next week’s work session on Tuesday, January 13.
The town board moved speedily, and passed 56 resolutions in 20 minutes, with just one inciting ample discussion.
The majority of the resolutions involved reappointing committees, setting fees and making other authorizations.
The membership of the Sustainable Southampton Green Advisory Committee remained much the same, with Dieter von Lehsten and Scott Carlin remaining co-chairs. Jenn Halsey Dupree, a 12th-generation Southampton resident, fruit farmer and co-owner of the Milk Pail, is the only new appointment to the board, replacing Dee Russell.
The majority of the discussion took place after Councilwoman Christine Scalera requested to amend a resolution adopting the annual salaries for elected officials. Ms. Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka both asked that their salaries be reduced from $62,000 to $60,000, and that the remaining $4,000 be put back into the town’s general fund.
Councilwoman Bridget Fleming requested the resolution be tabled in order to give her more time to “understand the implications” of their decision. Ms. Scalera said it was a matter of principle, rather than a political decision.
After much deliberation, discussion and some confusion, the board voted 3-2 to table the resolution until it meets next Tuesday, in order to give Councilwoman Fleming the time she requested.