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Southampton Town Council: It’s Bender & Glinka, Unofficially

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Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

By Kathryn G. Menu

While the results have yet to be made official by the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE), according to Southampton Town Democratic Party chairman Gordon Herr, it appears that Independence Party member Brad Bender and Republican Stan Glinka have held on to their Election Day leads and will join the Southampton Town Board in January.

On Wednesday morning, an official with Suffolk County BOE chairman Anita Katz’s office declined comment on the race stating official results would not be available until later this week.

However, Herr said the counting of 879 absentee ballots was completed last Wednesday and that Bender and Glinka have secured seats on the town board.

Bender and Glinka bested Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield and Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone in the town board race.

“I am so very thankful to my friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, everyone who was so generous and encouraging during the campaign,” said Glinka, the town board race’s top vote getter, in a statement on Wednesday. “But more importantly I am thankful to the voters of this great town, my hometown of Southampton, for endorsing me with their vote. I look forward to continuing to listen to all the people and to working on finding balanced solutions to many crucial issues at hand.”

“As I committed to be your full time representative, I am currently winding down my workload and finishing off projects that are in progress,” said Bender, who is in the construction field. “I am excited about this next chapter in my life as a public servant. Working for you the taxpayers to solve problems and protect our community.”

Southampton Town Council Race Still Too Close to Call

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By Tessa Raebeck

Over a week after the election, the Southampton Town Council race remains too close to call, with 879 absentee ballots left to be counted, officials said Wednesday morning.

According to the office of Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner Anita Katz, counting of the absentee ballots is underway and will not be finished until as late as the beginning of next week.

No matter who wins the two open seats, each of the four candidates would be joining the town board for the first time. Stan Glinka, of Hampton Bays, and Jeffrey Mansfield, of Bridgehampton, ran together on the Republican Party line, facing challengers Brad Bender, of Northport, and Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, of Southampton, who ran on the Democratic and Independence party lines.

According to the unofficial results released by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, with 42 of 42 districts reporting on election night last Tuesday, Glinka led the town council race with 5,857 votes, or 25.85 percent of tallied ballots. Bender is in second place, with 5,746 votes, or 25.36 percent.

If the absentee ballots do not significantly alter the results, Bender and Glinka will join the town board come January.

With 5,603 votes, or 24.73 percent, Mansfield trails Bender by just 143 votes. Behind Mansfield by 158 votes, Zappone earned 5,445 votes, or 24.03 percent.

In addition to the town council race, the official outcome of the race for five town trustee positions also hangs in the balance until absentee ballots are counted.

If the results hold, incumbents Bill Pell (8,933 votes), Eric Shultz (8,746 votes) and Ed Warner, Jr. (7,161 votes), members of the Independence, Democrat and Republican parties, respectively, will have secured the top three spots. The remaining two spots would go to Republicans Scott Horowitz (6,399 votes) and Ray Overton (5,436 votes).

Anna Throne-Holst Wins Southampton Town Supervisor Race; Town Council Still Too Close to Call

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Incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst watches the election results with, from left to right, sons Sebastian and Max and daughter Karess on November 5.

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

It appears Independence and Democratic Party candidate Anna Throne-Holst has secured a third term as Southampton Town Supervisor, beating Republican challenger Linda Kabot.

Alex Gregor also had a strong showing Tuesday night in the race to keep his position as Superintendent of Highways, coming out ahead of challenger David Betts.

Several races remain undecided, with 879 absentee ballots yet to be counted, town council candidate Brad Bender said Wednesday.

According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections unofficial results, with 42 of 42 districts reported, Throne-Holst secured 7,081 votes, or 58.63 percent of ballots cast. Kabot earned 4,985 votes, or 41.27 percent.

“This was a hard fought campaign and I think what I would like to say is we are now the poster child for running a clean, above board, above the issues [campaign], talking about what really matters to people and not going down in the mud,” Throne-Holst said in her acceptance speech late Tuesday night at the Democratic Party gathering at 230 Elm in Southampton. “I think people recognize that we genuinely have been there to help, we genuinely have been there to make a difference.”

Kabot conceded the race late Tuesday and said Wednesday that she was unsure whether she would seek public office again.

“I’m very proud of my grassroots campaign, we focused on the truth,” said Kabot. “We’re dealing with a well-funded incumbent who has manipulated the facts to her advantage and ultimately, the voters have made their choice, so we move forward.”

Newly reelected County Legislator Jay Schneiderman called the night “a historic moment in the Town of Southampton,” reminding the crowd that no non-Republican supervisor has had a majority on the town board since Thiele was supervisor in the early 1990s. If either Brad Bender or Frank Zappone is elected, Throne-Holst will have a Democratic majority on the board.

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In the highway superintendent contest, according to the unofficial results, as of Wednesday morning Gregor had secured 7,259 votes, or 61.87 percent of the vote, earning him another term while 4,470 votes were cast for David Betts, giving him 38.1 percent of the vote

In uncontested races, Sandy Schermeyer was elected town clerk and Deborah Kooperstein and Barbara Wilson were appointed to the two open town justice positions.

With the remaining districts and absentee ballots yet to be counted, the races for two seats on the town board and five trustee positions are too close to call.

As of Wednesday morning, the unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections places Republican Stan Glinka in the lead in the town council race with 5,857 votes, or 25.85 percent of votes cast. Bender, an Independence party member cross-endorsed by the Democratic party, is in second place with 5,746 votes, or 25.36 percent. Trailing Bender by just 143 votes, Republican Jeff Mansfield has so far earned 5,603 votes, or 24.73 percent of ballots cast. With 5,445 votes and 24.03 percent, Democrat Frank Zappone trails Mansfield by 158 votes.

“I think the indications are things are in a state of flux,” Zappone said Wednesday morning. “It appears as if there’s a significant number of uncounted votes — that could shift the standing significantly or not at all. It’s very difficult to tell at this point, so one has to be patient, sit back and see what evolves.”

Early Wednesday, Mansfield said he was busy driving around town picking up lawn signs and taking down billboards.

“It could be a lengthy process,” he said, “So we will respect the process and see what happens, but I think at this time it’s premature to say one way or another.”

Bender was likewise committed to removing campaign signs Wednesday morning.

“We’re going to let those people have their voice and let those ballots be looked at,” he said of the absentee ballots. “We’ll let the board of elections sort it out and we’ll celebrate when we have an actual result.”

Stan Glinka could not be reached for comment.

The race for Southampton Town Trustee, in which eight candidates vied for five available seats, also cannot be determined at this time. The candidates leading thus far are the three incumbents running; Bill Pell leads the pack with 8,933 votes, or 17.64 percent of votes cast. Eric Shultz has earned 8,746 votes, or 17.27 percent and Ed Warner, Jr. is in third place with 7,161 votes, or 14.14 percent.

Trailing the incumbents are: Scott Horowitz with 6,399 votes, or 12.63 percent; Raymond Overton with 5,436 votes or 10.73 percent; Howard Pickerell, Jr. with 5,163 votes or 10.19 percent; John Bouvier with 4,953 votes or 9.78 percent; and Bill Brauninger with 3,812 votes, or 7.52 percent.

All elected officials will take office on January 1, 2014.

Town Seeks Direction to Protect Waterways

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By Claire Walla

The town of Southampton has just embarked on a two-year process that will culminate in a comprehensive plan to protect all town-owned waterways heading into the future. And at this stage in the game, it wants to hear from you, the residents of Southampton Town.

Members of the advisory committee for the town’s Waterfront Protection Program (WPP) gathered at the community center in Bridgehampton last Thursday, October 27 to give the initial presentation on what the plan is expected to entail. (The same meeting was held the previous night in Hampton Bays for town residents west of the canal.) But, as committee member and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming told the roughly 50-person crowd, “right now we’re in the inventory and analysis phase.”

The WPP is similar in theory to a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), which earns seaside and oceanfront towns and villages in New York financial assistance for certain funding programs. Southampton Town is, in fact, preparing its WPP in accordance with the New York Department of State so that it meets all the requirements of an LWRP. The only reason the town has chosen a new acronym, according to Assistant Town Planning and Development Administrator Freda Eisenberg, is because LWRP traditionally refers to waterfront in industrialized urban areas. Southampton Town, she said, doesn’t quite fit that bill.

In addition to members of the 14-person advisory committee, last Thursday’s meeting was also attended by faculty members of the Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. UHI will work in concert with the Pace University Land Use Law Center to complete the first draft of the proposal for the town.

“Our expertise really lies in supplying scientific information,” said UHI member Jack Wiggin.

In general, the WPP will be designed to address several key issues that affect the waters of Southampton Town: flooding, erosion and sea level rise; public access; water-dependent uses and harbor management; water quality; fish, shellfish and wildlife habitats; land use ranging from housing to agriculture to open space; scenic, historic and cultural resources. But Wiggin added that before the UHI team can address such categories, it has to know what the pertinent issues might be. And for that, it needs public input.

All attendees of last week’s meeting — including Citizens Advisory Committee Chairs Fred Cammann and John Linder, as well as the Town Trustees and elected officials — split into four main groups, each facilitated by a member of UHI. They proceeded to discuss any personal or regional issues residents may have had. Issues ranged from chemical runoff and global warming to waterfront access.

“What’s happening here is that property owners adjacent to the ocean are trying to restrict access to those roads [that end at the water],” said Bridgehampton resident Jeffrey Vogel.

“The towns are hard-pressed to fight these things,” he added. “It’s a continuing problem and it’s happening all throughout the East End. Public access is being taken over by property owners through lawsuits.”

Vogel’s fellow Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield, head of the Mecox Sailing Association, which has entered into a license agreement with the town to create a sailing school where the now-defunct Mecox Yacht Club was once housed, echoed these sentiments.

“We’re currently being sued by the homeowners [on Bay Lane in Water Mill],” he stated.

UHI member Steve Bliven, who facilitated this discussion, said, “that’s just the kind of neighborhood versus facility-access I’m talking about. That’s the kind of issue that the plan is trying to address.”

With a WPP in place, he added, the town will be able to confirm its stance on waterfront access issues, allowing officials to refer to written documentation for each case in which waterfront access is threatened.

“That way the town doesn’t have to address these things on an ad-hoc basis,” Bliven continued. “The best way to fight that is to have a clear set of laws and policies.”

Another topic residents raised was the inordinate amount of parking tickets issued throughout the town in the summer months.

“They give tickets all over the place,” Vogel explained. “Including in my driveway!”

Bliven said the same issue had been addressed the previous night with residents in Hampton Bays. He suggested that perhaps “increased signage” would reduce the influx of falsely issued parking tickets.

Across the room, a group of residents discussed water quality with Wiggins and his UHI associate Kristin Uiterwyk. Northampton resident Brad Bender (who is also running for Southampton Town Council) expressed concern with soil runoff from farmlands. And several other residents were worried by the presence of nitrogen in groundwater often caused by septic systems.

While Wiggin said he was happy to hear about these issues from the residents’ perspectives, he added that “I don’t think this plan would necessarily be the primary way you would go about addressing the septic problem. What’s happening with the septic system is causing concern for us, but this plan won’t provide the solution.”

Similarly, just as toxic runoff has an affect on town waterways, so do waters from neighboring towns, an issue some residents thought to address. Wiggin said the WPP would only govern areas within Southampton Town, even though town waters are integrally connected to neighboring towns.

“That was one of our frustrations,” explained Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

But she said she and her administration will continue to try to work with neighboring districts so that the affects of the WPP will have more far-reaching impacts.

“That is a big part of this plan,” she added. “We want to do it on a broader level.”

Town Votes Yes To Mecox Sailing Association

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By Claire Walla

The decision was unanimous. All five members of the Southampton Town Board voted on Tuesday, October 25 to enter into a license agreement with the Mecox Sailing Association which proposes to open a sailing school at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill.

“I’m very pleased with the actions of the board last night,” explained Jeff Mansfield, a Bridgehampton resident who is spearheading the effort to turn the dilapidated site of the old Mecox Yacht Club into a new not-for-profit sailing association.

Members of the newly formed Mecox Sailing Association have waited two years for the Southampton Town Board to finally weigh-in on the issue. But, he continued, “At the same time it’s a bit bittersweet.”

The Mecox Sailing Association and the town of Southampton have been slapped with a lawsuit by a collection of Water Mill homeowners calling themselves the Mecox Bay Civic Association. The homeowners challenged the legality of the town’s wetlands permit, charging that the Mecox Sailing Association should not be allowed to clear away vegetation in a designated wetlands area. (Bram Weber, the lawyer representing the homeowners, could not be reached for comment.)

“It’s a frivolous lawsuit,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. She went on to explain that the lawsuit was brought on by a group of homeowners, most of whom live on Bay Lane, which dead-ends into Mecox Bay.

“This is just a blatant example of [a private group] that happens to have a lot of money behind it,” she added,

The proposed Mecox Sailing Association “is a very low-key plan to teach kids from all walks of life to sail,” she continued. “The fact that that kind of money gets thrown in[to this scenario], I think is in really poor taste.”

Members of the Mecox Bay Civic Association have been fighting the Mecox Sailing Association since its proposed plan for a sailing school was put before the board in 2010. In the past, residents have complained about expected issues with traffic, parking and the school’s presumed exclusivity.

Mansfield has rejected these claims.

Though the current lawsuit takes issue with the fact that the town approved the clearing of vegetation in a wetlands area, Throne-Holst added that she believes the town and the Mecox Sailing Association are in the right.

“It’s town land, and we got the clearing permit,” she added.

For Mansfield, the suit filed against the sailing association and the town has less to do with the sailing school itself, and more to do with what he believes stems from homeowners’ efforts to maintain privacy. In fact, it’s an issue he said has resonated across the East End in recent months.

“There’s been an epidemic recently of individuals trying to block beach access,” Mansfield declared.

He pointed to the recent legal fight over a stretch of beach in Nappeague and this summer’s clash in Noyac over beach parking.

“It’s scary for our little group [the Mecox Sailing Association] because it’s quite costly to fight these battles,” he added. “We’re just a couple of mothers and fathers defending this.”

“If we don’t come together as a community,” Mansfield added, “We’re going to lose this access.”

Now that the sailing association has finally entered into a license agreement with the town, Mansfield said members will be putting their efforts into raising money to fight the legal battles before them. He said the group has applied for 501c3 status, which he expects to be achieved by year’s end. This would make all donations to the Mecox Sailing Association fully tax deductible.

Mansfield explained rather lightheartedly that he and other sailing association members initially expected to have the whole operation up and running last summer. Suffice it to say, the process has been a bit more elongated than he had predicted. And with a lawsuit now in the picture, he said he has no idea how long it will take before the sailing association will actually be able to begin clearing the small patch of land on the bay — if, of course, it wins the lawsuit.

“We’re not about to abandon ship here,” Mansfield added. “We have only yet begun to fight.”

Mecox Sailing Association One Step Closer To Deal

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The proposed Mecox Sailing Association—which aims to set-up shop on Mecox Bay in Water Mill—has finally overcome environmental hurdles and now only faces backlash from a group of Water Mill residents as its application with the town remains on the table.

Nearly a year-and-a-half ago, the town of Southampton put the land where the former Mecox Yacht Club existed up for bid.  It has been considering an application from the Mecox Sailing Association ever since.

Assistant Town Attorney Katie Garvin, who is overseeing the case, told town board members at a regularly scheduled meeting last Tuesday, September 13 that over the course of several public hearings they have heard enough information from both sides of the issue to make a decision on the matter.  And she advised the town board to officially close the public hearing.

The application comes from a group of Bridgehampton and Water Mill residents who put an application together to refurbish the dilapidated building still sitting on Mecox Bay at the tail end of Bay Lane.  The goal is to revive the former yacht club as a not-for-profit sailing association, which would offer small-scale sailing classes for kids, as well as sailing opportunities for Southampton Town residents.

“The vision that we seek to implement is to recapture the simplicity and timeless quality of the former Mecox Yacht Club, that has existed in this exact location the better part of the last century,” said Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield on behalf of the Mecox Sailing Association.  “We hope to recapture this by creating a non-exclusionary, not-for-profit family-friendly sailing association, where local children can learn to sail and local families can enjoy sailing on Mecox Bay.”

The board had been waiting to make a decision on whether or not to enter into a license agreement with the applicant while the Southampton Town Conservation Board and the New York State Department of Environmental Conseravtion (DEC) surveyed the site.  And on September 9, Garvin said the conservation board officially issued the town a wetlands permit, allowing the Mecox Sailing Association to develop the waterside property for the organization’s intended use.

Throughout the application process, the Mecox Sailing Association has been attacked by a group calling itself the Mecox Bay Alliance.  Composed mostly of local homeowners, group members have primarily cited concerns with the potential for increased traffic on Bay Lane, the lack of parking at the end of the road and what they feel to be the exclusive nature of the association.

“The Mecox Sailing Association would not be a private club,” Mansfield said with an emphasis on “not.”  The lead representative for the association, Mansfield has maintained that the sailing school would be open to all members of Southampton Town, and the Mecox Sailing Association would be in a lease-agreement with the town.

According to group’s intended plan, the school would remain in operation from May 15 through September 15 and would hold classes two days a week for children aged nine years and older, with classes of no more than 10 children at a time.

Furthermore, he said, “The Mecox Sailing Associaiton is not an attempt by a select few to secure a place to keep their private boats.” All boats held on the property, he added, would be “house boats,” and would not be privately owned by individuals.

The sailing association, he continued, would be for the “promotion of sailing for those in our community who are not fortunate enough to live on or near the water, and all those in our community who are not fortunate enough to afford a boat, a trailer, expensive mooring fees or private yacht club dues.”

According to Garvin, the Mecox Bay Alliance has filed suit against the town, challenging the credibility of the wetlands permit that was issued earlier this month by the conservation board.  “This permit has been challenged in an order to show just cause,” she informed the board.

However, Garvin continued to say, “at least for this public hearing we have an idea of what the conservation board thinks of the project.”  The board ultimately approved of it on the condition that the town brings a botanist on-site with Chief Environmental Analyst Marty Shea as plans move forward.