Tag Archive | "jeff sander"

North Haven Adopts Budget with Little Fanfare

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Low budgets apparently equal low turnouts. Such was the case Tuesday in North Haven, where the village board received no comments when it held a hearing on a proposed $1.31 million budget that cuts spending by 4 percent.

Despite the reduction in spending, taxes will rise by 7 percent simply because the village, which has been dipping into its fund balance in recent years to hold taxes in check, has decided to put the brakes on that practice this year.

Last year, the village used nearly $370,000 from that balance to offset taxes. This year, it will use only $178,486.

“Over the years we have been using more and more fund balance due to lack of other revenues,” said Mayor Jeff Sander, who added that the board had decided to reduce the amount of reserve funds it was using by half. “The only other way to make up the difference is through taxes,” he said.

At a recent budget work session, Mr. Sander said the village, which is projecting a $690,000 fund balance at the end of the fiscal year, wants to maintain a fund balance of at least $500,000.

Even with the tax hike, the owner of a house valued at $1 million will pay about $56 in village taxes next year.

Mayor Sander said progress, while slow, is being made on the plan to place 4-Poster devices at various sites around the village in an effort to reduce tick-borne diseases. Four-Posters are feeding stations that require the deer to brush up against rollers that spread insecticide on their fur, killing ticks.

Installing the devices has been one part of the village’s strategy, along with the hiring of professional hunters, to cope with what officials say is a deer herd that is too large.

Mayor Sander said he has been inquiring of homeowner associations to see if any were willing to have 4-Posters in their developments and help underwrite the cost of the stations. While some have expressed a willingness to help out, the village is still awaiting a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Chris Miller, a landscaper who has been helping the mayor negotiate the permit process, said he expected it to take about two months for the DEC to issue a permit. He said the village would be better off for the full number of stations in its initial permit application, even if it did not install them all at once.

One station should be enough to service an area of 40 to 60 acres, Mr. Miller said. The DEC also restricts the stations from being within 100 yards of a house or area where there are children, although if the stations are fenced in, the DEC might allow exceptions, he said.

Mayor Sander said the village might try to rent 4-Poster stations from Shelter Island, which has used them in the past. He said the village has no place to store them if it did buy its own stations.

The board held off on accepting a bid to replant the entire Route 114 traffic circle, which Summerhill Landscaping had offered to do for $5,565. The landscaping around the circle was damaged last winter when it was run over by a vehicle during a storm. Board members agreed they wanted the damage repaired but balked at the suggestion that all the plants needed to be replaced and agreed to first review the matter before approving the expenditure.

The board also agreed to hold a public hearing on May 6 to add persicaria perfoliata, also known as mile-a-minute weed, to a list of noxious plants that homeowners can eradicate without special permits.

That elicited a comment from a member of the sparse audience, who asked if the board had ever considered banning bamboo. Although the answer was no, board members discussed the problems rapidly spreading bamboo can cause to neighboring lawns and gardens.

 

Mum’s the Word on Status of North Haven Deer Cull

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By Stephen J. Kotz

A veil of silence has fallen over North Haven, where village officials last month gave Mayor Jeffrey Sander the green light to negotiate a contract with a private firm to cull the deer herd.

Reached at home on Wednesday morning, Mr. Sander was decidedly tight-lipped.

“There is no status update other than what was discussed at the last meeting,” Mr. Sander said, apparently referring to a vote taken by the board on February 4 authorizing him to negotiate a contract with White Buffalo Inc., a Connecticut firm that specializes in controlling the white-tail deer population in suburban communities.

“I really can’t tell you anything other than that,” Mr. Sander said, when asked if he still expected to have the contract finalized in time to undertake the cull this spring.

Asked if he was not willing to talk because of concerns the village would face a lawsuit over its deer culling plans, Mr. Sander replied, “It’s not anything I’m going to talk about.”

Earlier this year, East Hampton town and village dropped out of a separate plan to cull their deer herds, one backed by the Long Island Farm Bureau that would bring in sharpshooters hired by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, when they were sued by animal rights activists.

Last week, a lawsuit filed againsts Southold Town, by the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, which consists of animal rights groups and hunters, was tossed out, allowing the deer cull to proceed in that town.

USDA sharpshooters have also reportedly been invited onto private property on South Fork residents as well.

This week, Wendy Chamberlin of the Wildlife Preservation Coalition, said her group was trying to obtain an injunction preventing the state Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing nuisance permits on Long Island until a scientific rationale is advanced for the deer cull.

“This isn’t being done scientifically. This is being done emotionally and anecdotally,” said Ms. Chamberlin, who said she would support hunting if other measures were inadequate to control the deer herd.

She said it was “shocking” for village officials to refuse to discuss the cull. “Officials who behave like this and do not attend to the opinions and desires of their constituents should resign,” she said.

Last month, Mr. Sander said he expected the village to spend about $15,000 this year to start the deer culling, and added that the process could take several years to complete. At that time he estimated that the village had about 200 to 250 deer and would like to reduce that number to approximately 100.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board handled other routine business and did not discuss the deer situation at all. Mr. Sander said he comfortable declining to discuss a public project that involves the spending of tax money, the threat of lawsuits and an invitation to allow hunters to shoot deer with shotguns.

“Nope,” he said, when asked if he had any additional comments.

 

Fee Increases Discussed in North Haven

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By Claire Walla


North Haven Village Board members are considering raising the fee associated with obtaining a certificate of occupancy in the village from $100 to $150.

At a village board meeting on Tuesday, June 5, Village Clerk Georgia Welch explained that the last time the board raised this fee was in 2007, at which point the cost had been $25.

“I thought if there’s anything that should be increased it’s this,” Welch said. “It generates a large number, and the mayor didn’t want to increase any of the building permit fees.”

Mayor Laura Nolan explained that a Certificate of Occupancy (COO) would be required anytime a house is bought, sold, re-mortgaged, or any time there’s a renovation. This would apply to any structure added to the property, even a shed, but would not be necessary for minor construction to existing property.

“If you have a small project, I don’t think there should be a dollar amount,” Trustee Jeff Sander said. He suggested using a sliding scale for COOs, so that large construction projects would be charged $150, but someone putting a shed in his backyard, for example, would pay significantly less.

“I think there’s a serious problem with what people have to pay for small projects,” he added.

Welch said the permitting process could not be applied on a sliding scale.

The board did not take any action on this proposal Tuesday night, but agreed to continue discussions at an upcoming work session.


In other news…


Noting the high volume of trucks continuing to park along Route 114 to suck water up from the water mains that run through North Haven, Mayor Laura Nolan said the village has composed a letter of complaint to the Suffolk County Water Authority.

“The trucks are not serving village residents,” Nolan said at a Village Board meeting Tuesday, June 5. “They’re loading up on water and delivering it elsewhere.”

Nolan continued to explain that she and other trustees have noticed these large water trucks filling up on Route 114 then taking the ferry to Shelter Island, where, she added, the water is not public.

“It’s all day long!” she exclaimed.

Trustee George Butts added that the crux of the issue is that it’s a traffic hazard.

And Village Clerk Georgia Welch complained that the trucks “can take up an entire lane.”

No Tax Increase for North Haven

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By Claire Walla


Despite a strong push by the village clerk to increase the tax rate for the coming year, North Haven Village Trustees have ultimately settled on a budget that keeps the tax rate right where it is.

For the Tentative 2012-2013 Budget, which is currently estimated to be $1,327,800, the tax rate will remain at 1.38 percent, making this the fifth year in a row taxes have been stable in the incorporated village.

“I think the tax rate at its current level is sufficient to cover our expenses,” said Trustee Jeff Sander at a budget work session on Tuesday. “The fund balance is healthy enough, and we never want to raise the tax rate if we don’t have to.”

Based on current estimates, Village Clerk Georgia Welch said the village’s fund balance will end up totaling about $600,000 to $700,000 by the end of the fiscal year in June. The final amount will depend on how many improvement projects — like replacing the roof at Village Hall — the village ventures into before then.

The proposed budget calls for using about $352,587 of the village’s current fund balance to cover next year’s expenses.

Though Welch said the village can certainly sustain these costs without raising taxes, she said it’s the future she’s worried about. The village is seeing slight increases in costs — its fire contract is expected to increase by about $9,000 for next year — but, additionally, Welch said the village’s assessments are not as grand as they had been in years past.

While this year’s assessment figure has not yet been finalized, Welch said the most recent number she was given came to $1,472,059,518. Though it’s a $5.7 million increase over last year, previous village assessments had risen by at least three times that amount. And the difference between the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 fiscal years was about $126 million.

Welch had proposed three budget scenarios outlining different tax increases so the village would not have to use any of its fund balance to cover expenses. However, Sander explained the village had budgeted very conservatively in the past — over-estimating certain expenses—in order to build-up a healthy fund balance. And he said there’s no danger in using some of those funds this year.

“I’ll acquiesce to whatever you want, but I don’t think it’s going to look good two years down the line,” Welch continued. “Mortgage tax and building permits are our main revenue sources, and they have decreased quite a bit in the last six years.”

Building permits have dropped from 117 last year to 80 this year.

“I’m just hoping that the assessments won’t change any more,” Welch concluded.

She said she’ll have the final figures from the town before the village’s public hearing on the budget, Tuesday, April 3.

Sander added, “And I hope we have a good year with building permits.”

North Haven To Discuss Potential For “Sign Ban”

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By Claire Walla

Should they stay or should they go?

For North Haven Village Trustees, signage has been a big topic of interest. Not only has it recently prompted trustees to entertain the notion of amending village code to more clearly delineate what does and does not constitute a sign, but the topic has also caused trustees to wonder whether the village could eliminate signage altogether.

At the next trustees’ meeting on Tuesday, March 6, village board members will meet with the village’s attorney, Anthony Tohill, to discuss the various options before them. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5 p.m.

The idea of barring signs was first brought up by Trustee Jeff Sander during the village’s last meeting in February.

“I don’t think signs add anything to the environment and the beauty of the community,” he said in an interview this week.

Village Clerk Georgia Welch said the village hears numerous complaints from people in the community regarding what they apparently perceive to be excessive signage. In 26 years on the board, she added that she’s heard this complaint year after year.

“We keep trying to wrestle with [zoning] regulations and [sign] size, that takes a lot of time and thought,” Sander continued. “And enforcing whatever you pass is very difficult. I just think the community would be better served if we eliminated them.”

Sander clarified that any proposed ban would not include necessary signs, like street names and home addresses. It would be aimed more at curbing the excess of real estate and construction advertisements.

According to Welch, the village has long struggled with these structures.

“They just get too heavy,” she said. “Especially when you have a large project on a county road — that’s highly visible. [Residents] think it looks ugly.”

She then added, “When you already have a construction project going on, you don’t need signs peppered up and down the dirt hills.”

The notion of amending the village’s sign code has been discussed in this sense for years, but it was spurred in earnest at the beginning of this year when a North Haven resident complained of a homemade wooden sign that had been displayed at the corner of Route 114 and Maunakea.

“That precipitated the entire discussion,” Welch explained.

The structure, which has since been taken town, was a block of wood into which the address number, “144 Ferry Road,” was carved with big block letters. Though some trustees remarked at the size of the sign, at issue was its location.

“There was a question of whether or not it was on village property,” Welch added.

As for how this type of sign will be viewed by the village, Sander said at this point that will largely be contingent on what Tohill will bring to the table. At the trustees’ meeting last month, Tohill said he could not recall any other municipalities that had issued an all-out ban on signs, but he’s bringing his findings to the meeting on Tuesday.

“At this point, I think it’s going to be a legal question,” Sander continued. Based on some correspondences he said he had with some lawyers, Sander said there may be some issues of “freedom of speech” at hand.

“[Tohill] will have information for us about whether we can really do this, or not,” he added.

North Haven Considers Doing Away With Signs

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North Haven adjusted

By Claire Walla


Typically, when a home is for sale, a house is under construction, or a front yard displays second-hand items for sale at a reasonable price, signs will be posted to communicate that.

But at a North Haven Village Board meeting last Tuesday, January 7, village trustees considered something different: what if they weren’t?

“I think we should do away with all signs,” said Trustee Jeff Sander. He clarified this proposed change by saying such an ordinance would exclude street signs (which are not under the village’s jurisdiction) and street addresses. “It just makes it so much simpler if you do away with [signs].”

The board has been considering amending its sign code since December, when a village resident complained about a handmade, wooden sign, which reads “144 Ferry Road,” that was displayed at a residence near the North Haven traffic circle, at the corner of Ferry Road and Maunakea Street. The sign, hand-carved and larger than the average real-estate sign, became the object of discussion for its size and its close proximity to the road.

Village Attorney Anthony Tohill helped to draft a newer version of this section of town code, which was considered at the board’s last meeting in January. However, after board members discussed a desire to impose stricter sign enforcement, Tohill will now go back to the drawing board and consider whether North Haven will be able to do away with signs altogether.

“I’m not even sure a total prohibition on signs is permitted [by law],” Tohill continued. “I’ll have look into it.”

Though members of the board expressed interest in banning all signs — including real estate signs — they also recognized that the reality is more nuanced than that. Sander pointed out that North Haven does include one commercial business, which he said would need to have signage; and Trustee Jim Smythe brought up the fact that the village bounds are marked by the village’s own signs.

“One of the problems with sign regulations is you want to keep them more simple than complicated, and say less than more,” Tohill explained. “Trying to cover too many bases causes more problems.”

Tohill explained he is familiar with sign restrictions currently in effect in both Southampton Village and Westhampton Beach, and he will use those regulations as a reference for drafting an updated version of North Haven’s sign code that takes the trustees’ concerns into consideration.


In other news…


At it’s next meeting on Tuesday, March 6, the North Haven Village Board will consider a local law to allow village trustees to override the state-imposed tax levy limit.

“Enactment of an override is virtually standard,” Village Attorney Anthony Tohill said. He went on to explain that the downturn in the U.S. economy has had a particularly strong impact on local municipalities. So, especially for a district like North Haven, which depends largely on housing tax revenues, overriding the tax levy cap might be imperative for preventing the village from dipping into its reserve funds.

While Village Clerk Georgia Welch noted that the village hasn’t raised the tax rate in the past six years, Mayor Laura Nolan said the village has recently seen an even bigger decline in revenues from the building department.

Nolan said that according to the village’s building department, which issues permits for new construction projects in the village, there wasn’t even one new structure reported last month.

“That was the lightest building inspector’s report since I’ve been at the village,” she said. “I don’t think we’re going to reach our anticipated income through the building department.”

While enacting this local law would allow the village to override the tax cap, Nolan added that this law would not mean that the village would necessarily do so. “We would just be able to do it, if necessary,” she said.

ZBA Application Fees Up $350 in North Haven Village

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By Claire Walla

Citing net losses of nearly 30 percent over the past few years, the North Haven Village Board of Trustees have voted unanimously to raise the fee for applications before the Zoning Board of Appeals. The cost will increase from $600 to $950 — effective immediately.

“We shouldn’t be losing money,” said Village Trustee Diane Skilbred, echoing the sentiments of her fellow board members at the trustees monthly meeting on Tuesday when the vote was taken.

Village Clerk Georgia Welch explained that while applicants have historically paid to have their applications heard by the board, in recent years the number of applications has risen dramatically. Whereas the board used to hear anywhere from zero to three applications a month, since 2008 the board has typically seen around five applications.

One year Welch said the board ultimately took in $3,000 in application fees, but ended up spending $5,000 in service fees; another year applications totaled $6,000, while service fees cost $9,000. These fees include payments for a stenographer and other legal services, “because it’s a quasi-judicial board,” Welch explained. “There are avenues where court action can be taken.”

The fee will apply to all new applications going forward. Welch said all applications that are currently in the process of being heard will be unaffected by the village’s new fee.

Unsatisfactory Signage, to Some

North Haven resident Carol Ahlers isn’t pleased. In reference to a wooden sign bearing block lettering that was recently erected at the corner of a residence on Ferry Road, she wrote, “you can’t miss it, it’s ugly, it’s illuminated at night and it’s huge.”

She continued, “Can we make this sign disappear?”

Members of the North Haven Village Board said they had already contacted Village Attorney Anthony Tohill about the matter.

“It’s awfully close to the road,” said Trustee Jeff Sander.

“We suspect it’s on village property,” added Welch.

In fact, the only signs permitted in the village are nameplate or professional signs (not to exceed two square feet); real estate signs (not to exceed four square feet); and subdivision signs (not to exceed 10 square feet), for which residents are also required to obtain a building permit.

Incumbents Keep Their Seats in North Haven Village

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Current North Haven Village Trustees Jeff Sander and Jim Smyth will maintain their seats on the village board after beating out newcomer Lawrence LaRose on Tuesday, June 21.

The village saw a marked turnout of voters this year with 191 total ballots cast (12 absentee). According to Mayor Laura Nolan, last year’s election only had 63 voters. In all, Sander and Smyth each received an equal 125 votes, while LaRose earned 73.

Dems Add Bender to Incumbent Mix

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By Claire Walla

On Monday, May 16 members of the Democratic Party of Southampton Town gathered to announce the names of the candidates it would endorse for the 2011-2012 election this November.

Current Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst (Ind.) will seek her second term, and current board member Bridget Fleming (Dem.) who was voted into office mid-election cycle last June, will seek her first full-term in office. Added to the mix will be newcomer Brad Bender (Ind.) who has his sights on the third seat that will open up on the board.

Nancy Graboski (Rep.) has announced she will retire from Southampton Town Council when her term is up in November. So, should Throne-Holst and Fleming maintain hold of their seats, and should Bender secure a seat in his first official foray into town politics, this would shift the dynamics of the now-republican-majority board.

Since being elected to a town board position in 2008, Throne-Holst has made the town’s finances her main focus. Then a board member, she initiated efforts to bring on a forensic audit, which ultimately revealed overspending within the town, which had resulted in multi-million dollar deficits.

Anna Throne-Holst

Throne-Holst, who was elected supervisor in 2009, has called herself a “natural consensus-builder” who is “committed to working transparently.”

Most significantly, she points to her effort to transform Planned Development District (PDD) legislation, a process she referred to in a press release as “easily the most significant planning initiative from a town-wide perspective.”

The supervisor also highlights her efforts to instigate a planning study for County Road 39, and says she remains committed to reevaluating the current system for evaluating tax assessments, a process that, she noted, could save tax payers money in the long run.

Overall, Throne-Holst highlights her “determination to put public service over politics,” which has “fueled her many accomplishments and won her public praise, despite being a minority leader on a politically divided town board.”

Bridget Fleming

A Noyac resident who owns a private law practice next to Provisions on Main Street in Sag Harbor, Fleming joined the Southampton Town Board in March of last year, during a special, mid-term election.

“I’m happy to say I feel as though I’ve gotten a lot done in a short time,” she said. “And I’m in the minority, I’m the only Democrat on the board.”

(Though Throne-Holst has garnered support from the Democratic Party, she is a registered Independent.)

Briefly listing what she’s accomplished in the past year, Fleming mentioned four main initiatives: adopting legislation to remove all damaged double utility poles from the town’s roadways, legislation to provide health insurance for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers, a project called Farm Fresh Foods (which would start-up a farmers market in Riverhead) and her efforts to create a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan for the town.

“What I would like to continue to focus on is three main priorities: economic opportunities for everyone, environmental stewardship, and continued efforts to achieve financial responsibility,” Fleming said.

Brad Bender
Though new to politics at the town-wide level, Brad Bender a resident of Northampton (an area near Riverhead) has been active on the local level for the past five years as a board member, vice president and now president of the Flanders/Riverside/Northampton Community Association.

“We’re kind of a drive-by community,” Bender said. In an effort to build the community’s aesthetic appeal, Bender headed two major beautification projects. With help from the county and the town, he replanted the flowerbeds and restored the flagpole at the traffic circle at the end of Route 24, and recently spearheaded an effort to post “Welcome To” signs throughout the community to orient unknown passersby and give the community a sense of place.

“My whole campaign is to continue to bring open and transparent government to the town of Southampton, in order to protect the small-town, rural feel” he said. “The big thing is to bring responsibility [to the town board].”

Noisy Neighbors and Abandoned Boats in North Haven

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After winning an uncontested election nearly two weeks ago, North Haven Village trustees Jim Smyth and Jeff Sander were sworn in during the monthly board meeting on Tuesday, July 7. The elections were relatively calm, but the village board faces a number of issues moving forward, including the adoption of a flood prevention law, handling of abandoned boats on Sunset Beach Road and noise complaints.
For the past few months, municipalities large and small have drafted new flood prevention laws in response to the updated flood maps produced by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and North Haven Village is very close to adopting a law to correspond with the new maps. On Tuesday, board members were presented with a 60-page draft of the proposed legislation, prepared by the village attorney Anthony Tohill.
Georgia Welch, the village clerk, informed the board that a copy of the draft was sent to both FEMA and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for New York State. FEMA responded to the village in a letter and tacitly stated that the draft law includes all of the new requirements, reported Welch. Although, North Haven is still waiting for a response from the DEC, Welch said Tohill was certain the board could move forward and adopt the law at the next meeting on Tuesday, August 4. Welch noted that the law must be adopted before the end of September to continue North Haven resident’s eligibility for federal flood insurance.
In order to tackle a long-standing problem of local residents abandoning their boats and seafaring apparatuses on the beach near Sunset Beach Road, the village board passed a local law on Tuesday giving them the power to dispose of unpermitted boats or boats left on public beaches after the summer season ends. The law was first introduced last month and was swiftly adopted after a public hearing elicited no comment from community members. Now that the law has been passed, however, the board struggled with how to implement it.
“We have to set up a program to handle these boats … Who will take them off the beach, where will we put them … what about implementation?” asked trustee James Morrissey.
Although the board failed to voice a solution to Morrissey’s first couple of questions, they did agree to post a sign at the public beach alerting the public to the new law. Sander said the sign could stipulate that sea craft storage on the beach is allowed only in the summer and by permit only.
As the board seemed to settle one village issue, another undesirable situation was brought to their attention. Both this summer and last, residents of Maunakea Street have complained about a renter on their block. The Maunakea residents claim the renter regularly hosts several dozen guests and holds parties in the wee hours of the evening. Village building inspector Al Daniels acted as intermediary between the property owner, Joe DeSane, his renter, and an adjacent neighbor, Frank Pintauro, during a meeting held on Friday, June 19.
“DeSane took responsibility for his tenant … [but] I think Mr. Pintauro tried to communicate to the tenant that this year he wasn’t going to just go talk to him [if there was a problem]. This year he will call the police,” reported Daniels.
The next weekend on Saturday, June 27, Pintauro lived up to his word and phoned the police some time after midnight to file a formal noise complaint. Village mayor Laura Nolan reported that she had spoken with an officer out of Southampton Town Police as to what possible repercussions could be brought against the tenant. Nolan said that if three or more neighbors signed an affidavit of a noise summons, then with each noise complaint the tenant could be slapped with a fine as high as $1,000 per incident. The members of the board and Daniels agreed to speak with Tohill about finding a legal means to calming the situation.
“I think we have to do some research,” added Daniels.