Tag Archive | "laura nolan"

Laura Nolan Resigns as North Haven Mayor as Village Elections Come into Focus

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Laura Nolan has resigned as mayor of North Haven Village, according to an announcement made by deputy mayor Jim Smyth during a village board meeting on Tuesday evening.

Smyth said Nolan, 55, resigned from the position citing personal reasons, effective immediately.

Nolan, who was elected mayor in 2002 and has been elected for five terms since, did not return calls for comment.

Nolan has one year left in her two-year term as village mayor. According to village clerk Georgia Welch, it is too late to add a mayoral race on the ballot for the June 18 village elections.

On Tuesday, Smyth — who will serve as acting mayor until the new fiscal year starts in July — said he would not seek another term on the village board. This year there are two village board seats up for election.

Smyth, 63, has served as a member of that board since 2002, when he was appointed to fill the remainder of Nolan’s term after she was elected mayor. Prior to that he was a member of the North Haven planning board from 1994 to 2002.

“I have been doing this for 25 years, my wife retired at the first of the year and we have some things we want to do,” said Smyth on Tuesday.

Smyth, who has owned The Corner Bar in Sag Harbor for 35 years, said Nolan’s decision to resign from her post has not altered his decision, although he plans to remain an active member of community.

According to Welch, architect Jim Laspesa — chairman of the North Haven planning board — has expressed an interest in running although no nominating petitions had been turned in as of press time.

On Tuesday, incumbent trustee Jeff Sander, 71, a former business executive who has served on the board since 2007 said he would “probably” seek another term with the board.

Rather than hold a special election for mayor, Sander said the village board would likely appoint someone to fill the remainder of Nolan’s term as mayor.

In both North Haven and Sag Harbor Village, nominating petitions to seek village office are due next Tuesday, May 14.

In Sag Harbor Village, four candidates have announced they will seek the mayor’s seat in this June’s election. Incumbent mayor Brian Gilbride, harbor committee chairman Bruce Tait, former mayor Pierce Hance and former Sag Harbor village clerk Sandra Schroeder have all announced their intention to run.

In the trustees race, incumbent Ed Gregory has announced he will seek another term. Former mayor and trustee Ed Deyermond has also thrown his hat into the trustees race, as has former board member Bruce Stafford and La Superica owner Ken O’Donnell.

Incumbents Run Unopposed in North Haven

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By Claire Walla

This Tuesday, North Haven Village will see an uncontested election, with trustees George Butts and Diane Skilbred, as well as Mayor Laura Nolan all up for reelection.

Nolan, who will be running for her sixth term in office, includes in her list of achievements: financial stewardship (maintaining the same tax rate for the last five years); land preservation (preserving 26 acres of open space); village management (upgrading to a digital filing system); and traffic-calming measures supported by the roundabout where Ferry Road meets County Road 60.

Nolan added the most important issues facing the village in the coming years will include the effects of the two-percent tax cap, as well as “the continued pressures of development” and “preserving the beauty of our coastal waters.”

After moving to North Haven in the early ‘90s, Nolan first ran for village board in 1997.

“I originally got involved because of the deer issue,” Nolan said.

Back then, Nolan said the deer population in North Haven alone registered over 500. Together with her fellow village board members, Nolan said she helped put measures in place to reduce the deer population.

“We have safely reduced the deer herd,” she wrote in an email, “and continue to maintain a very small deer population.”

After having served on the North Haven Village Board since 2010, Trustee Diane Skilbred will be running for her second term in office.

Of the issues the village board has faced in the time she’s been in office, she said the most significant have been the law allowing residents to raise chickens and the cell phone tower first proposed in December of 2010.

“I was the only one who was opposed to it,” she said of the tower. “I didn’t think it was appropriate for North Haven.” (The cell tower proposal was ultimately shot down.)

Much of Skilbred’s decision making has revolved around the idea of maintaining the “rural character” of the village, which is why she said she strongly supported the chicken law, which was ultimately adopted by the board.

While relatively new to the village board, Skilbred was previously a member of the Architectural Review Board (ARB), which she served on for 16 years.

The main initiative Skilbred said she will try to spearhead during her next term in office is installing solar panels on the roof of Village Hall.

After four years as a North Haven Village Trustee, George Butts will be running for his third term in office.

Butts was born and raised in Sag Harbor and moved to North Haven in the ‘80s. A member of the Volunteer Fire Department and the Sag Harbor Dive Team, Butts had been Chairman of the North Haven Zoning Board of Appeals for 18 years before joining the village board.

Like Skilbred, of the most important issues the board has faced in the last four years Butts named the newly adopted chicken law and the debate over the proposed cell phone tower. But, in general, Butts said the village has remained relatively uncontroversial.

“It’s a good thing what we’re doing,” he said, explaining that the board works as a unit, for the most part, and largely avoids much bickering when it comes to deciding issues.

“I hope we’ll continue to take care of everything and make [the village] run as smoothly as it has been running,” he said.

“We’re an unusual board,” Mayor Nolan added.  “We work as a team.”

The North Haven Village election will take place this Tuesday, June 19 at Village Hall.

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.”

Tax Rate Stays the Same in North Haven

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By Claire Walla

Though North Haven Village had entertained the thought of imposing a minimal tax increase this year, that plan was promptly abandoned.

At a village board meeting last Tuesday, April 3, the board voted unanimously to keep the tax rate the same as it was last year — in fact, board members pointed out, they kept it the same as it’s been for the past five years.

According to figures presented by Village Clerk Georgia Welch, the village is looking at a budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year of $1,326,330. This represents an overall increase over this year’s operating budget of 1.38 percent.

“We’ve been a very responsible board and kept the tax rate the same,” said Mayor Laura Nolan, emphasizing the board voted not to increase taxes despite rising costs and revenues that are down.

While the village’s fire contract is expected to go up by about $9,000 for next year, village assessments have not increased by as much as they had in years past. At $1.47 billion, assessment numbers for the 2012-2013 fiscal year are up about $5.6 million over this year’s value. From 2009 to 2010, however, assessment values increased by about $126 million.

In addition, building permits are down, having fallen from 117 last year to 80 this year. Besides taxes, this is one of the village’s only sources of direct revenue.

To balance the books, the village will take $351,197 from this year’s fund balance — which is expected to total about $700,000 at year end — and apply it to next year’s budget.

While the village had already voted to pierce the two-percent tax levy cap, which was adopted by the state last year and imposed for the first time during the 2012-2013 budget process, it was unnecessary. The village’s tax levy came out just under the two-percent limit.

North Haven Village to Workshop Budget Next Wednesday

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The North Haven Village Board announced on Tuesday night that it will begin the first of its budget work sessions on Wednesday, March 14 at 3 p.m. According to village clerk, Georgia Welch, the tentative budget — subject to revision — is for $1,327,800 for an overall budget increase of 1.38 percent. Based on the state’s formula for calculating how much more it can gather through its property tax levy, the village could raise its spending by just over four-percent, said Welch on Tuesday night.

In addition to its budget work session next Wednesday, the board will also meet on Thursday, March 20 and Thursday, March 29, also at 3 p.m., to discuss the 2012-2013 budget. It is expected to adopt its tentative budget on April 3 during its regular monthly meeting at 5 p.m.

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.

North Haven May Go Solar

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By Claire Walla

This year, the Village of North Haven budgeted for roof repairs at its village hall. But, based on discussions at a board meeting on Tuesday, the village aims to do more than replace its wooden shingles.

The village board heard a presentation by trustee Diane Skilbred, who — along with village building inspector Al Daniels and resident Jamie Davis — is part of a committee formed to investigate the prospect of outfitting village hall with solar panels.

“We’re aiming to get about 80 to 100 percent of our electric bill” taken care of by the solar panels, Skilbred explained.

This estimate is based on informational meetings the committee had set-up with three local companies: Green Logic, Sun-Nation and NRG (which stands for Nationwide Renewables Group).

Skilbred said the village can expect to pay somewhere between $70,000 and $90,000 to install solar panels. However, she added that the entire cost of the project is impossible to pinpoint now. The price tag is expected to be offset by rebates issued retroactively to solar energy companies through the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). The rebate rate is currently set at 2.75 Kilowatts an hour, which means that, in the end, North Haven Village will pay roughly $35,000 for the project.

However, Village Clerk Georgia Welch emphasized that this dollar amount is only based on LIPA’s current rate. It could very well change over time, especially given the time frame for this particular project. Welch said it would probably take about four months to get a resolution passed to begin construction on solar panels. Right now, the village is in a very preliminary stage of the process.

Skilbred spoke to the benefits of going solar by adding that the panels would be good for up to 25 years, and that the village should expect to see a return on its investment after 11 years.

Plus, she added, “it sets a good example [for residents].”

The village board voted on Tuesday in favor of spending up to $5,000 to pay for project proposals from each company. Welch said she expected the bids to come back in January.

In other news…

Mayor Laura Nolan reported that the village ended up paying roughly $30,000 for storm clean-up efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene. The village hired two extra part-time workers, Mark Daniels and Joseph Labrozzi, who ended up hauling garbage away at $75 a trip; they made about 42 trips in total. Village Clerk Georgia Welch said the village is still waiting to hear back from FEMA to see whether some of that cost will be reimbursed.

Unlike the rest of Southampton Town, which will see a limited leaf pick-up program this year, North Haven Village Trustees voted to implement their program this year just as last year. Pick up will commence on two dates this fall: November 14 and December 5.

The village also approved the hire of Laura Hildreth, who will continue efforts to help the village move information from paper to electronic documents.

“This is the third and final phase [of the project],” Welch explained, adding that is expected to be completed by this summer, just as she had predicted. Hildreth will be paid $35 an hour for six hours a day, three days a week from October 3, 2011 through May 1, 2012.

Abandon a Road, May Help Slow Traffic

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By Claire Walla

Last Tuesday, September 6, North Haven Village Trustees held a public hearing on a topic not typically discussed in the village: “abandonment.”

Less dramatic than it sounds, the meeting was merely a procedural first step in the village’s efforts to rebuild a fallen fence. Still, for some living at the end of Third Street and Coves End Road, the issue is of great importance: the loss of that fence was almost like opening the floodgates.

Last winter, when an active storm season caused the fence on Third Street to disappear, it created heightened concern for many living along Cove Road and Coves End Lane who complained of an increased flow of cars in their neighborhood. Though North Haven Village officials put cones in the area to prevent cars on Third Street from accessing Coves End Lane, it didn’t deter some motorists.

“I know what happens when the cones are gone,” said Coves End Lane resident Ibar Albinson. “The cars were zipping through there and they weren’t stopping.”

Albinson said it was especially concerning for him because he often walked his dog in the neighborhood.

“[Some drivers] have a tendency to be fast anywhere they can make a short-cut into town,” he added.

According to residents, several drivers — some residents have even reported delivery trucks among them — have used the L-shaped route along Third Street and Coves End Lane to get from Long Beach to Route 114 (or vice versa) without having to drive through the traffic circle in North Haven Village. The village had erected a fence at the end of Third Street decades ago, which effectively prevented motorists from continuing onto Coves End Land, which spits them out right onto Route 114. In order to erect a fence once more, the village must first officially “abandon” that section of Third Street.

As a result of the fallen fence, “a very quiet neighborhood changed dramatically,” said North Haven Village Mayor Laura Nolan. “We recently erected large, orange cones to abate the traffic, but residents are very desirous of [putting up a new fence].”

Ann DeStefanos, a resident on Short Beach Road, also spoke at the public hearing.

“I’ve been a resident there all my life, and the road has been closed at least 35 years,” she said.

DeStefanos continued to cite issues with the orange cones, complaining that some cars have either damaged the cones by running into them, or else motorists have moved them out of position themselves.

“I’ve moved them back myself, but people have dented them with heavy vehicles,” she added. “I really think [the street] needs to get closed permanently. We really need to do something [about the traffic]. They really whip through there.”

Without any further comments from the crowd and with no noted correspondence on the matter, the board voted to close the public hearing. And during their regularly scheduled board meeting following the hearing, the trustees voted to pass a resolution giving the village authority to “abandon” a section of Third Street and close-it-off with a fence.

According to Mayor Nolan, the village’s next step in the process of closing off the road is to close the street while making it safe for emergency vehicles and pedestrians.

She added, “We’ll have a public discourse on how we’re going to beautify this and close it off.”

North Haven Passes Law to Ban Cell Tower Legislation

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By Claire Walla

Solidifying motions taken last month to repeal the first law passed in the village this year, the North Haven Village Board of Trustees unanimously adopted Local Law Number 3 last Tuesday, July 5. It effectively rescinds Local Law Number 1, which created a section in village code to allow for a wireless communication tower to be built on village property.
(Trustee Jim Smyth was absent.)
“I’m sure everyone’s up to speed on this,” Mayor Laura Nolan said light-heartedly. “It was shown with great interest last month.”
At the last village board meeting June 7, nearly 40 residents filled all available seating inside village hall to oppose the original law, passed in May. The issue stems from the prospect of placing a cell tower — in this case a mono-pole — on village property. The village board began discussing the issue of cell phone reception — or rather lack of it — in earnest in January after watching a presentation by Suffolk Wireless, LLC, the proposed builder of such a pole.
But many residents came forward with strong objections to the idea of a cell-phone tower, citing health concerns and issues of village aesthetics. Ultimately, community backlash prompted the trustees to rescind the law — though no formal plans to build the tower were ever presented.
This week’s meeting was less well attended, with only one local resident speaking about the issue during public comment session.
In addition to the public hearing on this law — to rescind cell tower legislation — Mayor Nolan also introduced a second public hearing for a law to enact a moratorium on cell tower applications in the village.
“Essentially, the moratorium gives us the power to deny applications,” Nolan said.
The moratorium would last six months from when the law is signed into legislation by the state, which according to Village Clerk Georgia Welch, will be about 10 days from now.
“The boiler plate issue is that this will give us breathing room to entertain other options,” Welch explained. In other words, the moratorium will suspend any applications for cell towers or other wireless technology that may otherwise be brought to the village in the next six months. Without specific applications to attend to and consider, the village board will be free to look into other options and newer technologies.

In other news…

Village Clerk Georgia Welch noted she had received a letter of correspondence from North Haven resident April Gornik, who requested the village’s permission to post two signs urging drivers to slow-down for turtles crossing.
Gornik suggested placing one of the signs — both of which she purchased herself — on an existing pole across from her home on Fresh Pond Road.
The village noted complications with posting anything on a LIPA or Verizon pole, which are privately owned, but expressed an overall enthusiasm for the idea.
“I’d like to see us preserve these creatures,” Gornik wrote, explaining that the eastern box turtle is now extinct in Nassau County.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Trustee Dianne Skilbred. “I think we should do it.”

After nearly two years of ongoing negotiations, village trustees have come to a general consensus on the location of a dock proposed by the Lathem family to be built on their property. Separate plans to move the dock to the north of the property and then to the south of the property generated complaints from the Lathem’s neighbors on both ends. So, trustees ultimately agreed to the original plan, which will see a dock built closer to the middle of the Lathem’s property.
At issue now is lighting, a topic raised by North Haven resident Bob Falborn, who wondered whether the lights designed for the dock would be as bright as those now lighting-up Jimmy Buffett’s North Haven dock.
Contractor John Costello explained that the low-projection lighting now planned for the Lathem’s dock would, in fact, illuminate the deck at all hours of the night.
Village trustees said they were opposed to that plan, and suggested minimal, low-projection lights that would function with an on/off switch.

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.