Tag Archive | "sag harbor village"

Rivers “Legs” Will Remain in Sag Harbor as Court Case Continues

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By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Gavin Menu

You might call it a stay of artistic execution.

This week, Sag Harbor village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said the Village of Sag Harbor would not cite Janet Lehr and Ruth Vered for keeping the Larry Rivers’ “Legs,” planted in a thin strip of property next to their Madison Street home until a court decides the sculpture’s fate.

In June, Lehr and Vered filed an article 78 lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) contesting that board’s April decision to not grant Lehr and Vered variances, relief needed to legalize the 16-foot sculpture, which was erected next to their home in 2008.

It was in 2008 that village officials ruled Lehr and Vered needed a building permit to display “Legs” alongside their home, the former Bethel Baptist Church on Madison Street in the historic district of Sag Harbor. For almost two years the “Legs” went unnoticed. Then a member of the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board (ARB) pursued the matter after Vered applied to that board for a certificate of occupancy to repaint the historic residence.

According to Sag Harbor Village Building Inspector Tim Platt, the “Legs” are viewed as a “structure” under the village code. There is no provision exempting art from village law and as a structure Lehr and Vered needed four variances, including one that would allow an accessory structure one foot from the property line where 35 feet is required.

The ZBA refused to entertain any arguments that the “Legs” should be exempt from the code as it is art, noting it did not believe art should be legislated. Their decision also noted allowing a structure a foot from the property line was not a precedent they wished to set and that neighbors “vehemently” opposed the application.

The decision also states the location of the proposed structure in the historic district is “contrary to the goals of the village to preserve and protect historic character” and that Lehr and Vered have other alternatives in how they display the sculpture.

The board did agree to allow Lehr and Vered to keep the “Legs” through the summer, until September 15. However, it stipulated Lehr and Vered must remove nighttime lighting as it was one of the issues neighbors have with the sculpture.

In June, Lehr and Vered sued the ZBA, calling their decision unreasonable and one made without taking into account the full record amassed during a two-year battle in front of the village boards.

Because the case is ongoing, said Thiele in an interview this week, the village will not pursue requiring Lehr and Vered meet that September 15 deadline to remove the “Legs.” However, Thiele said the women, who own and manage Vered Modern and Contemporary Art, have ceased lighting the sculpture.

“I think where we are is that they will be allowed to remain, pending the outcome of the litigation,” said Thiele noting the practice is fairly common.

Thiele said currently the Village of Sag Harbor is working on a legal brief for the court and hoped between now and the end of the year a judge in the New York Supreme Court will have ruled on the case.

Thiele added that in an article 78 lawsuit, the court only considers whether or not there was a rational basis for a determination by examining the court record.

If either side is unhappy with the court’s decision, said Thiele, they will have the opportunity to appeal that decision in the appellate court system.”

Update: Police Searching for Driver in Hit & Run that Killed Syosset Nun

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Southampton Town Police are seeking the help of residents in locating the driver of a car involved in a hit and run in Water Mill that claimed the life of a 60-year-old nun.

According to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, police believe they know who the man is and are currently trying to locate him. As of Wednesday afternoon, police had yet to make an arrest.

According to reports, on Monday night around 8:30 p.m. Southampton Town Police received a 911 call about a female lying on the ground near 383 Rose Hill Road in Water Mill. Police said the caller described the woman as “bleeding and unresponsive.” Southampton Town Police Officers and detectives responded to the scene where they say they found a white female, 60 years old, laying dead on Rose Hill Road.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, The New York State Troopers, a Riverhead K-9 Unit, members of the Suffolk County Police Crime Lab, and the Southampton Fire Department responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.

Police identified the woman as Sister Jacqueline Walsh, of Syosset. Police said the Roman Catholic nun was on a retreat with her colleagues from the Sisters of Mercy.

In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, police said they believe she was the victim of a hit-and-run accident involving someone who left the scene, and his vehicle, behind. Detectives located an unoccupied 2009 Volkswagen Touareg about a half-mile from the crime scene that was damaged on the front end of the vehicle.

On Tuesday, police continued their search for the driver asking residents for help in locating him. According to police, they are searching for a white, Hispanic male, approximately 5’7”, in his 20s or 30s with short spiked hair. Police believe he was wearing dark shorts and a white shirt at the time of the accident.

However, on Tuesday during a press conference about a separate incident, District Attorney Spota said police believe they know who the driver was and now are in the process of trying to find him.

“We know who the driver of the car is and there are police officers right now on the street trying to locate him,” said Spota when questioned by a reporter at the press conference.

“He lives in the community where the incident occurred,” he added. “They are looking for the individual, but we know who he is.”

According to Spota, a prosecutor from the vehicle crimes unit has already been assigned to the case.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the detective’s unit at 702-2230.

Southampton Town Police are seeking the help of residents in locating a man they believe hit a nun with his car in Water Mill and then fled the scene, leaving his vehicle, and the 60-year-old woman who would succumb to her injuries.
According to police, on Monday night around 8:30 p.m.  Southampton Town Police received a 911 call about a female lying on the ground near 383 Rose Hill Road in Water Mill. Police said the caller described the woman as “bleeding and unresponsive.” Southampton Town Police Officers and Detectives responded to the scene where they say they found a white female, 60 years old, laying dead on Rose Hill Road.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, The New York State Troopers, a Riverhead K-9 Unit, members of the Suffolk County Police Crime Lab, and the Southampton Fire Department responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.
Police identified the woman as Sister Jacqueline Walsh, of Syosett. Police said she was on a retreat with her colleagues from the Sisters of Mercy.
In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, police said they believe she was the victim of a hit-and-run accident, possibly involving someone who left the scene, and his vehicle, behind. Detectives located an unoccupied 2009 Volkswagen Tourareg about a half-mile from the crime scene that was damaged on the front end of the vehicle.
As of Tuesday morning, police were still searching for the driver and asked area residents for their help in locating him. According to police, they are searching for a white, Hispanic male, approximately 5’7”, in his 20’s or 30’s with short spiked hair. Police believe he is wearing dark shorts and a white shirt at the time of the accident.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the detective’s unit at 702-2230.

 

Sag Harbor Adopts New Chicken Law

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After no protests, the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees passed the newest version of a law allowing residents to keep chickens on their properties Tuesday night.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Mayor Gilbride.

Last year, the village board passed its first law allowing people to keep chickens — no roosters — on residential properties. However, after what Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. called “a difference of opinion within the building department” over whether or not the law required a minimum lot size — something the village board did not intend — the board agreed to clarify the law.

The village chicken law now allows residents to keep one chicken per 3,500 square-feet of lot area. This paves the way for Grand Street resident Mare Dianora to re-apply to the village planning board to have three chickens on her property.

“So this application should move forward without anyone’s feathers getting ruffled,” joked Thiele.

The village board also adopted a law on Tuesday night that prohibits cars from crossing Jermain Avenue and entering Main Street while exiting Mashashimuet Park. According to Mayor Gilbride, it was an unwritten rule that now is codified for safety’s sake. The board also passed a law formally prohibiting residents from draining their pools into the roadway in any fashion, a practice that is already against state law.

Lastly, the village board is considering a new law to define the jurisdiction of the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB). According to Thiele, the law again came out of a disagreement within the building department about how far the ARB’s jurisdiction extends past the historic district.

Thiele and village attorney Denise Schoen drafted what they believe is a compromise — a law that gives the ARB jurisdiction over everything in the historic district, but only applications requiring site plan review outside of the historic district.

The board decided to sit on the law in the hopes of receiving public comment on the subject.

The next village board meeting will be held on August 14 at 6 p.m.

Squash: Making a Racquet in Southampton

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By Amy Patton

It’s a sport that has flown somewhat under the radar over the past seven years since five courts were installed at Southampton Youth Services’ (SYS) Elmaleh/Stanton Center. Squash — a fast-paced indoor racquet game that has traditionally been associated with the Ivy League — has been described as a hybrid of racquetball and handball. According to Walter “Wally” Glennon, the president of Southampton Squash, Inc. it is also a sport that has seen its share of enthusiastic participants expand over the years in this country.

“The sport is growing very rapidly here in the United States, especially in the amateur ranks,” said Glennon, a part-time coach at SYS and a board member with the organization.

And local kids are grabbing racquets and getting onto the court, too. A summer camp at SYS is in full swing this month and next with squash instruction and play offered as part of the overall sports learning environment for youth. Glennon, who compared the evolution of squash to “what tennis was 50 years ago,” noted the sport has become so popular, in fact, that a professional woman’s competition is making its way to the East End next week boasting a sizeable purse.

The Women’s Doubles Squash Association (WDSA), an eight-team professional event with a $20,000 prize, comes to SYS July 12 through July 15 and the youth squash program is set to receive an infusion of cash as a result. The proceeds of the event will go to a non-profit program to give kids at SYS, even those whose families cannot afford it, admittance to the squash courts as well as lessons.

“The biggest priority for us is to provide the opportunity of access to the squash courts, so that people in the community who want to play are able to,” explained Narelle Krizek, the head of the WDSA.

Krizek, an Australian native who currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and children, is obviously passionate about the sport. She began playing squash when she was a young girl growing up in the city of Brisbane. While she wants to bring the sport into the consciousness of all young athletes, she acknowledges there is a price tag attached to the game.

“It costs money to run these not-for-profit programs such as the one in Southampton [SYS],” she said. “We chose them as a beneficiary of our tour proceeds because they open their doors to allow anyone to play and that’s why we wanted to support the facility.”

She cited the availability of a doubles court — SYS has five singles courts and one doubles court — as another factor that spurred her team to choose SYS as a venue at which to hold the upcoming tourney, titled the First Annual Wilson Cup.

Sponsored financially by Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, Talmage LLC and Saratoga Partners, the competition will feature top WDSA players from the United States and other countries, including those who have earned their ranking playing throughout North America this past season. The women will also host a pro-am tournament in which players will team up with local amateurs who will pay for the privilege of competing with professional “squashies” as they are sometimes dubbed in Australia.

A recent visit to the SYS facility on Majors Path in Southampton found local youth hard at work on the courts, practicing drills and game strategy under the watchful eye of Egyptian-born coach Sayed Selim.

Fifteen year-old Alex Patricolo, a sophomore at Westhampton Beach High School, has been playing squash since the age of 11. Last year, he garnered a national junior ranking of 38.

“It’s a fast-paced game and you really have to be on your toes a lot to know what’s going on,” he said. “You need to have a good sense of anticipation too. You always have to be thinking about what type of shot the other player has planned next.”

While there’s no doubt that squash has millions of fans throughout the world, don’t expect to see it represented at the Olympics in London this summer. Although technically recognized as an Olympic sport by the International Olympic Committee, Krizek said squash hasn’t yet been approved for competition.

But there are hopes that, by 2016, as the sport grows in popularity the game will finally receive a nod from the IOC.

The Women’s Doubles Squash Association (WDSA) 1st Annual Wilson Cup presented by Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management will be played at SYS’s Elmaleh/Stanton Squash Center at 1370A Majors Path in Southampton July 12 through July 15. For more information, call 287-1511.

Above: Cameron Burton goes for a forehand against Cameron Munn during the squash summer camp at the Elmaleh-Stanton Squash Center at the SYS facility in Southampton on July 2. Photography by Michael Heller


State Tax Credits for Historic Preservation to be Expanded

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In a move New York State Assemblyman and Sag Harbor resident Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said was aimed at promoting preservation on the East End while also encouraging job growth, last week the Assembly passed legislation that will increase the maximum award available under the historic preservation tax code from $5 million to $12 million.

According to Thiele, the bill, which he sponsored, is expected to become law.

“Increasing the tax credit for builders and developers who want to do business on the East End may give them the added incentive they need to move forward on these projects and create jobs,” said Thiele in a press release issued last week. “The Assembly’s legislation opens up a bigger market for developers and investors and is another sign that New York is open for business. Additionally, the enhanced tax credit will preserve historic buildings, reduce blight and get more East End residents working.”
According to Thiele, prior to this legislation, the historic preservation tax credit was capped at $5 million per project and has been used by developers across the state to renovate and restore buildings that suffer from long-time neglect. Increasing the tax credit to $12 million creates a greater incentive for developers, said Thiele, and will make it more desirable to restore large, historic projects that may be financially cost prohibitive otherwise.

Lehr & Vered Sue Sag Harbor Village Over “Legs” Sculpture

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When Janet Lehr and Ruth Vered revived their battle in 2010 to keep Larry Rivers’ sculpture, “Legs,” planted next to their home on Madison Street in Sag Harbor, anyone who knew the proprietors of East Hampton’s Vered Art Gallery knew they would not give up a fight to defend what they view as their right to display art.

Earlier this month, they proved just that.

On June 5, Lehr and Vered’s attorney, Stephen Grossman, filed an Article 78 against the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals contesting that board’s April decision to not grant Lehr and Vered variances. Those variances were needed to legalize the 16-foot sculpture, which was erected next to their home in 2008.

It was in 2008 that village officials ruled Lehr and Vered needed a building permit to display “Legs”  alongside their home, the former Bethel Baptist Church on Madison Street in the historic district of Sag Harbor. For almost two years the “Legs” went unnoticed. Then a member of the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board (ARB) pursued the matter after Vered applied to that board for a certificate of occupancy to repaint the historic residence.

According to Sag Harbor Village Building Inspector Tim Platt, the “Legs” are viewed as a “structure” under the village code. There is no provision exempting art from village law and as a structure Lehr and Vered needed four variances, including one that would allow an accessory structure one-foot from the property line where 35-feet is required.

In its decision, the zoning board of appeals cited a Southold court case Miller vs. Price, where that town decided a sculpture of a heron needed a building permit. The town was sued but the decision was ultimately supported on the appellate level of the State Supreme Court.

The ZBA refused to entertain any arguments that the “Legs” should be exempt from the code as it is art, noting it did not believe art should be legislated. Their decision also noted allowing a structure a foot from the property line was not a precedent they wished to set and that neighbors “vehemently” apposed the application.

The decision also states the location of the proposed structure in the historic district is “contrary to the goals of the village to preserve and protect historic character” and that Lehr and Vered have other alternatives in how they display the sculpture.

The board did agree to allow Lehr and Vered to keep the “Legs” through the summer, until September 15, however, it stipulated Lehr and Vered must remove nighttime lighting as it was one of the issues neighbors have with the sculpture.

While the decision was levied in April, as of this week, the sculpture still remained lit at night, although on Monday, Sag Harbor Village Attorney Denise Schoen said the building department was in the process of filing charges regarding the lights.

When those charges would actually be levied, Schoen was unsure.

In Lehr and Vered’s lawsuit, Grossman argues the village cited the case of Miller vs. Price in error, as that case had less to do with a municipality defining art as a “structure” and more to do with a plaintiff failing to exhaust all other remedies before seeking a decision by the court.

“If in fact the sculpture is not a structure then the Board had and does not have any jurisdiction in this matter and it is Petitioner’s contention that both the decisions of the Building Inspector and the Board in this regard are arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and illegal in all respects,” writes Grossman.

He also argues the board ignored relevant facts and other evidence submitted into the record, “relied on self serving statements of fact and conclusions” and that it contradicted itself in determining the sculpture would not have a substantial impact on the physical and environmental conditions of the neighborhood, but would cause an undesirable change in the neighborhood.

Grossman also argues, given the size of the lot Lehr and Vered own, it was unreasonable for the board to suggest they could move the “Legs” elsewhere.

Lehr and Vered are asking the court to annul the ZBA’s decision, as well as their decision to uphold Platt’s determination that the “sculpture” is a “structure.”

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, village attorney Denis Schoen will handle the case for the ZBA. Schoen has until July 5 to review the case and respond to the court.

“This is not an issue of zoning, but a case where people just didn’t like it,” said Grossman in a phone interview on Monday. “I think the board acted inappropriately and my clients could win.”

Update: Duchemin Unseats Stafford; Stein Tops All in Sag Harbor Trustee Race

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In what was viewed largely as an upset, East Hampton Village Police sergeant and Sag Harbor Fire Department volunteer Kevin Duchemin earned enough votes to oust fellow fire department volunteer Bruce Stafford from the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees during Tuesday night’s election.

Duchemin captured 224 votes, just behind incumbent Robby Stein — who earned the most votes during Tuesday’s election with 255 ballots in his favor.

Stafford earned 176 votes to come in third place.

Tuesday night at the Brick Kiln Road firehouse, where village elections are held each year, Duchemin supporters crowded the hall, talking excitedly about their candidate’s prospects before village clerk Beth Kamper announced the results around 9:30 p.m. When it was clear Duchemin had earned enough votes to take Stafford’s seat on the board, a small cheer erupted from the crowd.

For Duchemin, who said he spent the day washing his car while the nerves of the day caught up with him, the campaign has been “a learning experience” and full of lessons he will take with him when he becomes a village board member in July.

“I just thank everyone for the support and look forward to working with other board members,” said Duchemin.

Stein, who was supported on Tuesday night by his wife, Alex McNear and her mother, Suzanne, said he was happy to have the support of the community and continue his work on the village board.

“I am happy I get to do more and keep going on the village board,” said Stein. “I think Kevin will have a lot to learn and I hope we can all work as a board. This may be the first year as long as I have been on the village board that there is a divide.”

Stein and Stafford were both incumbents who were endorsed by Mayor Brian Gilbride. Stafford and Duchemin largely disagreed over the way the village should handle its negotiations with the Sag Harbor PBA over a new police contract, which has reached an impasse and is headed to mediation next week. Duchemin was also critical of the village board’s decision to support a passenger ferry service as a pilot program this summer.


For Stafford, Tuesday’s loss was a surprise.

“I thought with all the endorsements we had we would have been fine,” said Stafford on Wednesday morning. “I have to say, [Duchemin] did do his homework. He got a lot of people to vote.”

Stafford said he will try and stay involved in village government, but to what capacity he was unsure.

“I hope the board can work together like the previous boards have,” said Stafford. “I hope the board’s attendance at meetings is the same and that everyone works towards the common goal for what is best for the village.”

“I think this was a popularity vote and Kevin won,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday night, shortly after the results were read. “I was a little surprised, but I have been on this board for a very long time and I look forward to moving on.”

In addition to the formal candidates, former Sag Harbor Mayor Pierce Hance earned five write-in votes, Harbor Committee member and owner of JCP Landscaping Jeff Peters earned two write-in ballots and Alessandra Novak earned one write-in ballot. One voter also wrote in, “No Ferry.”

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees will host its reorganizational meeting on Monday, July 2 at noon when Duchemin and Stein will be sworn into office.

In other news, in the uncontested race for mayor and trustee in North Haven there were no surprises. Mayor Laura Nolan earned 65 votes for re-election, trustee Dianne Skilbred earned 68 votes and trustee George Butts earned 69 votes. There were no write-in votes, according to village clerk Georgia Welch.

The North Haven Village Board will hold its reorganizational meeting, as well as its monthly business meeting, on Monday, July 2 at 5 p.m.

Suffolk County Extends Long Wharf Lease

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The Suffolk County Legislature agreed on Tuesday to extend the Village of Sag Harbor’s lease of Long Wharf through December of this year. According to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, the county will likely still transfer the iconic wharf’s ownership to the village some time in the next year once Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone as well as a majority of the county legislature signs off on the purchase.

“I think we have a new county executive who will deal with this issue,” said Schneiderman on Tuesday. “But I do believe the Long Wharf will be transferred to Sag Harbor before the end of the calendar year. There was opposition on the legislature in the past, but I believe we now have the support. We have already signed off on giving the village Windmill Beach and right now I am just waiting to attend that ribbon cutting ceremony.”

The ownership of Long Wharf has been up for debate since last year, when then Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy pushed for the county to hand the village the wharf, as well as the capital costs that come with maintaining Long Wharf. According to Schneiderman, while the new county executive is still reviewing a potential purchase, for as little as $1, by the Village of Sag Harbor, Tuesday’s resolution was meant to remove any hurdles the now approved Peconic Bay Water Jitney would have to lease Long Wharf from Sag Harbor for a pilot season this summer.

“By doing this, the county is now out of the permitting part of that process,” said Schneiderman. “We will not be in charge of deciding where that passenger ferry docks on Long Wharf and the village is free to set the dockage fees.”

Both Sag Harbor and Greenport villages have agreed to allow the Hampton Jitney to operate the Peconic Bay Water Taxi for one summer season this year at a cost of $12,000 apiece to study the success and impact of a passenger ferry service connecting the North and South forks.


State to Get Tough on Bullies

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The New York State Assembly has passed a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele aimed at cracking down on bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools, according to a press release issued on Tuesday.

Expanding on the Dignity for All Students Act, the legislation will establish a mandatory reporting system for all incidents of bullying and provide training for school staff.

According to Thiele, the legislation is expected to be passed by the state Senate and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“In today’s age of 24-hour connectivity and social networking, there is no escape for students who are subjected to cyber-bullying,” said Thiele. “Bullying that begins in school can follow them home and contribute to low self esteem, academic problems, delinquent behavior, and, tragically, violence and suicide. These new guidelines for combatting cyber-bullying will ensure a safe and secure learning environment for all our students both in and out of school.”

Under the legislation, all school staff will be required to report any incident of bullying or cyber-bullying to the principal or superintendent within one school day of the occurrence and submit a written report of the incident within three school days. Parents and students will also be able to submit reports and school administrations will be required to investigate every incident.

Schools will also be required to establish official guidelines for age-appropriate responses to harassment, bullying or discrimination, with detailed remedies and procedures.

The legislation also includes guidelines for teacher and staff training programs. All students and staff from kindergarten through 12th grade will have to attend bullying education classes and receive Internet instruction, added Thiele.

According to Thiele, in New York State nearly 16-percent of all students and nearly 21-percent of girls are subject to cyber-bullying through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, social network sites and through texting and other electronic devices each year.

“This legislation is a major step in the Assembly’s ongoing efforts to improve education and promote a safe and secure learning environment,” said Thiele. “No child should have to fear continued harassment and embarrassment from cyber-bullying. This legislation ensures parents, students and staff all have the tools they need to combat this serious issue.”

Immigration Case Worker Available on East End After Change in Federal Immigration Law

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In the wake of a new federal immigration policy, announced last Friday by President Barack Obama, Congressman Tim Bishop announced this week that his office has a full time immigration caseworker available to assist young people in New York’s First Congressional District seeking temporary legal status.

Interested constituents are encouraged to contact Leah Sullivan at 631-289-6500.

Under the immigration policy which President Obama implemented through an executive order, effective immediately some young people brought to the United States as young children will be eligible for relief from deportation and will also be eligible to work for two years, after which they can apply to renew that permit.

“I voted to pass the DREAM [Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors] Act in the House, and I support the President taking Executive action to give young people who came to America as children a chance to legally contribute to our society,” said Congressman Bishop in a press release issued on Monday morning. “This is a positive development for fairness in our immigration policy and my office stands ready to help young people who want to pursue relief from deportation and the ability to work legally in the United States.”

According to the new policy, in order to be eligible for relief, individuals must have come to the United States under the age of 16, have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years prior to June 15 when the order was passed, currently be in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a GED or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces.

Felons are not eligible, nor those convicted of a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses or those who otherwise pose a treat to national security or public safety. The policy caps eligibility for those who are under the age of 30.

More information is available at http://timbishop.house.gov/uploads/FINAL%20Web%20Text%20FAQ.pdf.