Tag Archive | "Southampton Town"

Southampton Town Buys Market Property

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The Southampton Town Board on July 22 approved the purchase of the Hayground Market property on Montauk Highway in Water Mill. The town will pay just under $1 million for the development rights to the site. The market, long a landmark on the north side of the highway, has been for sale this year.

 

Lighted Crosswalk Proposed in Bridgehampton

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The existing crosswalk in front of the Hampton Library. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

Southampton Town is looking to install warning lights at what many say is a dangerous crosswalk on Bridgehampton’s Main Street.

Christine Fetten, the town’s director of municipal works, and Tom Neely, its public transportation and safety director, sought out community opinions at Monday’s Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meting regarding the installation of the lights in front of the Hampton Library.

Library Director Kelly Harris approached Senator Kenneth P. LaValle for a grant for a lighted crosswalk system, they said, which the senator has secured.

The town had initially looked at in-ground lights, similar to those used on East Hampton Village’s Main Street, but it now has its eye set on Rapid Flashing Beacons. These solar-powered lights that flash to warn oncoming drivers when sensors detect a pedestrian, or when they are activated by pushing a button from the sidewalk.

There are some troubling visibility issues at the existing crosswalk, officials said. On the south side of the street, there is a very large linden tree that blocks visibility for eastbound motorists. Also, Ms. Fetten noted that the crossing is right next to the exit of a municipal parking lot.

According to Ms. Fetten, Bartlett Tree Experts examined the tree and determined that it was “not in very good condition.” CAC members unanimously agreed that they would be in favor of the removal of the tree if it were replaced with a more street-friendly tree.

They also said that they would support the installation of the rapid flashing beacons. Members of the CAC also suggested that Bridgehampton could benefit from more traffic cops during the summer who could help direct traffic.

Peconic Land Trust Still Working Hard to Preserve Farmland

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The Pike farm stand on Main Street in Sagaponack. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Mara Certic

The Peconic Land Trust has been dedicated to preserving the natural lands and working farms on the East End for over 30 years. As real estate prices continue to climb, the land trust has been exploring ways to impose restrictions that would keep local farmers farming.

John v.H. Halsey, president of the Peconic Land Trust, spoke about some of the methods to preserve farmland at this month’s meeting of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday, July 28.

The most common way, the purchase of development rights, was pioneered nationwide by Suffolk County in 1970s. The practice has since been emulated throughout the nation.

“A simple explanation is this: when you own land, it comes with a bundle of rights. Zoning, of course, gives you the parameters of what you can do with it,” Mr. Halsey explained on Monday. “Probably the most valuable right associated with land is the right to build,” he said. The other rights, such as the right to farm or the right to walk on the land have less value in the marketplace.

“So the farmer would sell the most valuable rights associated with the land, but they would retain all the other rights with it,” he said. This became an opportunity for farmers to tap into the equity of their land and afford the estate tax on their land. It was also a way to ensure that farmland remained agricultural land and to prevent the over development of open space.  Beginning in the early 1980s, East End towns began creating funds to purchase development rights and open space.

Another way of protecting agricultural land is through the subdivision process. The  cluster provision, which came into use in the 1980s, typically “clusters” development in the least valuable portion of the property and requires that 50 to 65 percent of the rest of the land be preserved.

According to Mr. Halsey, both methods have been successful components of conservation through the years, but more needs to be done.

“As land value goes up, the federal estate tax becomes more of an issue. The value of real estate has continued to go up and today it’s higher than it’s ever been and it’s higher than anyone could have thought,” Mr. Halsey said.

“Non-farmers are not bound by the same economic reality,” he continued. Over the past 40 years, 12,000 acres of farmland has been protected in Suffolk County; several thousand of those acres are in the Town of Southampton.

However much of this land has been taken out of production,  with much of it going top equestrian uses, which is defined as an agricultural use by New York State, he added.

Mr. Halsey was keen to say that he has no problem with horses, but stressed, “It is disturbing to me that that could end up being the only agricultural use that anyone has in the long run. I’m seeing the intent of these programs unraveling.”

“We need to do something and do it in a way that’s fair,” he added.

In 2010, the Peconic Land Trust purchased 7.6 acres of farmland from the Hopping family in Sagaponack for $6 million. It then sold the development rights to the county for $4.3 million. “We wanted to get this land into the hands of the Pikes,” Mr. Halsey said, noting that Jim Pike had farmed on the land when it was owned by the Hopping family but did not have the means to purchase it from them directly.

As a public charity, however, the Peconic Land Trust cannot sell something to someone at less than market value, and even without the developmental rights, the farmland was expensive for the Pikes.

So the trust borrowed restrictions that Massachusetts and Vermont have been using to protect farmland. It was then able to put in these additional restrictions, which “reduced the value of that farmland so non-famers weren’t interested,” he said.

Under the deal, the parties agreed to eliminate equestrian use and drastically limited the right of Mr. Pike to use the property for nursery stock. The trust has retained the right to lease the land to a farmer if it is taken out of production for two years. The trust also put on a restriction to ensure that it has the right to review the future sales of the farmland and that it must be sold to a qualified farmer. It sold the property to the Pikes for $167,200.

“Our goal has been to model these restrictions and try to get the town to consider incorporating them into the town purchasing policy,” Mr. Halsey told the CAC.

Three months ago, these additional restrictions were used by the trust to purchase 33 acres on Head of Pond Road in Water Mill. “We’re very pleased that the town board agreed unanimously to purchase the additional restrictions,” he said.

“We’re the first municipality in the State of New York to include these new restrictions and [the members of the board] deserve a lot of credit for that,” he said.”

The Peconic Land Trust will celebrate the latest acquisition on Tuesday, August 5, at 10 a.m. at the newly acquired land.

 

Pharmacy Giant Files for Special Exemption Permit on Busy Bridgehampton Corner

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This week, CVS filed for a special exemption permit for a 9,500 square-foot store at a busy intersection on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Mara Certic

After months of grumbling, hand-wringing and even a pair of protest marches, Bridgehampton residents’ fears that CVS Pharmacy would try to shoehorn a store into the busiest corner in the hamlet took a step closer to being realized this week.

According to Kyle Collins, Southampton Town’s planning and development administrator, Bridgehampton BNB IV Ventures, the company that owns the property at the northwest corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, has applied for a special exception permit from the Southampton Town Planning Board to open a 9,500-square-foot store at the site.

“At 3:30 this afternoon I got an e-mail from Kyle Collins telling me that BNB IV Ventures has applied for the special exception before the planning board,” Nancy Walter Yvertes solemnly announced to members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday, July 28. Mr. Collins is the town’s planning and development administrator.

For months, the CAC, and a spin off group, Save Bridgehampton Main Street, has been fighting the proposed CVS through letter-writing campaigns, distributing petitions and even protesting.

Site plan approval has already been granted for a two-story building with 9,500 square feet of space at the site, but in the Village Business zoning district, businesses are limited to 5,000 square feet. Larger businesses are allowed only if a special exception permit is granted.

Members of the CAC and Save Bridgehampton Main Street have been writing letters to CVS executives for months but have not received any satisfactory response, they said.

“Now that the planning board has the file, we have the right to correspond with Dennis Finnerty and all of the people on the planning board,” Ms. Walter Yvertes told the other members of the CAC.  Mr. Finnerty is the board’s chairman.

Ms. Walter Yvertes also announced that Steven Schneider, an engineer conducting a traffic study for Save Bridgehampton Main Street, had agreed to analyze the turning movements at both driveways to the site. There is a driveway on Montauk Highway and one at the end of Lumber Lane at the turnpike. The analysis would add $1,800 to the cost of the traffic study, she said.

“Originally, I did not think it was necessary, but rethinking it, it very well could be. It may lead us, for example, to recommending restrictions on vehicles entering and exiting the driveways because of the traffic flow and the geometrics of the closeness of those driveways to the major intersection,” Mr. Schneider wrote in an e-mail to Ms. Walter Yvertes on Friday, July 25.

Ms. Walter Yvertes commented that it should really be the town conducting the study and that town officials should be “encouraged to do their jobs.”

CAC member Julie Burmeister also announced that a videographer had been chosen to film the busy intersection as part of the study. She explained that for some reason, the traffic is at its heaviest at that spot at around 10:30 a.m., and so they will be filming the flow of cars, trucks and bicycles at that hectic time of day in an effort to prove that the already dangerous corner will likely become unbearable if the CVS plan is approved.

Many of the members of the CAC also sit on Save Bridgehampton Main Street, which has hired attorney Vince Messina to fight the CVS application. The Islip-based lawyer was recommended to the organization by Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein, a resident of Bridgehampton.

When members asked why a local lawyer had not been chosen, CAC-member Peter Wilson responded, “I think she picked him because she’s had experience with him and feels that he’s a top performing litigator and he also has a pretty formidable reputation in Suffolk County.”

Ms. Water Yvertes added that when she told Jeff Murphree, the town’s former planning and development administrator, who has been helping his in-laws fight the CVS application, of their choice of lawyer “his eyes started twinkling and he said ‘Oh, he’s very strong.’”

CAC members s found several parts of the special exception use standards that they believe the proposed CVS would not be able to comply with. One provision states that there must be sufficient off-street parking and truck loading spaces for the anticipated number of employees, patrons and visitors and that “the layout of the spaces and driveways is convenient and conducive to safe operation.”

Jim Olson asked the assembled members of the CAC if they thought that their efforts would prevail; they replied that it would probably come down to the other lawyer, Wayne Bruyn.

They anticipated that he would try to time the hearing for the wintertime, when fewer Bridgehampton homeowners are in town to voice their opinions.

According to an email from Mr. Collins, of the town’s Department of Land Management, the absolute earliest date that a public hearing would take place would be on November 13.

Ms. Walter Yvertes said that she thought it was unlikely that it would qualify for a special exception permit “unless Wayne Bruyn’s a magician.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Bruyn said that he was not involved with the application. He said it was not BNB IV Ventures, but CVS itself, which had filed the permit application. He said he does not represent the pharmacy company and has not prepared an application for it nor reviewed it at this time.

Mr. Messina was not available for comment by the time of this paper’s publication.

 

 

Southampton Opens Satellite Office

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Southampton Town earlier this month opened a satellite Land Management office at the Hampton Bays Community Center at 25 Ponquogue Ave in Hampton Bays in an effort to provide more convenient access to residents and members of the local building trades.

The office will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays only from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Employees will be on hand to accept properly completed applications for building permits, zoning, planning and environmental matters and other services handled through the department.

“Traffic alone creates major logistical hardships for residents and visitors to the East End,” said Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst in a release.  “The satellite office will significantly reduce travel time for residents and workers who live or have job sites west of the canal.”

Dinosaur Sighting in Bridgehampton

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Pastor Katrina Foster and daughter Zoya pose with the giant raptor statue in front of Bridgehampton’s Incarnation Lutheran Church. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

People driving through Bridgehampton may be searching for an explanation behind the newest lawn ornament at the Incarnation Lutheran Church this week.

But according to Pastor Katrina Foster, the 350-pound, nine-foot-tall raptor is spending the week in front of the church not to provide any sort of comment or message but simply to provide a little bit of comic relief.

Three years ago, as Pastor Foster drove past Yesterday’s Treasures—the statue store on County Road 39 in Southampton that often resembles a prehistoric, stationary zoo—she turned to her wife and asked “Wouldn’t it be funny if we put a dinosaur in front of the church?”

When her wife, Pamela, responded with laughter, Pastor Foster “knew she was onto something,” she said.

Larry Schaeffer, at Yesterday’s Treasures, agreed to loan out the dinosaur for free for one week a summer (“you can’t have it for long, it’ll lose its impact,” he reportedly warned Pastor Foster). The only condition: that the church cover the cost of insuring the dinosaur—which was paid after the church’s insurance company determined the dinosaur was worth the equivalent of a high-end photocopier.

This is the third year of “Dino Days” at the Bridgehampton Church, but the first year that Pastor Foster’s daughter, Zoya, has been home from sleep-away camp to see the dinosaur on the front lawn of the church.

Pastor Foster referred to Zoya as her “secret weapon” in this paleontological procurement; this year’s raptor is the biggest yet.

When Pastor Foster announced at a meeting on Monday morning that this week was “Dino Days,” a secular woman who she said would never step foot in a church, made a point of complimenting Pastor Foster on her dino-decision, and said: “It’s such a nice counter-weight to the hateful churches and all their hatefulness.”

 

 

Helicopter Noise at an Unbearable All-Time High, According to Sag Harbor CAC

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By Mara Certic

Helicopter noise dominated the discussion at the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee meeting last week.

Southampton Town Councilwomen Bridget Fleming and Christine Scalera attracted a small crowd of non-members to the CAC’s monthly meeting on Friday, July 18, in the Pierson High School Library.

Susan Baran, a member of the CAC, announced as she briskly walked into the meeting: “This is the worst day ever.” The helicopter noise over by Long Pond had started at 6 a.m. that morning and hadn’t stopped all day, she said. Those in the room agreed with Ms. Barren that it was “the worst it had ever been.”

Rosemary Caruso added that the “all-white helicopters are the worst,” and that she and her husband see them all the time from their North Haven home.

Bob Malafronte and Barry Holden explained the current situation with helicopter routes and answered questions. Both men are members of the CAC and are the only two Southampton representatives on East Hampton Town’s helicopter noise abatement committee. Mr. Malafronte explained that East Hampton has two airport advisory committees. One of the committees is made up of helicopter and airplane proponents, he said, and is “misleading at best.” The other committee that both Mr. Malafronte and Mr. Holden sit on and which is composed of those concerned with noise issues speaks “nothing but facts and the truth,” he said.

The current problem is exacerbated by the total lack of restrictions at the airport, Mr. Malafronte said. Pilots do not follow the designated routes, he said, adding that 83 percent of the helicopters that flew in and out of East Hampton Airport over July Fourth weekend did not comply with the altitude restrictions.

The two men said that they are in the minority on the committee. “We had to force our way on,” said Mr. Malafronte. He even suggested that airport manager Jim Brundige was “targeting” Southampton Town residents. “This man Brundige has to go,” he said.

Councilwoman Scalera interjected to tell the members of the CAC that they were “very, very, very well represented” by their two Southampton reps. “Without you behind us,” Mr. Malafronte said to her, “we’d be nowhere.”

Mr. Holden said that the new East Hampton Town Board does actually seem to want to solve the problem caused by helicopter noise, unlike the previous administration. He mentioned that East Hampton Town Board member Kathee Burke-Gonzalez sits on both airport advisory committees, and Councilwoman Scalera sits on the noise abatement committee, too.

Recently, the men said, the committees have been working on letter-writing campaigns. They emphasized the importance of documenting complaints about helicopter and aircraft noise, by calling the complaint hotline or writing letters to the editor in local papers.

Their new focus, however, “is to go after the FAA not just to ask for changes but to start demanding answers.” Mr. Malafronte said. “We’re going to focus on Huerta, the man has to produce answers.”

Michael Huerta is the administrator of the FAA, who Mr. Malafronte says “has been hiding.” Mr. Malafronte’s new tactic, he said, is to go after Mr. Huerta “more aggressively.”

A meeting with Congressman Tim Bishop scheduled to take place on August 12 is the next big step, he said. The committee members hope to have at least a representative from the FAA, if not Mr. Huerta himself, present to answer questions.

The meeting will take place at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center  at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12.

To register an airport noise complaint call 1-800-376-4817 or visit planenoise.com/khto/

Issues of dumping on Town Line Road continue to trouble members of the Sag Harbor CAC. Several members discussed the problems, mentioning that tires and have piled up and that some people have even gone as far as to dump their mattresses there. “They go out of their way to dump there,” said CAC member Steve Schuman.

“What’s the solution, besides setting up snipers in the woods?” asked CAC member Judah Mahay. He suggested that the CAC look into the feasibility of setting up security cameras, or even looking into getting police to do surveillance at the site once a month.

“If you report it to the public, this could be enough to mitigate it,” he said.

 

Taking It to the Streets

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Members of Save Bridgehampton Main Street, an organization that was founded in large measure to fight the possibility of a CVS Pharmacy moving to the hamlet will gather again at 10 .m. on Saturday, July 19, to protest the possible development.

As they did at their first demonstration, on Thursday, July 10, protesters will gather in front of a vacant lot at the intersection of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton Turnpike.

The property, the site of the former Bridgehampton Beverage store, is owned by BNB Ventures, which has agreed to a lease with CVS for a 9,000-square-foot building it plans to erect at the site. The development would require a special exception permit from the Southampton Town Planning Board because current zoning limits individual uses to no larger than 4,500 square feet. An application has not yet been filed.

Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele Address Concerns in Noyac

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President of the Noyac Civic Council Elena Loreta, left, and New York State Senator Ken LaValle in a meeting on Tuesday, July 8. Photo by Mara Certic

By Mara Certic

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. were special guests at the monthly meeting of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday, July 8, where they spoke to their East End constituents about local concerns.

“I have a slogan,” began the senator, who arrived wearing his trademark baseball cap. “First district first,” he said. “If you look at the legislation that Fred and I have introduced, easily 50 percent of it deals with local issues and local problems.”

Both the senator and the assemblyman said they were pleased to see so many other elected officials at the Old Noyac Schoolhouse that night; Southampton Town Board members Bridget Fleming, Christine Scalera and Brad Bender were present, as well as newly elected North Haven Village Trustee Thomas J. Schiavoni.

“We spend a lot of time talking to people and listening to people,” the senator said as he mentioned one of his mother’s favorite sayings: God gave you two ears and one mouth and he did that for a reason: so listen!”

Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele answered questions about topics ranging from gas prices to speed cameras, but most of the meeting was spent discussing taxes, education and water quality.

“One of the things I felt is that taxes are too high, property taxes in particular,” said Senator LaValle. “So we passed a multi-year plan,” he said in reference to the state-mandated two-percent tax levy cap that went into effect three years ago.

“You’re all familiar with the property tax cap and quite frankly it’s not perfect,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “But I think it’s worked very well.”

The tax cap was coupled with a tax freeze for the next two years, he explained, and residents of Sag Harbor will receive a tax rebate check this year. In future years, he explained, a tax credit will be given to those who live in a school district that does not pierce the tax cap.

Next year not only will the town, the school district and the county all have to meet the cap, but they will also have to submit a government efficiency plan to reduce the tax levy by 1 percent over the following two years. These plans will have to be approved by the state, the assemblyman said.

“Southampton and Tuckahoe are exploring the idea of consolidation,” he said of the neighboring school districts. “That might qualify for a government efficiency plan.”

“All of us agree that our schools should seek to have higher standards, we have to compete in a global economy now,” he said. That being said, Mr. Thiele quoted a colleague of his in the Assembly who said that “the Titanic had a better roll-out than Common Core.”

Mr. Thiele went on to say that he believed that the implementation of the Common Core this year was “a failure.”

“It was implemented from an ivory tower in a top-down fashion that didn’t take into account parents or teachers,” he said, adding that it should have been put in place “from the ground up.”

“The last thing that both Fred and I were very, very busy with,” Mr. LaValle said, “is the protection of our groundwater and surface water.”

The two men have spent the past year working on legislation called the “Long Island Water Quality Control Act.”

“In spite of all our best efforts we’re still seeing a decline in water quality,” said the assemblyman, who is in part responsible for the creation of the Peconic Estuary Program.

Previous legislation, he said, had focused on regulations for “future land use” when town land was split evenly in three: vacant, occupied and protected.

Today, he said, less than 10 percent of the land in Southampton and East Hampton is unspoken for. “If we’re going to change the issue, we need to change how we treat existing land uses. That’s how we’re going to make a difference and that’s what this legislation seeks to do.”

The two men lauded Southampton Town for the leadership role it has taken regarding research into new technology and alternative septic systems. The two state officials had a meeting organized for the following day at Stony Brook University about creating such new technology.

“We all want to see clean drinking water, but if you tell people they’re going to have to pay $25,000 to $30,000, people can’t afford that expenditure. The technology has to be evolved,” Mr. Thiele said. “Clean water is not just an issue on Long Island, it’s an issue globally.” He said he hopes that Suffolk County can become an incubator for water-quality technology, which would also create high-paying jobs, he said.

Mr. Thiele heard from the DEC, he said, that Governor Cuomo plans to release his own report on water quality in the next two to three weeks. “When he wants to do something, he’s going to take center stage. Nobody preempts the governor.”

Mr. Thiele encouraged Noyackers to write to the DEC about wells that monitor water quality near sand mines, such as Sand Land off Millstone Road in Noyac. In light of a recent ruling that instilled home-rule powers in upstate New York over hydrofracking, Mr. Thiele suggested that local officials might have an existing authority to mandate the monitoring by local law.

The Noyac Civic Council meets next on Tuesday, August 12, at the Bridgehampton Nutrition Center when Congressman Tim Bishop will attend to answer questions about the Federal Aviation Administration. Elena Loreto, president of the council, reminded residents to report disruptive aircraft noise and to send letters to the FAA in the next week to ensure that helicopters continue to follow the North Shore over-the-water route. Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele said that they, too, would contact the FAA.

“We wrote to them before and we’ll be happy to do it again,” said Mr. Thiele. “We have supported this for quite a while.”

 

 

Suffolk County to Spray for Mosquitos in Southampton and East Hampton

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Salt marshes throughout Suffolk County will be sprayed with pesticides by helicopter to control mosquito larvae on Tuesday, July 8.

The Suffolk County Department of Public Works’ Division of Vector Control plan to use large droplet, low altitude application of BTI and Methoprene between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow. A press release from the Suffolk County Department of Health named the marshes that will be sprayed tomorrow. In Southampton Town: Stokes Poges, Jagger Lane, Moneybogue Bay, Westhampton Dunes, Meadow Lane, Iron Point and North Sea.

In East Hampton Town Napeague, Beach Hampton and Accabonac Harbor will all be sprayed with larvicides.

The Suffolk County Department of Health wrote that no precautions were recommended for this spray, as the helicopters will be flying low and avoiding inhabited areas: “Human exposure from this operation is unlikely and the products involved have no significant human toxicity,” according to the release.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman introduced a bill last year that would restrict the use of Methoprene, a larvicide that has been linked to killing lobsters. Mr. Schneiderman continues to seek support for this bill; similar laws have been passed in Connecticut and Rhode Island.