Tag Archive | "Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst"

Supervisor, Mine Operator Spar Over Water Testing

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By Stephen J. Kotz

John Tintle, the owner of the Sand Land sand mine in Noyac has typically kept a low profile. But as he seeks state Department of Environmental Conservation approval for a permit to expand his operations amid heavy opposition, he has begun to take his case to the public.

On Monday, Mr. Tintle was the guest of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, where he described Sand Land’s operations and answered questions from an audience that was bolstered by town officials, environmentalists and members of the Noyac Civic Council.

The conversation, which was largely cordial, grew testy when Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who was there on another matter, pressed Mr. Tintle to voluntarily submit to groundwater monitoring, similar to that which is done at both the Bridge golf club and the Sebonack Golf Club.

“How about you be a good neighbor and do the same?” the supervisor asked.

“How about I follow the town’s lead?” responded Mr. Tintle, who has complained that the town has mulching operations much like his at its North Sea, Hampton Bays and Westhampton transfer stations, and does not test the groundwater there.

“So you’re not willing to do it? she asked several times.

Mr. Tintle said he objected to “being compared to a golf course that puts tens of thousands of pounds of chemicals into the ground.”

And he added that he had sought a meeting with Ms. Throne-Holst to discuss his operation “but the message I got from your office was that the town did not have jurisdiction and the meeting was cancelled.”

Mr. Tintle also dismissed claims that mulch-making and composting make up the lion’s share of his business, saying that about two-thirds of the facility’s operations were dedicated to sand and gravel mining. He said Sand Land was the sole supplier of sand and gravel to Suffolk Cement and estimated that he provided the raw materials for between 80 and 90 percent of the concrete sold on the South Fork.

Supervisor Says Bridgehampton Gateway Could Be Fast Tracked

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst told the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday that the town was ready to move quickly on the proposed Bridgehampton Gateway development.

The supervisor said she would have a resolution ready for Tuesday’s town board meeting to fund the completion of a study, which she said was already about 80 percent done, so the town could officially launch the process of having the site on the south side of Montauk Highway across from the Bridgehampton Commons shopping center designated as a Planned Development District (PDD).

“We can put this on a pretty fast track,” she said.

Ms. Throne-Holst appeared at the meeting with Kyle Collins, the town’s planning and development administrator, developer Greg Konner, whose company owns the property being eyed for a mixed use development, and representatives of Araiys Design Landscape Architecture.

The CAC said it would support the proposal, and, at Mr. Collins’s suggestion, CAC co-chairwoman Nancy Walter-Yvertes, said she would solicit the names of six to eight people from the Bridgehampton community who would begin meeting with Mr. Collins shortly after Thanksgiving to offer suggestions for the scope of the development.

According to preliminary sketches, the development would consist of nine buildings, ranging in size from 4,700 square feet to 15,000 square feet. Eight of them would be designated for some type of commercial use. A total of 28 subsidized apartments would be built on the second floor of those buildings. An additional eight apartments that would be rented at “market rates” would occupy their own building to the rear of the property overlooking Kellis Pond.

Mr. Collins said the development would try “to build on the agricultural heritage of Bridgehampton with a farmstead theme.” That means architects would take their design cues from barns and other typical farm buildings. The buildings would be arrayed around a one-acre “pasture” off Montauk Highway, with parking and access roads tucked behind and largely out of sight from the road.

Although committee members in the past have said the development would offer a better location for a CVS pharmacy than the site on the other end of Bridgehampton’s shopping district that is being considered for one, Mr. Konner said no such plan is in the works at this early stage.

CAC member Julie Burmeister fretted about whether Mr. Konner would be able to find tenants. “We’ve had enough trouble keeping tenants at the Commons,” she said.

“I’ve had lots of people asking. I’ll have no problem renting them,” replied Mr. Konner.

Others said they didn’t want to be promised a number of small-scale stores and find themselves staring at a Home Depot or some other big box store.

Committee members also had questions about how the apartments would be managed, who would qualify for the subsidized units and what impact the development would have on schools.

Although most assumed the development would be in the Bridgehampton School District, and provide a tax boon to it, it actually is in the Southampton School District, so any children living there would go to Southampton public schools, as would the tax dollars generated by the development.

No matter what school district the project is in, the tax dollars raised “will vastly outweigh the cost of any kids going to school,” said Mr. Collins. He also cited demographic studies that have shown the number of children entering the schools would be limited, even if most of the apartments were two-bedroom units.

CAC members also asked about whether the development would be pedestrian friendly. Mr. Collins assured them it would be much more so than the Commons, which consists of stores surrounding a huge central parking lot. He also said access to the site would be directly across from the Commons, where there is already a traffic light.

Mr. Collins told the board the town has long sought to coordinate the development at the site, given its position as a gateway to Bridgehampton. That was always difficult, he said, because the site consisted of several different pieces. Those individual lots are all controlled by the Konners now, which will make it easier to review the site at once rather than “having a piecemeal application before the planning board,” he said.

Plans for the site were first considered as part of the town’s comprehensive plan update in 1999 and again in 2004 when the Bridgehampton Hamlet Study was done. A concept plan centering around a proposed 50,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble bookstore were also aired in 2008, but

Fire Commissioner Race

The committee also heard from Phil Cammann, an advanced emergency medical technician, and John O’Brien, a long-time firefighter and former chief, both of whom are seeking the one opening on the Bridgehampton Board of Fire Commissioners. The seat is a five-year term, and voting takes place on December 9.

Mr. Cammann promised better communication between the fire district and citizens, while Mr. O’Brien cited his nearly 40 years of service on the department.

East Hampton, Southampton Town Budgets Due

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The weeks of discussions and negotiations over annual budgets are coming to an end on Thursday, November 20, when the town boards of East Hampton and Southampton will be required by state late to adopt their 2015 operating budgets.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell has proposed a $71.5 million budget, which will require a 3.2-percent tax rate increase for those who live within East Hampton Village and a 2-percent tax rate increase for those residing outside of it.

This translates to a $14.32 increase for a house valued at $550,000 outside the village and $23.08 for one within the village boundaries.

Still, East Hampton’s preliminary budget is more than $300,000 below the state-mandated tax levy cap. Although some have criticized the high revenue estimates in the budget, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli reviewed the preliminary budget earlier this month and deemed the revenue and expenditure projections in the tentative budget as reasonable.

In Southampton Town, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst has presented yet another budget with a zero percent tax levy increase. Her $88.5 million budget includes money to hire six new police officers over two years.

The board has been under pressure from the Southampton Town Trustees and the Highway Department to include more money in their budget lines.

Each town included $100,000 in their budgets for their wastewater management plans and $25,000 each for the South Fork Behavioral Health Care Initiative.

The Southampton Town Board will adopt its budget when it meets at 11 a.m. today, Thursday, November 20. The East Hampton Town Board is scheduled to adopt its budget at its regular meeting tonight at 6:30.

East End Elected Officials Agree on Local Issues at LTV’s Second Village Green Meeting

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By Mara Certic

East End elected officials offered a strong, united front, seemingly agreeing on each and every local and national issue that cropped up during a “village green” discussion hosted by LTV Studios in Wainscott on Friday, October 17.

LTV hosted its second village green meeting of the year in an effort to give the public an opportunity to ask the five major East End elected officials about issues of concern.

Representative Tim Bishop, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst spent an hour and a half answering questions about various subjects including the potential of “Peconic County,” offshore wind farms, planning issues, heroin and Ebola. Robert Strada, the board president of LTV, moderated the discussion, and questions were submitted by the public through the website phlive.at.

The oft-examined notion of a new “Peconic County” was the first question to crop up during Friday’s forum, which Mr. Thiele and Mr. Schneiderman answered.

The discussion of Peconic County first began many years ago, when Suffolk County offices were moved from Riverhead to Hauppauge. Peconic County would be made up of the five East End towns, which officials have often complained that the county ignores their needs.

“We will never get our fair share from Suffolk County,” Mr. Thiele said, adding the East End represents 8 percent of the county’s population and yet pays in excess of 15 percent of the sales tax and over a third of the county’s property tax. He said Suffolk’s population of almost 1.5 million people is much larger than what a county’s should be.

“The East End is simply going to be the tail on the dog,” he said, “and it is only occasionally that the tail gets to wag the dog.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he had always been a supporter of local control but that starting a new county would be “an awful lot to take on,” and that now might not be the time. Mr. Thiele added there was currently a big push from the governor to consolidate and “we would be swimming against the tide.”

“The politics of creating new local governments is something that’s extremely hard to do,” he said. “The issue is whether or not you can get the political stars to line up to create the county.”

Supervisors Cantwell and Throne-Holst described some of the measures they have employed to protect local beaches, including the Army Corp of Engineers program in downtown Montauk and a $10 million grant East Hampton Town was awarded to protect the low-lying Lazy Point area of Napeague.

“Clearly we’re dealing with the issue of climate change,” Mr. Cantwell said. The elected officials all sprung at the opportunity to answer a question about Deepwater ONE, a proposed 200-megawatt offshore wind farm that would, if all goes according to plan, create enough electricity to power 120,000 homes.

“Wind has to be part of our energy portfolio going forward,” Mr. Bishop said, but emphasized the importance of siting the project appropriately so as not to disrupt aesthetics, fishing grounds or shipping lanes. “My own view is that it’s a pretty big ocean out there, and we should be able to figure this out,” he added. Legislator Schneiderman agreed it was important for the offshore wind developers to continue to work in conjunction with commercial fishermen but added, “This is too important for us to put up too many obstacles.” Mr. Schneiderman said the farm has “great potential to get our region off the grid”

“The reality is we’re woefully behind,” said Supervisor Throne-Holst about the use of renewable energy on the East End compared to the rest of the world.

Next week, the board of LIPA and Governor Cuomo are slated to have their last meeting about Deepwater ONE on Thursday, October 30. Environmental organizations have organized a “Rally for Renewables” to show the governor how much support an East End wind farm would have.

Governor Cuomo came under some fire when the assembled elected officials were asked how they allowed the 60-foot PSEG utility poles to be installed in East Hampton Village and Town. “That’s got a sorry tale, really,” said Mr. Cantwell.

“Public outreach and public notice isn’t opening up the window at the corporate headquarters at Hicksville at 3 o’clock in the morning and whispering ‘we’re going to build utility poles out in East Hampton,’” Mr. Thiele said. “They simply did not do what you would expect a public utility to do.” He went on to describe PSEG as “an unmitigated disaster.”

“The governor has been absent. I don’t know if he’s on his book tour, or what he’s doing but he’s not helping with this particular problem,” Mr. Thiele added.

At the end of the forum, each member of the panel was invited to make a closing comment. “We’re very, very fortunate to have this great and responsive group of people,” Ms. Throne-Holst said of her fellow elected officials. Representative Bishop said the good, professional relationships among the group of legislators “represents government at our best.”

“Really, I feel like we have an incredible team,” said Mr. Schneiderman, who is serving his last term as county legislator. Assemblyman Thiele said he knew he had said some “nasty” things about Governor Cuomo and added, “I just want to let you know, I’m not taking any of them back.”

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst Proposes $88.5 Million Budget for Southampton

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Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, pictured above, presented the Town’s Tentative 2015 Budget on Tuesday. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst presented Southampton Town’s $88.5 million proposed operating budget for 2015 on Tuesday, September 30.

“The 2015 tentative budget, and my previous four budgets, is based on the notion that sound financial footing is the bedrock upon which all town services rests,” said Ms. Throne-Holst.

“The degree and quality for which the town can provide for public safety, safe and well maintained roadways, clean and accessible beaches, parks and public spaces—and a host of other services that support and improve the quality of life for our citizens depends on our ability to provide that sound financial footing,” she continued.

“I am proposing modest increases in both the operating and capital budgets—principally in the Highway and Public Safety Funds, while proposing offsetting reductions or revenue increases in other areas,” she said.

Ms. Throne-Holst has included $695,000 in the budget in order to cover the salaries and benefits of eight new employees. The supervisor intends to hire one administrative position, an ordinance inspector, an environmental analyst, a maintenance mechanic, two police officers and two automotive equipment operators.

“In the past four years we have reduced overall staffing by about 15 percent,” the supervisor said. “However, as you all know, our town population continues to grow, and so then too, the need for services,” she continued.

The budget accounts for a 2-percent annual increases in salary and incorporates increases in employee contributions to health benefits, according to the supervisor. She added Southampton’s contracts represent “the most conservative increases in Suffolk County.”

The budget also includes funds for the town’s 375th anniversary celebrations and for a special prosecutor to focus solely on code enforcement issues.

Money has also been put aside to found a partnership with Stony Brook University in order to create a nitrogen mapping and awareness program, “as part of our overall effort to address water quality in our community and region,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

While the budget calls for an additional $3 million in spending, Ms. Throne-Holst said that steadily increasing revenues and appropriating modest amount from fund balances would offset the budget-to-budget differences and allow for no increase in the total tax levy.

“As anywhere else, our operating costs continue to rise, but fortunately our annual revenue to support the offset has grown as well,” she said. Mortgage tax revenue for 2014 is currently expected to be $1.2 million over the budgeted projection, she added.

Increased permit fees, fines and penalties have provided an increase in revenue as well, she said, as has the more aggressive prosecution of offenders. Combined, these revenues offset roughly $1.7 million of the $3 million in additional spending.

The budget as written proposes to draw the remaining $1.3 million needed to balance the budget from the town’s “very healthy fund balance.” The town’s fund balance is mandated to be 17 percent of the total operating budget; according to Ms. Throne Holst, the current balance is $29 million, which represents 32 percent of the budget.

She added, however, that she would be open to discussing the possibility of a 1.5-percent tax rate increase with the other members of the town board in the coming weeks.

“While my budget proposes a zero tax levy increase, New York State has offered municipalities incentives in the form of a rebate equal to the amount of any town tax increase up to the tax cap limit,” she said.

Governor Cuomo’s Tax Relief Rebate Program would entitle eligible taxpayers to a full rebate of their tax increase, which would translate to a zero increase to the taxpayer.

Ms. Throne-Holst proposed not to increase taxes because of how robust the fund balance is, she said, but also to not add to the tax base in future years. There is no guarantee the rebate program will continue in future years or that Southampton Town will be eligible in the future, she said.

She would be willing to consider the other option, to take advantage of the tax relief program, which could provide funding for future non-recurring projects. Ms. Throne-Holst explained the state program could fund additional necessary police and code enforcement vehicles as well as town fueling station upgrades and public safety communications equipment, all at no increased cost to the taxpayer.

“In such an option, homeowners would receive a tax rebate for the increase and the town would then benefit by not having to borrow or provide for them in future,” she explained.

“This is an option that warrants more discussion, and I look forward to evaluating the merits of utilizing this program with my colleagues as we move through the deliberative process and final budget adoption,” she said.

A series of public hearings and discussions regarding the tentative budget will take place over the next few weeks with the budget adoption slated for November 20.

Security Guard at Southampton Town Hall

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The Southampton Town Board last week announced it had hired a private security service, Summit Security Services Inc., for a guard who will stand watch during the board’s regular meetings.

“We do have a security guard with us now as is the norm at most public meetings today,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said at the board’s July 22 meeting, the first at which a guard was on duty.

The guard will also be in charge of signing in people who want to speak at public hearings, which Ms. Throne-Holst said members of the public had also requested.

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.”

Southampton Town Trustees State Their Case at Public Forum

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The Southampton Town Trustees at a public forum at Hampton Bays High School on Tuesday.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Southampton Town Trustees, who are sometimes confused with either the town board or any number of village boards, held a well-attended forum at Hampton Bays High School on Tuesday night to explain their role as the longest standing elective body in town government and outline some of the critical challenges facing them.

First and foremost among those challenges are a series of lawsuits that have been filed by property owners seeking to challenge the Trustees’ authority to regulate construction of things like revetments and retaining walls along the shoreline, maintain regulatory control over public beaches, protect the health of bays and streams, and even control their own purse strings.

As if to drive the point home that the Trustees are under siege, President Eric Shultz, who presided over the meeting, pointed out that a court reporter, seated at the front of the auditorium, was transcribing the event for plaintiffs in one of those suits.

The suits include one filed by residents of West Hampton Dunes over whether sand that has built up on the beach belongs to the homeowners or the town; a related suit by the homeowners that is seeking to take away the Trustees’ rights to control their own finances; a suit by the Trustees challenging the state Department of Environmental Conservation over revetments in Southampton Village; a suit over a Quogue resident’s placement of geotubes in front of their home without a permit; and a suit brought by Brookhaven Town baymen over fishing rights in town waters.

“Every suit is completely paid for out of Trustee money,” said Mr. Shultz. “The sale of sand out of Mecox Bay has allowed us to pursue them.”

Tuesday’s meeting was also attended by members of the town board, who sat in the front, but did not participate until pressed to do so by Bill Stubelek of Hampton Bays, who questioned whether town board members supported the Trustees in their mission.

After both Councilman Brad Bender and Councilwoman Brigid Fleming made brief comments, Supervisor Anna Throne Holst closed the meeting by reassuring the public the town board was in fact in Trustees’ corner.

“There is a recognition of a staggering amount of issues facing us with a staggering dollar amount attached to them,” said Ms. Throne-Holst. “We support the Trustees. We support the important work that needs to happen. We support the fact that one of the most important things we need to do is work together at every level of government.”

In an interview on Wednesday morning, Mr. Shultz said he was pleased by the show of support from the town board, but he added, “We’ll see it in deeds” and said the Trustees especially need the board’s support in getting the State Legislature to reaffirm their status.

Mr. Shultz said the Trustees typically send their members out in the community discuss their work with various civic groups but had decided the time was ripe to hold a more formal forum.

“The Trustees control the economic engine of this town,” he said of their authority to protect the public easement over the beaches. “There are more and more people out here who don’t know who the Trustees are. We want to educate them so when we need them to come out and support us they are up to speed.”

The crowd was largely sympathetic. “You guys are understaffed and terribly, terribly, terribly underfunded,” said Tom White, an 11th generation Southampton resident. He offered a litany of problems affecting the health of the groundwater and the bays, from leaching septic systems, to town highway department catch basins that drain harmful road runoff back into the aquifer. He added that a sharp increase in irrigation was further affecting the quality of the groundwater.

“You are doing a great job,” he concluded. “Ask us for our help and we’ll try to get you more money.”

George Lynch of Quiogue said the Trustees were in a “situation akin to war” and called for residents who were concerned about everything from beach access to preventing pollution need “to give not just our cooperation but the kind of loyalty you’d give in a war situation.”

He urged the Trustees to hold more such forums to promote their causes. “If you need the help of citizens, I believe it will be there,” he said.

Another speaker, Scott Lewis, said the town should hire a “water superintendent,” whose duties, he suggested, would be to keep the waters clean, similar to how the highway superintendent is responsible for keeping the roads clear in the winter.

On Wednesday, Mr. Shultz who had spent his morning at a meeting to discuss dredging projects with county officials and planned to spend his evening at a meeting on duck hunting regulations, said the Trustees were a decidedly grassroots form of government. “We have a lot of responsibility,” he said, “and we don’t have any staff. We do it all ourselves.”

Early in Tuesday’s forum, Mr. Schultz reviewed some of the major legal decisions that have affected the Trustees’ authority. An 1818 decision gave the proprietors, who were literally the original owners of the town, authority over common lands, and the Trustees authority over the waters. The proprietors were eventually able to claim the beaches as common land, but when they disbanded in 890 after selling off all of their assets, court ruled that the Trustees still controlled an easement over thee beaches below the high water mark, a situation that largely remains in place today.

“We’re not gunslingers. We are going after cases that are really important,” Mr. Shultz said of the Trustees’ legal battles. “But were under increased pressure and with these lawsuits, we feel we haven’t been getting coverage and people don’t know the importance of what’s at stake with their beach rights.”