Government Briefs 11.29.12

East Hampton Town

Free Well Water Tests

    Residents with private wells who are concerned about contamination after Hurricane Sandy can have their water tested free of charge by the Suffolk County Water Authority. The tests will seek to ensure that wells have not been contaminated by bacteria, fuels, or chlorides via saltwater intrusion during the storm.

    The free testing program will run through Dec. 20, although the deadline will be extended indefinitely for residents who have not been able to return to their homes by then because of extensive storm damage. Those who wish to schedule a water test have been asked to call the water authority at 698-9500.

Tallying the Block Grant

    The proceeds of an annual federal Community Development Block Grant to East Hampton Town, which is earmarked for public service and projects that help low-income residents, will be distributed as follows, the East Hampton Town Board decided on Nov. 20: $18,070 to the Retreat, $40,000 to the Whalebone Apartments, $5,000 for work at the town’s skate park in Montauk, $5,000 to Catholic Charities, and a total of $25,500 to the East Hampton Housing Authority.

Working on Wastewater

    Information submitted by consultants who could help the town establish a comprehensive wastewater management plan is being vetted by town staff, including Kim Shaw, the natural resources director, and will be discussed by the town board at an upcoming meeting. A presentation on the various proposals, highlighting their elements, similarities, and differences, is expected to take place at a board work session on Tuesday, with an eye to making a choice as to whom to hire by mid-January.

    Councilmen Dominick Stanzione and Peter Van Scoyoc, along with Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, have supported developing an overall waste management strategy before making long-term decisions about the future of the town’s scavenger waste treatment plant.

Shoreline Brouhaha

    An oceanfront homeowner on Deforest Road in Montauk looking to shore up the coastline has offered to add sand in front of adjacent properties owned by the town to avoid causing further erosion there. A town board discussion of the request for permission to do so, however, devolved into a political squabble, leaving the homeowner unable to move forward on protecting the Deforest Road house.

    When Councilman Van Scoyoc brought the request to the board on Nov. 20, he was criticized by Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, who said that the matter should have been broached by Councilman Stanzione, as the board’s Montauk liaison, or by Ms. Quigley, the liaison to the Planning Department.

    Mr. Van Scoyoc said he had been filled in by Tom Talmage, the town engineer, to whom he is liaison, and that Mr. Talmage and other town staff could not process the application without town board approval, since placing sand on town land is involved. Ms. Quigley pointed out that Mr. Talmage’s post falls under the Planning Department’s umbrella. The homeowner’s request was tabled, as only Mr. Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Overby were willing to act on it.

For Town Code Review

    Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said last week that she has chosen several people to serve on a committee that would review the town code for the purpose of making regulations more easily enforceable, including strengthening fines. The members she would like to appoint, she said, include lawyers, “town people,” and “two outside” — Bob Kouffman and Stephen Grossman, who had suggested the idea, Rob Connolly and Patrick Gunn, town attorneys, Catherine Casey of the East Hampton Housing Authority, Alice Houseknecht, a Montauk motel owner, and Amado Ortiz, an architect. The group would work on the project for a maximum of two months, she said.

    Councilwoman Overby asked if other names could be considered and requested a written mission statement describing the committee’s charge and “the parameters of what [it] will do.” Councilman Van Scoyoc asked that the idea be tabled for further discussion, but with Councilman Stanzione and Supervisor Wilkinson’s approval, Ms. Quigley got the go-ahead.

C.P.F. Revenue Up Sharply

    Revenues for the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund totaled just over $6 million in October, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has reported. The revenue, produced by a real estate transfer tax covering all five East End towns, is almost double that of a year ago, when October receipts totaled $3.19 million. The first 10 months of 2012 have produced $50.1 million for the land-purchase fund, a 4-percent increase over the same period last year, and the total for 2012 is expected to be in the $60 million range.

    In East Hampton and Shelter Island Towns, Mr. Thiele said in a press release, there has been a “substantial increase in activity.” Revenues of $15.9 million so far this year in East Hampton, compared to $10.9 million last year, are up 46 percent.

    Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund has generated $772.62 million. The tax program, which provides money to preserve farmland, historic sites, and open space, expires in 2030.