A meeting of the East Hampton Town Board tonight will include several hearings during which the public can weigh in: on two proposed changes to the town code, on the removal from the list of town nature preserves of three properties that were supposed to have been deeded to the town but apparently were not, and on the town’s updated franchise agreement with Cablevision.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, in conjunction with business owners, have revamped the town code section regarding licensing for home improvement contractors.
According to the proposal, “the present town licensing system for home improvement contractors is inadequate in the protection it affords to town homeowners against shoddy, incompetent work or deceptive practices involving improvement work.”
The revised code, the proposal says, is intended “to more fully protect homeowners and responsible home improvement contractors alike.”
The license requirement for home improvement contractors doing business in East Hampton has been on the books since 1977 and was amended in 2005 and 2006. In order to obtain a license, contractors must show proof of adequate liability insurance and provide information about any previous business names, liens, bankruptcies, criminal convictions, and litigation arising out of home improvement work, as well as pay a fee set by the town board.
A law now on the books exempts from the license requirement landscapers doing “grounds maintenance” or gardening, those doing simple repair or maintenance jobs, and those earning less than $500 for a job.
The law, if adopted, would apply to those doing any kind of “home maintenance” work, including gardening, but would exclude those whose gross income from their home maintenance business does not exceed $10,000 annually.
The proposal under discussion would eliminate a 2006 addition that required contractors to attend at least five hours of applicable continuing education courses each year. Instead, only first-time licensees would be required to show proof of the five classroom hours.
All subcontractors on a job, not just the general contractor, would be required to have and display a town license, under the amended code, on their vehicles.
Fueling at the Docks
A second hearing will center on proposed regulations pertaining to town docks and the fueling of boats that are tied up to them. The town does not have fueling facilities at its docks, and, rather than go to private marinas to fuel up, the operators of some vessels have fuel trucks come to the town docks to fill them up.
If adopted, the law would ban that practice at all town recreational docks and at commercial docks in Montauk, while allowing fueling from trucks at the town’s commercial dock in Three Mile Harbor. In Montauk, the town board reasoned, there are numerous private alternatives for boat fueling, but in Three Mile Harbor, larger boats that require deeper water cannot reach private marinas to fuel up.
Growing out of concerns about the liability and potential environmental damage should a fuel spill occur, enacting a regulation regarding fueling over docks has been discussed by town officials for a number of years, during the current administration and a previous one.
The town board drafted the current proposal some months ago but decided to hear public comment on it during the winter, when those affected, primarily fishermen, might be less busy and more available to voice their opinions.
Beach Plum Park
The third hearing centers on three lots in the oceanfront Beach Plum Park subdivision on Napeague, totaling about 16 acres, that were to have been deeded to the town, according to the terms of the subdivision approval.
When the eight-lot subdivision was approved in the late 1980s, the planning board found it important to preserve public beach access and required the reserved areas to be conveyed to the town and preserved in a natural state. The town recently learned that, because of a mortgage default and foreclosure, title to the properties was uncertain. A title search commissioned in the spring showed that the properties were never deeded to the town. In response, the town board has proposed deleting them from the nature preserve list.
John Jilnicki, the town attorney, said Tuesday that the town could pursue a “quiet title action” to recover its rights to the properties. The property owners “have the benefit of the approval,” he said, and the approval required that the town receive the reserved lands.
Also tonight, the board will hear public comments regarding a new 10-year franchise agreement with Cablevision that allows the cable television company to have its communications system equipment, such as cables, within public rights of way.
In return, the agreement calls for Cablevision to pay the town 5 percent of its annual local gross revenue, and to provide service within the town for residents and, without charge, connections to cable at municipal, school, and library buildings.
The company must also provide a full-time public access channel and a governmental-educational access channel (now provided on Channels 20 and 22). The agreement calls for a one-time grant from Cablevision to the town of $25,000 to support the town’s cable or telecommunications-related needs, and to provide annual payments of $40,000 to support the governmental-educational (PEG) channel for each of the contract’s 10 years. It also provides for a mandatory 10-percent discount off the monthly Cablevision service charge for senior citizens, under certain conditions.
East Hampton Town has been dedicating the entirety of its annual franchise fee from Cablevision to LTV, the public access provider here, but may change the terms of the town’s agreement with LTV when a contract with that entity comes up for renewal next year. The town board discussed the parameters of that contract during a recent work session when the results of an audit of LTV were presented.
The hearings will begin at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.