New Year, but Old Problems Still Remain

    The new year will bring no respite from thorny issues, if the first meetings of the East Hampton Town Board in 2012 are an indication.
    Several residents of Springs spoke to the board at a meeting last Thursday, urging members to keep the issue of illegal housing in that hamlet on the front burner.
    Carol Buda said efforts to enforce the town housing code had surged some time ago after residents brought the issue to the fore, but “then quite suddenly there was a change in attitude. Either we need new attention to code enforcement or new and more stringent codes,” she said.
    Single-family residences with more than one family living in them result in a crowded Springs School, she said, and rising school taxes.
    “To be honest, we now have 12-month group housing” as opposed to just summer groupers, Walter Noller said. “As we overwhelm those septic systems, that goes into the aquifer, and it affects everybody out here.”
    The problem “doesn’t appear to be addressed to the satisfaction of we who live in Springs,” Fred Weinberg said.
    “Is there a way that the town can effectively implement a plan and affect the situation?” asked Lawrence Mayer.
    Supervisor Bill Wilkinson replied that the board had solicited data about housing throughout the town and “gathered people from different disciplines . . . to try to understand the numbers.”
    “The numbers have been vetted,” he said, and distributed to the various citizens advisory committees “so that everyone is on the same page. We have now gotten to a point where there is unanimity on . . . Springs has got an issue, and we’ve got to figure out what to do.”
    “It’s enforcement, it’s zoning, it’s do we continue to build on vacant lots?” Mr. Wilkinson said. “We’ve been very, very passionate about [community preservation fund] purchases focused in Springs.”
    “The fact that Springs has high school taxes has been known for 26 years,” Mr. Mayer said. “It’s just gotten worse because nobody’s doing anything. Can that become a priority?” he asked the board.
    “It has been a priority,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “Now we go to phase two.”
    At a board work session on Tuesday in Montauk, a discussion of a proposal to ban fuel deliveries to boats at town docks in Montauk from trucks, while allowing it to continue at Three Mile Harbor, had board members hashing out the issues but coming to no conclusion. A hearing was recently held on the proposed regulation.
    Among the considerations are the environment, the town’s liability should a spill occur, and the economic effects on the fuel truck operators, owners of marinas with fuel docks, and commercial fishermen.
    The town’s fisheries advisory committee had had a “vigorous” discussion of the matter, Councilman Dominick Stanzione reported, and recommended that no action be taken.
    “This is a huge political issue, especially in the hamlet of Montauk,” Mr. Wilkinson said.