Government Briefs 04.04.13

East Hampton Town

Louse and Lazy: Much Debris
    Cleanup efforts led by the East Hampton Town Trustees last week at Louse Point in Springs and Lazy Point on Napeague yielded a large amount of debris that was hauled away from the beaches and boat-launching areas. Deborah Klughers, a trustee, reported to the town board on Tuesday that 13,500 pounds of debris had been collected at Lazy Point, not including fishing ropes, traps, and the like taken separately to a gear drop-off at the Montauk recycling center. At Louse Point, the total was more than 5,800 pounds.
    Ms. Klughers, before making her report, asked the town board to guess how much debris had been collected but was unable to engage either Supervisor Bill Wilkinson or Councilwoman Theresa Quigley. “I don’t play guessing games,” both said.

Barge, Unmoved Since ’09, to Be Sold

    The town will sell a barge with a crane on it that was purchased to enable dock and piling repair to be done in-house, without hiring marine contractors. The barge hasn’t moved since 2009, Ed Michels, the head of the East Hampton Town Marine Patrol, said at a board meeting on Tuesday, and is costing several thousand dollars a year in upkeep. The barge was last used by town workers to complete work that would have cost between $250,000 and $300,000 if hired out, Mr. Michels said. It was purchased for $225,000, and so has paid for itself, he said.
    Staffing cutbacks since 2009 have left the town without a full, qualified crew to run the barge and crane. And, said Mr. Michels and Jim Bennett, a crane operator, the crane itself is adequate only for work in Three Mile Harbor; it is not strong enough to install pilings, for instance, in the Montauk bottomland.
    According to Len Bernard, the town budget officer, the town still owes $140,000 on the barge, which has been appraised at $80,000 to $100,000. The Town of Islip has offered to purchase it for $85,000, and the Suffolk Department of Public Works is a potential buyer as well.
    The sale was approved by the board in a split vote along party lines, with the three Republicans — Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, and Councilman Dominick Stanzione — giving the go-ahead.

Go-Ahead on Taxicab Licenses

    Also approved in a 3-to-2 vote on Tuesday was revised legislation governing taxicab licenses. The board had held a hearing in January on the law, which was tweaked after its implementation last year, and has made minor changes to several drafts since then. On Tuesday, board members agreed to have the town clerk continue to issue the licenses, with problems or reviews handed to the licensing review board, and to change the license term from one to two years. Requirements for driver background checks, and that cab companies seeking town licenses maintain an office in East Hampton Town, remain.
    Councilwoman Quigley moved for the vote, which was seconded by Mr. Wilkinson, without having a resolution written up. Mr. Wilkinson had said during the Tuesday session that he would be absent from a formal board meeting tonight, at which resolutions are normally brought to a vote.
    Although feedback on the law is still coming in — on Tuesday from the owner of Moko Taxi and his attorney — board members learned that the clerk’s office already has 20 requests on hold for new taxi licenses and has done three renewals, and they expressed a desire to get the legislation in place before the summer season. However, both Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc asked that the vote wait until the board had a written draft in hand, but Ms. Quigley kept her resolution on the table. Mr. Van Scoyoc, along with Councilman Stanzione, abstained. Ms. Overby voted yes but expressed concerns about voting on unwritten resolutions.

New Zoning Committee Proposed

    With numerous businesses in the town on land now zoned for residential use and labeled “pre-existing, nonconforming” — a designation that allows them to continue but not to expand — the question of whether changes to the town code are needed should be examined, Councilwoman Quigley said Tuesday.
    She proposed forming a committee with three business owners and three “non-business owners — neighbor types,” to be assisted by a town attorney, Planning Department staff, building inspector, and perhaps natural resources staff as consultants. “There has been constant complaints that it creates problems for businesses,” Ms. Quigley said of the pre-existing, nonconforming status created after zoning has been changed. “This is an issue that has many elements.”
    The group should look at “all perspectives, including neighbors who would be impacted should something happen,” Ms. Quigley said. And, she said, “a long-term effect has to be the effect on our economy and the ability of people to make a living.” Councilman Stanzione said he was in “general agreement with the idea,” but that the committee “has to be really diverse” and “committed to . . . reconciling the long-term planning solutions.”
    Noting that the town already has a business committee, and a budget and finance advisory committee, Councilwoman Overby suggested giving those groups the task, but Ms. Quigley disagreed.