Environmental Coalition Releases Survey Responses

The East Hampton Environmental Coalition this week posted the results of a questionnaire sent to the five candidates for East Hampton Town Board quizzing them on environmental issues.

Questions covered issues including the candidates' backgrounds and environmental outlooks and specifics such as flood-zone planning, dark skies rules, and dealing with climate change.

Larry Cantwell, who is running unopposed on the Democratic, Independence, and Working Families lines for East Hampton Town supervisor, said that town "environmental regulation and enforcement is the front line defense for abuse of local laws designed to protect the environment and health, safety, and welfare of the community. The most important change is simply to make a policy decision that this is a priority."

Looking over the responses, a few other gems emerge, such as this from Mr. Stanzione in response to a question about government regulations:

We must not let earnest and unbridled enthusiasm for specific ends permit us to accidentally
support the failure of our larger freedoms. Threats of heavy-handed enforcement, arrogance
by self-righteous officials, for increasingly draconian zoning codes, may breed contempt for
valuable and sincere community efforts and encourage revolt against its authority. This
drama can significantly increase the cost of further coercive enforcement. The American
Revolution stands for rejection of any kind of tyranny—even that built upon good intention.
Our Constitution protects the people from tyranny and it is supreme. Our Town code has,
honestly, enough confusing, duplicitous language within it, to keep an ever growing gaggle
of lawyers employed. It seems to have been written to keep them employed. It is, to be fair,
not the most perfect document to hold-up to the bright light of day—it is alas, all we have.
We should endeavor to enable the code to be clearer and more useful in pursuit of our ever
emerging public policy goals---making our environment and our economy one idea.

On the role of government, Mr. Potter had this to say:

In East Hampton, groundwater is the critical issue. We have over $42,000,000 in CPF
Funds uncommitted, with over $2,000,000 coming in a month… Vacant land prices are
climbing but still reasonable. We should aggressively spend that money, prioritize
outreach, push through to closings, expeditiously with willing sellers. Enough footdragging.
Prioritize farmland (in the law), aquifer protection, and pond, lake and
harbors. Where appropriate, begin the move to buying properties with minimal
improvements if they are close to the water. We must always spend wisely and
carefully. The town board should not be afraid to be actively involved, should not be
afraid to push its acquisition agenda, once that has been established with the
committee. It is largely a fiction that a strong interest by the town board leads to
favoritism. Without such an interest, the program languishes.

Mr. Potter also took on the question of coastal policy:

Longer term, we need to grapple with the idea of “losing” development, the idea
that on an eroding coastline, if we are not going to seawall the South Fork, many
beachfront properties will have to be abandoned, there is nowhere for them to
go. It is unclear at this time if there will be financial recompense. If a choice has
to be made between public beaches and the natural shoreline environment, I
believe the public rights come first. Unless sea level rise stops. If anything, the
rate seems likely to increase.

PDFs of the actual answers provided by Larry Cantwell, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, Fred Overton, Job Potter, and Councilman Dominick Stanzione can be downloaded at http://nylcvef.org/our-work/civic-engagement/long-island/east-hampton/east-hampton-2013-candidate-environmental-survey/