The East Hampton Town Board narrowly approved legislation overhauling the way taxis do business on Tuesday.
The new law, which had been the subject of a contentious Town Board public hearing earlier this year, would require taxi cab drivers to be licensed and would entail background checks and fingerprint submission requirements. The board approved the law at its work session this week.
The Town Board has made amendments to the law since a number of people from the taxi industry complained about various sections of it at the hearing. An earlier version would have had the Licensing Review Board in charge of issuing licenses to cab drivers. Now, they will only review complaints. The licensing will remain in the Town Clerk’s Office. The Town Board also struck down a section that dictated the age and mileage of cars. The board also changed license and permit renewal rate to every two years instead of annually, as was proposed in an earlier version of the bill.
Mike Heather, owner of Moko Taxi, stressed concerns about the wait time involved for obtaining background information for cab drivers. He emphasized it’s a short season for the industry and said the law was being “rammed” down his throat.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and Councilwoman Sylvia Overby voted in favor of the bill. Councilman Dominick Stanzione and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc abstained from the vote.
The Town Board revisited a discussion on whether the Montauk Brewing Company should have to pay $45,000 to cover fees in lieu of required parking.
The board narrowly approved allowing the business, which is run by three local men, to license with the town to use some municipal spaces at the Lion’s Field parking across the street from their business. They are three spaces shy of the number they’re required to have under Town Code and each space is valued at $15,000. Businesses that don’t have the required amount of spaces must pay a fee for the spaces they cannot provide to a fund that is earmarked for purchasing land for public parking.
Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley have argued in favor of waiving the fees for the three men, saying it’s a way the town could incentivize a startup business and keep young people local. Mr. Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby have argued that approach isn’t equitable to those who’ve paid the fee in the past.
Mr. Wilkinson, Ms. Quigley and Mr. Stanzione voted to permit the business to license with the town and hold off on paying any parking fees for three years, at which point the $45,000 bill would be amortized over the next five years. Mr. Van Scoyoc voted against the resolution. Ms. Overby abstained.
Viking Fleet To Gann Road?
The Town Board is considering a proposal by the Viking Fleet, a Montauk company that owns recreational fishing and ferry boats, to lease a town dock on Gann Road on Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton in an area that is primarily used by commercial fishing boats.
The company wants to create a recreational charter fishing boat that could carry a maximum of 20 people and would operate only between April and June, according to Captain Carl Forsberg. The company pitched the same plan to the Town Board last year.
No votes were taken. Mr. Van Scoyoc raised the issue that the area has primarily been designated for commercial fishing and that parking is limited at the site. Ms. Quigley, Mr. Stanzione and Mr. Wilkinson said they’d be willing to consider the business to operate this year as a trial run.
Town Sells Barge
The Town Board voted to sell its barge to the Town of Islip.
The barge was purchased by the town to renovate town docks after they fell into disrepair in the early 1990s. But the barge hasn’t really been used since 2009, according to Chief Harbormaster Ed Michels.
Islip will pay $85,000 for it, Budget Officer Len Bernard said. The barge was appraised at somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000.
Mr. Wilkinson, Ms. Quigley and Mr. Stanzione voted for the sale. Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc didn’t cast a vote.
Coastal Erosion Committee
The Town Board was split on a recommendation by its coastal erosion committee to permit properties in Montauk to temporarily drop rock to fortify against storms.
Mr. Wilkinson, Ms. Quigley and Mr. Stanzione were in favor of allowing hard structures on a temporary basis. Mr. Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby were not willing to do so, noting the committee had proposed 10 other recommendations for shoring up Montauk.
It would take four votes for a landowner to get approval to bring in rocks to a property, according to Town Attorney John Jilnicki.