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Jul 13, 2011 9:35 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Emotions Run High At Town Hall Meeting On Noyac Bay Avenue Parking Restrictions

Jul 13, 2011 10:33 AM

Emotions ran high at a packed Southampton Town Board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, when more than 25 people spoke about a proposal to repeal parking restrictions on a town road in Noyac that ends at a public beach.

The public hearing was the third time the board has heard from community members in what has become an ongoing saga over what opponents say is a battle to stop a group of residents from privatizing the public beach at the end of Noyac Bay Avenue. The Town Board recently lifted some parking restrictions on about 100 feet of the road, which officials said is room for a handful of cars to park. But that wasn’t good enough for some residents, who would like to see parking rights restored to the entire roadway.

Members of the Northampton Colony Association—which neighbors the beach—have said the parking restrictions are needed because of burglaries and vandalism at their homes and to their boats, moored in the neighboring Northampton Colony Yacht Club. They argued that the town shouldn’t allow parking on the road because it’s not a safe body of water for people to swim in, and allowing parking only encourages its use as a bathing beach. The group successfully lobbied the Town Board in 2009 to prohibit parking on the road.

Ralph Christian, a member of the association, said the Town Board did nothing wrong in restricting parking two years ago. He also said that association members often maintain the property by picking up trash in the area. “We are aware that we do not own the road,” he said. “But we feel a sense of ownership. We feel a sense of responsibility. Why? Because it’s where we live. The same sense of responsibility that you have for where you live.”

Meanwhile, some Noyac and Sag Harbor residents want the Town Board to overturn the restrictions entirely. They say the association’s claims about crime are unsubstantiated, and they point out that most other roads in town that end at a bay beach do not have parking restrictions on them.

The issue touched veteran Southampton Town Trustee Jon Semlear. His voice broke slightly while delivering an impassioned plea to Town Board members to lift parking restrictions entirely and preserve easy access to the beach.

“If we keep giving up, there’s going to be a point where it’s all private,” said Mr. Semlear, a Trustee for 18 years. “And it’s common lands. It’s the only wildness left in this town—our underwater lands. It’s free to everyone.”

Since 2009, “no parking” signs have dotted both sides of the road, prohibiting parking on the road between May 15 and September 15. That restriction was amended last month by the board to allow parking on the road 100 feet back from the beach. The change represented a compromise, Town Board members said, and was one that Northampton Colony Association residents said they agreed to.

In a surprise move during a public hearing last month, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst called for a separate public hearing on a measure to eliminate the restrictions entirely and allowing parking on the entire roadway, catching residents of the Northampton Colony Association off guard. “We had an agreement before we came in here,” said Larry Tullio, the commodore of the yacht club. “That agreement was trashed.”

Town Board members at Tuesday’s hearing were split on the issue. Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi criticized Ms. Throne-Holst’s change of heart—she originally voted for imposing the restrictions in 2009—and adding that while he is supportive of access to public beaches, he also sees the need for parking restrictions on roads that end at the water. He said there are other roads that end at ocean or bay beaches in town that have parking restrictions. But Town Public Transportation and Traffic Safety Director Tom Neely said there was only one other road that ends at a bay beach in town that has a parking restriction, and that was limiting parking to people with beach permits.

Ms. Throne-Holst said she was concerned about setting a precedent that would allow other neighborhoods to ask for restrictions on similar roads: “This is simply about whether we, as the legislative body of the Town of Southampton, should restrict the parking and, as such, easy access … to the waterfront.”

The Town Board voted to close the public hearing with a 10-day written comment period.

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This is a classic conflict between the public good and private privilege. How could the Town Council EVER have come down on the side of the presumptuous, selfish homeowners? The beach environment is the most precious uplifting, calming, exhilarating natural resource that we have out here. To restrict access to it at the request of elitist abutting property owners who don't want the hoi polloi polluting "their" beach is a shocking error in judgment (or a conscious concession of special perquisites ...more
By highhatsize (3564), East Quogue on Jul 13, 11 11:55 AM
If there is no legitimate TRAFFIC RELATED issue, there should be no parking restrictions, as apparently there are nowhere else in the town, with the exception of a single location which only restricts parking to beach sticker holders. It appears that the board made a mistake in imposing these restrictions and is correct in rolling them back.

I question why Nuzzi is so reluctant to right this wrong or if he is just using this for a cheap politically inspired opportunity to take another ...more
By VOS (1089), WHB on Jul 13, 11 12:04 PM
3 members liked this comment
Sorry Commodore, you're sunk!!
By bigfresh (3500), north sea on Jul 13, 11 5:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Commodore and company come off as a sorry little bunch grasping at any possible straw to keep the people off "their" beach. First they claimed vandalism and other criminal activity. Doesn't work -- you deal with crime by police protection, not parking rules. Then they argued that the area is not really a beach. Doesn't work -- the people's right of access applies to the waterfront, whether it's a beach or not. Then they cited the dangerous channel there as precluding swimmming. Doesn't ...more
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Jul 13, 11 8:22 PM
3 members liked this comment
The beach should be for EVERYONE! Not a select few. As a lifelong SH resident. When the village took away Wyandanch, Old Town, Cryder and Halsey Neck because a board member named Joe McC,, well you know him, couldn't swim at his beloved beach because to many SURFERS from all over town parked there due to a great sandbar. Everyone lost! Yeah one old board member f**ked it up for all those in Southampton that pay taxes to the school system and the like.

They should be and still be ashamed ...more
By ridethetruthwave (15), southampton on Jul 13, 11 9:11 PM
2 members liked this comment
Councilman Chris Nuzzi was the biggest dissapointment at the meeting. He clearly has no idea what the concept of beach access is all about. Shame on you Mr. Nuzzi.
By WestsideWalt (8), sag harbor on Jul 13, 11 10:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
You cannot block access to the public beach. It is a town road that ends at the waterfront which is a prescious resource for all to enjoy. The trustees through the Dongan Patent work hard to guarentee accesss to what is our right to the water and restricting accessability to the waterfront creates a dangerous precedent. The folks in North Hampton can put up with it for a the few months of summer, then its all theres for the other 9 months when almost no one visits the beaches. The beaches are for ...more
By North Sea Citizen (481), North Sea on Jul 14, 11 6:31 AM
2 members liked this comment
Nothing like a parking issue in the hamptons to cause ''emotions to run high'' hahahaha. Mess with the parking, but DO NOT mess with my 3:30 high tea.
By HSA (68), southampton on Jul 15, 11 7:35 AM
ex post facto.

This planet beongs to ALL of us.

Not just a few rich, elitist, secondary homeowners.
By Mr. Z (10153), North Sea on Jul 16, 11 12:34 AM
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