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Feb 24, 2010 12:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board candidates square off in first debate

Feb 24, 2010 12:16 PM

Overcrowded rental homes and increasing density in Hampton Bays, and the townwide issue of illegal immigration dominated discussion at the first debate between Southampton Town Board hopefuls Bridget Fleming, a Democrat, and William Hughes, a Republican, last Thursday night, February 18.

An estimated 100 people filled the Southampton Town Senior Center on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays and listened to the candidates outline their stands on planned development districts, enforcing the town’s building codes, illegal immigration, the historic Canoe Place Inn, and other issues facing Hampton Bays. The debate was hosted by the Hampton Bays Civic Association.

Hampton Bays residents have long been complaining of overcrowding in their hamlet, the town’s most populous. A building moratorium, which targets the commercial corridor along Montauk Highway, was enacted in June 2008 so that planners could study the hamlet’s density, environmental and traffic issues. The building ban expires March 31.

Both Mr. Hughes, 59, and Ms. Fleming, 49, who are running for an open seat on the five-member Southampton Town Board in a special election set for Tuesday, March 9, said they do not support eliminating planned development districts, or PDDs, though they added that growth in Hampton Bays needs to be controlled. Mr. Hughes, a Hampton Bays resident and member of the civic association, explained that the needs of property owners have to be balanced with those of the community.

“It’s about smart growth,” said Mr. Hughes, a lieutenant with the Southampton Town Police Department who recently filed his retirement papers.

Ms. Fleming, a lawyer who lives in Noyac, said that property owners seeking to secure zoning changes from the town have to be held accountable because Hampton Bays simply cannot accommodate additional residential housing projects. She said town officials need to be very careful when considering zoning variances, citing potential damage to the environment.

“You need zero density growth at the residential level,” Ms. Fleming said.

The Southampton Town Planning Board needs to change the way it reviews projects, Ms. Fleming said, noting that she supports Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s push to begin pre-submission conferences that would get community input before the planning process begins. Such a system would also save money for developers, she said, because most must now pay for certain studies before they even know if the community opposes their projects.

Mr. Hughes stated that overcrowding and density, both of which drive up school taxes in Hampton Bays, are partially the fault of “greedy landlords” who knowingly allow too many people to live in their rental homes. He said that increased enforcement of the 2007 rental law will address some of the density issues plaguing Hampton Bays, and he proposed hiring an additional code enforcement officer to help enforce the law that was intended to crack down on overcrowded homes.

He also encouraged people to report violations when they see them. “We have to be a participant,” Mr. Hughes said. “There has to be real punishment for these violations.”

Ms. Fleming stressed that the lines of communication between town code enforcement employees and police officers need to be kept open when overcrowding complaints are filed. Still, she cautioned against having police officers do the jobs of code enforcement officers.

One debate attendee, who did not state her name, told the candidates that she was one of the few landlords who secured a permit from the town after the rental law was adopted in 2007.

Mr. Hughes said if town officials intend to fix the problem of overcrowding and illegal rentals, the law needs to be taken more seriously. “We must enforce the law on the books,” he said.

Ms. Fleming said the current version of the rental law is too broad, adding that she would like to reexamine it if elected next month. “I’d love to take a crack at the rental law,” she said.

Both candidates agreed that the Canoe Place Inn, a historic building near the Shinnecock Canal that is facing demolition, is an important part of the hamlet’s history and should, in one way or another, be preserved.

Mr. Hughes said the dilapidated inn is in serious disrepair, and the developers who now own the property, cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler of R Squared LLC in Melville, have the right to redevelop the 6-acre property. He said he hopes that the Rechlers will honor the hamlet’s history by incorporating what they can save from the 88-year-old building into the 60 two- and three-bedroom condos that they are proposing to build. The developers also want to construct a large catering hall on the property.

“Think about the revenue that we can get in from that property,” Mr. Hughes said, explaining that hamlet taxpayers will benefit from the project.

Ms. Fleming applauded the efforts of some residents to save the Canoe Place Inn, adding that they need to keep pushing to get the building recognized as a historic site by New York State. The Canoe Place Inn is already on the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities endangered list of historic sites. Ms. Fleming warned that the moratorium that has been protecting the inn is expiring soon.

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I attended this debate and witnessed the "unidentified woman" ask the question of Ms. Fleming regarding her position on hiring halls. What was so difficult about simply answering "yes" or "no" about an issue that has been in the news for so many years? Obviously Mr. Hughes has no problem stating his position without dancing around under a veiled 5-minute-long answer. After all, this is her SECOND try for office - she should have had a position on this issue since her first failed attempt. Endorsements...shemdorsements... ...more
By Uniblab (24), Water Mill on Feb 19, 10 6:01 PM
Good point! If you paid attention during the race last year, she obviously DOES have a position, but was reticent about articulating it in Hampton Bays.

During the last election the Beach Blogger spoke of meeting Ms. Throne-Holst and Ms. Fleming and referred to them as "doctrinaire Democrats," a phrase which has stuck with me as particularly appropriate.

I'd have a bit more respect for Ms. Fleming if she just stood up and stated her support for immigration amnesty rather than doing ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1741), Northampton on Feb 19, 10 9:25 PM
Give me a break, look what happened when Easthampton Town elected a retired Police Lieutenant. 30 million in the hole and still sinking. Fleming has the experience and Hughes doesn't have the knowledge or experience for this job. I would like to hear Mr hughes real opininions on hiring halls and illegal immigrants. And not the political watered downed version of an answer he gave that night. "Short fuse" Hughes will surface eventually and its going to be ugly.
By rocky (79), shampton on Feb 26, 10 7:01 PM
"It's the COPS, Stupid!", to paraphrase James Carville.

How long can candidates for Town Council continue to campaign in ignorance of the fact that we are hemorrhaging money by keeping STPD cops on the payroll beyond their twentieth year which is supposed, according to Town code, to be their final year of service?

I fear that the answer is, "Forever".



By highhatsize (3362), East Quogue on Feb 19, 10 11:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
Once again, this is your singular issue. The cops are not "supposed" to be retired on completion of 20 years, but MAY be retired on the "pleasure" of the town board.
We don't need politicians deciding when to retire someone based on who that cop may have written a ticket to.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 20, 10 12:52 PM
You persist in misreading the Town code. Absent an intervening action by the Town Council, a cop's job is over on completion of twenty years. That is to say, if the Town Council does nothing at all, his job ceases to exist after twenty years. The Town Council MAY, following the date on which his job ends, according to the Town code, offer him continued employment, but he has no right so to continue. This is quite the opposite of what you state when you say the Town Council MAY retire him.

I ...more
By highhatsize (3362), East Quogue on Feb 20, 10 1:31 PM
blah blah blah blah...blah blah blah blah,...(insert big word here), blah blah blah....20 years blah blah blah.....gestapo blah blah blah blah....blah blah blah......Kabot frame job......blah blah blah.....
By Bayman3142 (63), Southampton on Feb 20, 10 5:45 PM
How did Kabot get into this discussion?
By Uniblab (24), Water Mill on Feb 23, 10 7:49 AM
Just for the record Ms. Fleming. Does your husband, who you say is a local contractor in your ads use illegals? Is that why the question is so hard to answer?
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 20, 10 4:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
Was she ever asked that question?
By Frank Wheeler (1741), Northampton on Feb 20, 10 7:22 AM
1 member liked this comment
Wasted time and energy on the "immigration" issue. Both candidates and all local officials have stated that its not something they can act on. Its like having an opinion on an California's fiscal policy. We here have nothing to do with it. I asked a question that was not answered except by a vocal local resident who felt fit to respond from her position as the next questioner. My question was how do both candidates reconcile their views on housing with the needs of next gereration and workforse ...more
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Feb 20, 10 7:29 AM
Problem with the 2 bedroom apartment Bob, is that when that toddler goes to school, it will cost $21,000.00 per year to educate him. I am quite sure that the rent ( and associated property tax) will not come anywhere near what the taxes needed to do that are.
There is also no doubt that your family could have found something affordable and closer than Holbrook.
And yes, the water, the beaches, and open spaces ARE important. We live in a suburban/rural area. Not Queens. It is what has ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 20, 10 12:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
BobS> - "Both candidates and all local officials have stated that its not something they can act on."

Yet Southampton Mayor Mark Epley seems to have found a way to "act on."
By Frank Wheeler (1741), Northampton on Feb 21, 10 1:21 AM
Sorry Bob - was there a response to the Hiring Hall comment there? I was glazing over trying to weed through your verbose attempt at an answer.
By Uniblab (24), Water Mill on Feb 23, 10 7:50 AM
Well said sir.
By tenn tom (169), remsenburg on Feb 20, 10 10:37 AM
To highhatsize-the police are not an issue in this election. Get over it.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Feb 20, 10 4:25 PM
Ok let me explain. Its called an economy of size. The math you both just quoted is not correct. If you have 1,000 students in a system you divide the cost by that number. That is your cost per student. If you add one student to that system you do not increase the cost by the previous cost per student because there are few exra costs for one student. In this equation you would actually lower the cost per student by adding my grandson. The point is here that what you are basing your opinion on is ...more
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Feb 20, 10 6:27 PM
Bob,
Nothing personal here. I just wanted to point out that the "community" of the East End ( and all of Long Island) is primarily that of single family housing. The model you state, basically that of a young couple having a starter apartment is fine. But the problem comes in when that young couple can't, or decide not to purchse a home. That small 2 bedroom apartment then supplies 2 or 3 kids to the school district without the tax base. I am a new guy, as I've only lived in town for 30 years. ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 20, 10 8:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
Regarding the debate in Hampton Bays, I came on time and could not find a seat. There were not 50 people but 119. I took the count from my standing position. Hampton Bays is a driving force in the Southampton Community.

Secondly, regarding immigration, Mr. Hughes took an myopic approach, playing to the emotions of the crowd. He is not for a hiring hall anywhere, and we must assume that includes any hall erected by a private enterprise. He obviously prefers to see the immigrants congregating ...more
By Phaedrus (8), Southampton on Feb 21, 10 8:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Phaedrus says:
"He is not for a hiring hall anywhere, and we must assume that includes any hall erected by a private enterprise. He obviously prefers to see the immigrants congregating ... more on our streets in large numbers, loitering all day long."

He said he is not in favor of publicly funded hiring halls. The rest is your speculation and editorializng, which you go on to criticize the reporter for doing

It was quite clear the Ms. Fleming was indeed "timid" about staing ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 21, 10 9:53 AM
The obvious answer is for all 7-Elevens to expand and create hiring halls all over Long Island. The 7-Eleven owners should be compenstated by collecting a percentage of the workers pay.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Feb 21, 10 11:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
Immigration is a topic that is brought out during each election in Southampton by the Republicans in order to keep the conversation of the real issues.
The irony to this is that the immigrants are hired by many Republican business owners who make huge profits off untaxed, uninsured labor and undercut other businesses who pay their taxes and insurance.
It is time that we have the business owners sit at this table!
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Feb 21, 10 1:16 PM
Once again SHNative says:

"The irony to this is that the immigrants are hired by many Republican business owners who make huge profits off untaxed, uninsured labor and undercut other businesses "

Immigration is an issue that is of concern to most residents of this town. Unless of course you live on Gin Lane and don't have to be concerned about overcrowded houses next door.

Now when are you going to back up your allegations and take some pics of these "Republican" businesses ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 21, 10 2:40 PM
3 members liked this comment
Interesting so many posts are about a topic our town board candidates have no control over; immigration. Let's discuss the issues that have an affect on us and the candidates can do something about.
By Bayman1 (295), Sag Harbor on Feb 21, 10 3:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
So you want me to provide pictures of Republican businesses who hire immigrants. If I did provide pictures of Republicans, hiring, housing & representing immigrants you would not believe it. So what is the point?
The FACT IS….immigrants are being hired, housed and represented by Republican businesses, that is why they are here.
I do give a lot of credit to our GOP businesses and machine for doing this and then placing blame on the Democrats….it is truly impressive.
Bayman is corrrect, ...more
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Feb 21, 10 4:56 PM
Psssst, SHNative -- don't look now but you've been called, and revealed to hold nothing more than a busted flush.

But what I would like to know is if you are suggesting that only "Republican businesses" hire, house and represent(???) immigrants? Or that -- as it sounds -- only Republicans own businesses?

Of course you, and other Fleming supporters, would like to move past the immigration issue -- it's a loser for you, and to continue to insist that the Town Council candidates ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1741), Northampton on Feb 22, 10 10:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
FW-
Instead of repeating trite quotations why not deal directly with the claim? Tell us precisely how the Southampton Town Board can affect the immigration policies and enforcement of the United States government. That is the question at hand, not hiring halls, not code enforcement.
By VOS (1022), WHB on Feb 22, 10 11:29 PM
VOS: you talk about "trite quotations," yet you don't get it. It has nothing to do with the United States Government.

You also don't "get" the relationship between the Town Board and Code Enforcement; one sets policy, the other discharges it -- and Code Enforcement can address illegal housing situations caused by over-crowding of undocumented immigrants.

Or don't they have such a thing in Westhampton Beach?
By Frank Wheeler (1741), Northampton on Feb 23, 10 12:56 AM
Immigration is an issue for the federal government. what we can do locally is call out the lies told by anti-immigrant fear and hate-mongers.
By yearrounder (208), Southampton on Feb 24, 10 10:05 AM
At least you had an chance to ask a question. How about the Pastor that wanted to ask a question and Ms. Green said he could not. In a debate to think that a person is denied their freedom of speech to ask a question to people running for public office. And the reporter that was there and saw it all, not to make mention of that in this online piece. Is it not important enough to let the people know that someone was told you can't ask a question. Who decides what questions can be asked and not ...more
By Jr (7), Sag Harbor on Feb 22, 10 11:35 AM
My understanding was that the Pastor's question had nothing to do with anything within the scope of the responsibility of the Town Board, therefore it was considered not appropriate.
By bb (754), Hampton Bays on Feb 25, 10 9:44 AM
Hiring hall? I hate to sound like a conservative, since I usually don't but on this issue, my feelings are clear. Round them up, put them on a plane, and bring them back to Central America; they are here illegally anyway. If it makes the liberals happier, we can put a "hiring hall' decal on the side of the airplane.
By realdeal (23), Southampton on Feb 22, 10 11:51 AM
For someone who hates to sound like a conservative, you are doing a great job of it. Thanks, Glenn.
By yearrounder (208), Southampton on Feb 24, 10 10:06 AM
The questions revolved around the issue of over crowded housing and the fact that each extra child is costing the public $21000 to educate annually. If a three bedroom house is holding three families instead of one, that's illegal, whether the occupants are citizens or not.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Feb 22, 10 11:51 AM
The question was a moral question to both candidates concerning there stand on abortion. To see how they view life, to see their character. This question was denied and civil rights were put under foot.
By Jr (7), Sag Harbor on Feb 22, 10 12:12 PM
In other words, a completely B.S. question regarding a matter that has absolutely no bearing on anything even vaguely related to the Town Board. It's not even like there's an issue with a "family planning clinic" being build somewhere in the Town!

I suspect that "the Paster" in question was the same one who used to lead picket lines around a certain Ladies Night in Hampton Bays 20 years ago.
By Frank Wheeler (1741), Northampton on Feb 22, 10 12:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Terry nothing personal. Well that's not true I do take it personal. The fact that you have lived here for 30 years (to my 25) is making the my point. You want and insist on single family dwellings and you zone that way. That's called exculsionary zoning. Look up Mt Laurel New Jersey. It is morally, ethically and constituionally wrong to zone people out. It is a short term, feel good, build my only asset (real eastate) because I don't really care about the future, type of mentality. It has gotten ...more
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Feb 22, 10 6:50 PM
One more thing Terry, I ran out of space. I used to sell real estate before I owned my own business. If you were a real estate salesperson or broker and made the statement you should move to Riverside etc. it would be grounds to revoke your licence. America has fought hard to fight against segregation and repression. Segregating people by economics is still unconstitutional. Look it up Te...... what ever your name is.
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Feb 22, 10 6:57 PM
The name is Terry Flanagan and I have never been secretive as to who I am.
Reread my post, I INVITED you and yours to the north end of town, and I did so with postitive feelings. Your claim that the best your kids could do was in Holbrook now appears slightly disengenuous.
I DON"T sell real estate, never have. But common sense tells me if I am looking for a place to live it would not be on either Gin or Further Ln, as I can't afford either.
I am not insisting on anything and I have ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 22, 10 9:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
Well said Terry!
By Bayman1 (295), Sag Harbor on Feb 23, 10 8:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
27east-why no story on last nights debate in Flanders?
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Feb 23, 10 6:05 PM
The point is Terry that its "steering". That is the term used by the state to discribe suggesting people buy sell, or rent with consideration of a parties social or ethnic ilk. That's the state. The prevailing attitude of single family dwellings only disregards the market for next generation housing whether its rentals or homes for sale. That would mean smaller building lots and cheaper rentals. If you believe that there is no market for that than I get that. You feel that our kids should go away ...more
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Feb 24, 10 9:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
Bob,
What is apparent, is that you view the world with the idea that we owe you and your kids something. If you are even THINKING that anything I said about housing has to do with "social or ethnic ilk" you are so very wrong. My thoughts on housing are all based on economic issues and thats all.
I CHOSE to live on the East End because of what it is. I CHOSE to live in Flanders, because I got the most bang for my buck by doing so.
In all seriousness, if you want Garden apartments, ...more
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 24, 10 12:20 PM
Bob, when you migrated to the east end, where did you come from and why did you move here? Could it have been for the open space, the good schools, less development, no apartment buildings, economic opportunity or a better quality of life for your kids? By your comments you seem to want to destroy the very reasons most people live here..Don't like the way the zoning is? Perhaps you should lookfor another place to call home.
By bigfresh (3091), north sea on Feb 24, 10 12:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Again-why no report on 2nd debate held Monday night?
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Feb 25, 10 8:50 AM
And also, where's the report on the third debate, held last night, Feb 24?
By Turkey Bridge (1773), Quiogue on Feb 25, 10 11:07 AM
Seems to be here, George: http://www.27east.com/story_detail.cfm?id=263247.
By Frank Wheeler (1741), Northampton on Feb 25, 10 3:26 PM
My motives for coming here 25 years ago was to raise my family in a wonderful place. I want the same for them. I don't want any entilements from the govt. I just would not ignore the real market need to have the next gereration live and work here. You all can twist it around however it makes you feel good but the point is I'm not alone. Many I speak to would like this issue at least addressed. We are going round and round so lets just stop here. My vision for a sustainable well balanced community ...more
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Feb 25, 10 11:53 AM
If you had your way Bob, this would no longer be a "wonderful place." It cracks me up when folks move here becase they love it,then try to change it into the very place they just left! Sorry your kids had to move back up the island to find affordable housing, perhaps they should rent for a while and save up for a down payment like most of us here have done.
By bigfresh (3091), north sea on Feb 25, 10 1:01 PM
Its amazing that there ie even a debate about what we should or shouldn't do with the illegals. When I was in school "ILLEGAL" meant illegal. Did something in the definition change or have we become such a bunch of wimps that we are afraid that if we are not politically correct some one or some group might call us a name? If American kids are skateboarding or hanging out at the 7/11 the cops have no problem chasing them away. Illegals by the truckloads hangin out making it impossible for our ...more
By Vbalchunas (11), Southampton on Feb 26, 10 8:38 AM
Let's look at the facts:
[1] Bridget Fleming's background is in law -- DA's office, welfare fraud, mediation, local practice. Bill Hughes's background is in the police and the military, where it's all about orders and discipline. Seems like Ms. Fleming's far better suited than Mr. Hughes to the Town Board, with its give-and-take, compromise and debate.
[2] Bill Hughes says he's a conservative, but he's not endorsed by the Conservative Party. How come?
[3] Bill Hughes is a policeman, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1773), Quiogue on Mar 1, 10 3:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hey, guess what, folks? The Southampton Press endorsed Bridget Fleming for Town Board in today's issue, and also printed seven letters to the editor favoring Fleming versus two for Bill Hughes. You can't take it to the bank, but when you add this to all the other endorsements Ms. Fleming has received, it's got to mean something.
By Turkey Bridge (1773), Quiogue on Mar 4, 10 6:44 PM
Adding one more, the Independent newspaper has also endorsed Bridget Fleming. It just goes on and on.
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Mar 5, 10 9:35 PM
Remnants, area rugs, rolls in stock