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May 1, 2018 4:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Environmentalists Concerned About Sag Harbor Village Plan For Impound Yard Near Long Pond Greenbelt

May 1, 2018 5:21 PM

The Village of Sag Harbor has a new home in mind for impounded vehicles, but local environmentalists are calling on officials to tap the brakes.

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Sandra Schroeder, the village is looking to use a parcel of land adjacent to the Long Pond Greenbelt on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike as a lot for its impounded vehicles.

According to Ms. Schroeder, the lot is currently used to dump leaves picked up by the village during the fall cleanup. If turned into an impound yard, it would open up space in the village’s garage on Columbia Street, where vehicles are currently impounded, to store official village vehicles.

The mayor added that there were five impounded vehicles in the village garage as of last week.

“We don’t have room over there,” she said. “It’s an essential spot for the mechanic, two firehouses, the ambulance and the Highway Department.”

The mayor said the idea of creating an impound yard at the location has been talked about for “a couple years.” The village-owned lot, located between the Long Pond Greenbelt and the Southampton Town Recycling Center, would be paved over, and lighting and a chain-link fence would be added for protection. Ms. Schroeder added that a security camera system could be installed later on.

Some environmentalists, however, have concerns about the environmental impacts of utilizing the lot.

In a letter dated April 27, the Group for the East End stated objections to the proposed lot due to its “lack of consistency” with Southampton Town’s goals of conserving the land within the environmentally sensitive stretch of land and potentially damaging the “fragile environmental resources that characterize the Long Pond Greenbelt.”

According to letter, the Long Pond Greenbelt is located in a 5-acre residential zone, which the letter deems as the town’s “most stringent, low-density development zoning district.” It also notes how the current site acts as a “transitional buffer” between the recycling center and the remaining undeveloped land surrounding the area.

“The Greenbelt has long been recognized for its fragile environmental features, its valuable water recharge statistics, and its rare and vulnerable coastal plain pond shore community,” the letter reads. “We do not believe the proposed action should be permitted on this property because of the site’s protective zoning, documented environmental significance, and its value within the larger context of the overall preservation plan for Long Pond Greenbelt.”

Ms. Schroeder said on Tuesday that she’s heard concerns about fuel or oil leaking out from impounded vehicles that could harm the surrounding environment. She added that there are State Department of Environmental Conversation regulations in place that would determine when spill cleanups would be needed, on top of already having DEC approval to put the blacktop down at the lot.

“We’re not disturbing anything,” Ms. Schroeder said. “It looks like a dirt track area right now. We’re not talking about cutting and clearing an area to do this—we’re talking about doing it right on top of an area we already use.”

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