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Jul 27, 2010 4:27 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

State rejects towns' offer to settle fishing license case; fall trial expected.

Jul 27, 2010 4:27 PM

State officials have rejected an offer by the Town Trustees in Southampton and East Hampton to settle the lawsuit they and several other Long Island municipalities brought against the government over its saltwater fishing license requirement.

According to an attorney for the Southampton Town Trustees, the towns offered to take on the permitting of saltwater fishing within town waters and pass along basic angler information to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, fulfilling a federal requirement that was cited as the primary catalyst for the state license law. The town would continue to sell state-issued licenses to any residents who choose to fish outside of Trustee-controlled waters, which would include most of Peconic Bay and Shelter Island Sound, the ocean outside Shinnecock and Moriches inlets, and all the waters surrounding Montauk.

But the state’s lawyers rejected the proposal, Southampton Town Deputy Town Attorney Joseph Lombardo said this week.

“We said we’d do the permitting for town waters, and if our residents still want to buy a state license, they could still do so,” Mr. Lombardo said. “I’m sure many people would choose to buy the state license if it continues to be required outside town waters.”

Mr. Lombardo said that the other towns involved in the lawsuit—Oyster Bay, Brookhaven, Southold and Shelter Island—have said they would be willing to make the same offer to the state.

State Supreme Court Justice Patrick A. Sweeney, who is presiding over the case, has said he would convene a trial in early fall, but would prefer the two sides to settle the issue before it reaches that costly step.

A call to Department of Environmental Conservation attorney Mark Sanza seeking comment for this story was not returned.

Mr. Lombardo would not speculate as to why the state rejected the offer, other than to say that the state stands to lose some federal money it now gets for each license sold.

“There’s got to be a solution that allows the [state] to achieve their objectives and allows the towns to achieve their objectives,” Mr. Lombardo said. “We’re not looking for a scorched earth. If we’re both reasonable, we should be able to find a solution.”

New York State instituted its saltwater license requirement in October 2009, estimating the licenses would generate between $2 million and $3 million a year at a time when the state is facing billions in deficits. The state also receives matching funds, about $2 per license it sells, as well as other grants, because the license regulation meets federal registration requirements. The money raised by the license is put into a statewide environmental account.

Last week, the state announced that the influx of funding from the sale of licenses is allowing it to revive an artificial reef program and rebuild several public boat launches, the first programs it has tied directly to the license funding. The projects were mostly made possible because the DEC was able to use money from the license fees to hire back employees whose salaries had been previously cut from the state budget.

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geez, just pay the $10 bucks already. seems like the funds are being put go good use. i am sure the town has better things to do with the taxpayers money.
By fishy (91), East Hampton on Jul 28, 10 2:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
The DEC says that because the initial outcry was about more money leaving the Island to Albany never to be seen again. I would like specifics from them as to exactly what boat launches are being rebuilt. An Artificial Project is a convenient place to say the money is going.... as it can't be seen!
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jul 28, 10 11:56 PM
The Towns are in such financial disarray but they are finding the money to enact this lawsuit. WTF???? What a WASTE of our tax payer's money.
By Sag Native (54), East Hampton on Jul 28, 10 9:02 PM
I don't know about East Hampton, but Southampton has been handling this suit "in house" meaning Assistant Town Attorney Joe Lombardo is representing them. This costs the Town virtually nothing more as his salary is already in the budget.
I suggest looking into how your Town is handling this matter, then you can speak from an informed position.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jul 28, 10 11:51 PM
so he has nothing better to do with his time?
By fishy (91), East Hampton on Jul 29, 10 10:33 AM
What a complete waste of gov money having to spend money and go to court when it has been our right all along. The east end does not receive its fair share of money that goes upto Albany or Hauppauge yet the pigs want more. Its got to stop. There should be another means of settling disputes between givt agencies. Personally I think from waht I have heard about people who work in and around the DEC thta the agency needs a big overhaul
By North Sea Citizen (555), North Sea on Jul 29, 10 6:59 AM
The problem is the money was not being put to good use.It was a way to fix the budget. The money was spent before they even had it. There were no plans to help the saltwater fishing with this money. It was just a tax on fishing.
By richgetricher (9), northsea on Jul 29, 10 8:15 AM
Exactly, it was nothing but a revenue grab to cover shoddy management of existing revenues. None of it was going to the management of sustainable fisheries.
By Blackjordan (15), Sag Harbor on Jul 29, 10 8:25 AM
I believe that Judge Sweeny's injuntion has been appealed to the Appellate Division in Brooklyn. There are three other cases on the same issue -- exclusive Town jurisdiciton over the waters and shoreline areas under the Tustee system Dongan Patent -- also before the same Court. Why should the State settle when any one of these cases could come down in their favor and give them a complete win? Lombardo and the Trustees keep repeating the same old yarn -- about this being "settled law" with "three ...more
By snarko77 (49), Brookhaven on Jul 29, 10 5:10 PM
Stay tuned.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Jul 29, 10 6:53 PM
the Royal Patents and the trustees rights have been upheld at the SCOTUS before, and NYS knows it. Never content with what they have, another tax and power grab taking a little piece of our heratage and our rights away. these central planners will never be saqtisfied with the limits they are given,. THEY work for US, sometning they have completely forgotten.
By Lost Tribe (66), East Hampton on Aug 1, 10 1:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
Never has any court -- federal, state or otherwise -- effectively held up the exclusive fishing jurisdiction in navigable waters of the East End Towns, or any other municipality. It is s principle that goes back to the Magna Carta and ancient Roman law. The language in the Dongan Patent was to protect the common right of fishing against royalty from granting such exclusive right. You people have turned it inside out and upside down to do exactly the opposite of its original intent.
By snarko77 (49), Brookhaven on Aug 1, 10 10:08 AM
"you people" ? A perfectt argument! Re read the very plain language of Patent once again. The right to fish,jurisdiction over the local waters, salt and fresh, beaches among other things, excepting gold discovery, are held by the Trustees/ not central planners in DC or Albany..
By Lost Tribe (66), East Hampton on Aug 1, 10 10:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
You people have to read it and interpret it in it's historical/legal context. The jurisdictional dichotomy was not local v state and federal -- it was commonality v royalty. The Dongan Patent is not a King's Grant of exclusivity of domain -- it is exactly the opposite. It is the guarantee that the waters and the wetlands would forever remain "common ground." Translated into modern terms it says that these lands are public not private. It is settled law in the United States that municipalities cannot ...more
By snarko77 (49), Brookhaven on Aug 2, 10 4:42 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Trustees and the Southampton Town Attorney's office clearly have time (and taxpayer money) to burn. There are not ONLY cases that are being litigated in Supreme court (and higher). Check the Justice Court calendar. There are several there (one about to go to trial) in connection w town waters.

Maybe it is time for the TOWN TRUSTEES to fund their own activities and NOT rely on the Town coffers (Town attorneys) to prosecute their antiquated existence. It is 2010 after all.

Perhaps ...more
By cjs (6), southampton on Aug 2, 10 8:05 AM
ICE -- "I don't know about East Hampton, but Southampton has been handling this suit "in house" meaning Assistant Town Attorney Joe Lombardo is representing them. This costs the Town virtually nothing more as his salary is already in the budget."

You should look into this a little further -- Southampton Town has hired outside counsel to help them with these cases. And I'm sure the costs are quite substantial.
By snarko77 (49), Brookhaven on Aug 3, 10 12:17 PM
Why does everything in Southampton town become a fight with liberal and conservative views???? Isn't it about time Southampton town goes back to basics and stops complicating by trying to personally change the environment on so Many levels?!? FOR ONCE IN A LONG TIME ...JUST DO THE RIGHT THING FOR ALL ENVOLVED ...the year-round citizens should beable to keep their heritage...that's important for a sustainable community and economy...as for those that visit and vacation take time to enjoy the view...don't ...more
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 6, 10 5:41 AM
"...as for those that visit and vacation take time to enjoy the view...don't ... more try to change it...because when you do ....you're going to regret it and so will future generations."

We're not tourists -- we're your neighbors. And you have an invisible and illegal barrier up against those whose right it is to have free and unfettered access to the navigable waterways within your town for recreational -- and much more importantly -- commercial purposes. Tell your representative government ...more
By snarko77 (49), Brookhaven on Aug 7, 10 4:18 PM
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