One photograph wasn’t enough to capture the illegal number of cars parked at a Springs home at the corner of Copeces Lane and Springs-Fireplace Road, Springs resident Carol Buda told the East Hampton Town Board on Thursday.
“I have to take four photographs to get all 10 cars in the picture,” she said, showing a collage of photos depicting cars on the property on the morning of February 12. “You can’t see all the cars in one picture.”
Ms. Buda, along with her husband David Buda, urged the board last week to take new approaches in resolving illegal overcrowding of homes in their neighborhood.
The town’s Ordinance Enforcement Department has made some progress, but “much, much more” needs to be done to address the issue of illegal, overcrowded rentals, said Mr. Buda, the founding member of The Springs Concerned Citizens group. They repeated their charge that overcrowding directly affects the Springs School District’s enrollment and school taxes, although school officials have denied that in the past, as well as property values of homes in the neighborhood.
Mr. Buda recommended a number of measures to buttress current Code Enforcement initiatives, including dedicating a work session at which Public Safety Administrator Patrick Gunn and Code Enforcement Director Betsy Bambrick are on hand to field public concerns; disseminating a weekly list of new cases the code enforcement department has filed in the Town Justice Court; strengthening current ordinances so voluntary inspections and judicial warrants are more easily attainable and adopting a “rental registration” law that could more easily facilitate a house inspection by a Code Enforcement officer.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said last week that the board has aggressively addressed the issue. “I don’t think that’s fair,” Mr. Wilkinson said about claims that the town has been unresponsive to concerns. Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said she would be interested in holding a housing summit.
Party Line Divide
A number of measures failed along party lines last week, bringing to the forefront a simmering political tension between members of the Town Board’s Republican majority and Democratic minority.
With Councilman Dominick Stanzione’s absence on Thursday, only four board members— Republicans Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley and Democrats Peter Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby—were present to vote on resolutions. The result was a stalemate on four resolutions: a local law on home improvement contractors; a code amendment that would lengthen the building permit renewal period from every six months to every three years; a request to waive building permit extension fees for a property owner and a request for proposals (RFP) to renovate the old Town Hall building in light of a bid to sell the town-owned 300 Pantigo Place building and relocate town employees.
Ms. Overby said she voted against lengthening the building permit renewal period because it would mean a loss of town revenue to the tune of about $27,000, she said.
Although the resolutions failed, they can be brought forward again at another Town Board meeting when Mr. Stanzione is present.
Regional Transportation Authority
Following a request by New York State legislators, the Town Board approved two resolutions that would create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council and a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.
The two groups would essentially lay the framework for a regional transportation system that would encompass all five East End towns and the villages within them, according to State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.. East Hampton Town is one of the first, if the not the first, municipalities to approve the requests, said Mr. Thiele, who is sponsoring both laws in the State Assembly. New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle is sponsoring both laws in the State Senate.
A Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority would be a public authority on the East End that would replace the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which currently operates the Long Island Rail Road. But creating such a group may not be necessary to developing a viable public transit plan on the East End, Mr. Thiele said. Recently, the MTA approved $37 million in capital funding toward the transportation initiative to buy small, cost-effective diesel trains that would run along LIRR lines, he said. The focus has shifted to creating a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council, an 18-member group that would serve as a “voice for the East End” by working with stakeholders and members of all levels of government toward developing and implementing a public transportation plan with the MTA and LIRR.