A Flawed Process - 27 East

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Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1703299

A Flawed Process

What you should know as you think about your upcoming vote for Southampton Village trustee in September:

Bill Hattrick, a former mayor of our village, was president of the Southampton Association in the summer of 2005, when Mark Epley was elected mayor and brought two new trustees, Paul Robinson and Nancy McGann, with him. Along with then-trustees Bill Bates and Jim McFarlane, and other leaders in Southampton Village, Bill Hattrick was worried about the draconian zoning code introduced by Mayor Epley and championed by his two new trustees.

Therefore, Bill Hattrick hired John Shea, a local lawyer, who produced a masterful legal document, a four-page letter addressed to Mark Epley and the trustees, in which he showed that, according to statutory and case law, Paul Robinson had an impermissible conflict of interest, and should recuse himself from voting on that new zoning code: It would immediately enhance the value of the eight village properties owned by Paul Robinson.

Nonetheless, Paul Robinson did cast the decisive vote on the new zoning code in a November 2005 meeting that was not covered by minutes, and was therefore in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Law.

You can check it in our own Building Department, the keeper of the minutes books — there are no minutes of the November 10, 2005, meeting of the board of trustees, at which Mr. Epley, Ms. McGann and Mr. Robinson voted for the new zoning code, which, among other gifts to developers, permitted enormous seven- and eight-bedroom McMansions on small half-acre lots.

I knew nothing about these matters at the time, because I wasc recovering from a life-saving emergency operation, then two weeks in bed attended by a nurse, who then, in May 2005, drove me carefully to my law school, where I took my final exams. Nonetheless, I passed all the exams, and I did graduate with my law school class in June 2005. But I still needed time to recover from the operation.

Therefore, I again enrolled in law school, and from August 2005 till June 2006, I lived full-time in my New York City apartment, attended daily law school classes, and earned the graduate law degree, the LLM.

Some years later, Bill Hattrick loaned me his file covering that time period. The Shea letter was part of that file. Also part of the same file was the affidavit in which Rick DePetris swore, as village attorney, that he knew of no local law that the attached zoning code violated. Rick DePetris filed that affidavit with the New York State Department of State, which turned the new zoning code into law.

Evelyn Konrad

Attorney at law

Southampton

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