Congratulations to Gina and Joe! And, above all, congratulations to our Village of Southampton, and to all of us who live here and love this village. The people have spoken loud and clear.
And now it’s time for the people to speak once again about our village, after 15 years of having our voices ignored.
I am talking about the need, and legal requirement, that local government implement a new Comprehensive Plan. New York State law recommends a new such plan at least every five years. Our village has not had a residential Comprehensive Plan since May 2000, and that one was violated in spirit and letter by the zoning code of 2005, which was meant to implement that plan, according to law.
The Comprehensive Plan is the place where the people of a municipality, Southampton Village in our case, tell the government exactly what they want the look and character of the village to be, now and in the future. They give their views about the need for open spaces, for historic preservation, moderation of traffic, on-street parking, the best use of local streets, the accessibility of shopping opportunities, and, of course, the size and type of residential housing they want to see in their village.
The latter includes a preference for setbacks, open lawns versus hedges, amount and type of construction preferred for front and back yards, and proximity of construction to neighbors’ residences and/or property lines.
In brief, a Comprehensive Plan is based on the expression of opinions and views about the physical look preferred for the village, as well as that important quality of life.
A good place for all our trustees to start is New York State law for villages, Section 7-722. You can google and download it. Another place where our trustees may get information essential to their decisions about our future is by googling and downloading “Zoning and the Comprehensive Plan,” as revised by the New York State Division of Local Government Services in 2015.
Don’t ignore your responsibility to know the laws affecting your decisions, and don’t just lean on the village lawyer. Both of the documents recommended above are easy reading and vital to your decision-making. Knowledge is power.
Under the two prior administrations, trustees collaborated with a mayor intent on favoring developers over residents, and leaned on corrupt lawyers hired by those two mayors. We have now entered a new era: the era of the rule of law.
Attorney at law
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One fine body…