Last week, we submitted a Letter to the Editor proffering that the Southampton Town Conservation Board operates as a social club, wielding its power to benefit friends, whether or not the actions are lawful, comply with town code and/or satisfy their mandate to protect and preserve the wetlands [“Showing Special Favor,” Letters, November 5]. Our interpretation was based on the board’s approval of multiple unnecessary code violations, as well as multiple failures of the board to follow their own codified review and approval procedures, in relation to the property redevelopment plans of our neighbor, a government employee.
Further research has revealed that the failure of the board to implement the law in relation to this property began years earlier. According to their own 2016 Preliminary Advisory Report, beginning in 2012, the board repeatedly advised the property owner to correct unauthorized clearing of the wetlands (creating a sandy beach) with re-establishment of the natural vegetative buffer.
Rather than follow through on this matter, the board has allowed this violation to remain unabated, with no indication of the codified imposition of penalties that we could find, for eight years. Not only has the board failed to act according to code, it has continued to review and issue redevelopment permits for this property, allowing for additional code violations, and further extending the deadline for abatement. Recently issued permits do not appear to require abatement action for years.
These facts can only be explained in one of two ways: either the property owner has been shown extreme special favor, or this matter typifies an overarching failure of the Conservation Board to carry out its mandate to protect the wetlands.
Either way, the facts clearly argue for a reorientation of the board’s focus that will bring forth a new era of lawful behavior and wetlands protection, even if this requires a change in board leadership/membership.
Diane and Henry Riewerts
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One fine body…