One of the issues that came up was “The Hills at Southampton” project that was voted down by the Town Board in 2017. It seemed as if some people were focusing too much on this old project (even though the issue is settled, whether we incorporate or not) instead of the process that brought about the final decision.
My takeaway is that The Hills decision was the proverbial “canary in the coal mine.” It told us that we in East Quogue do not control our own destiny. Whether you cheered or were dismayed by The Hills decision, it’s the process that should cause you great concern.
To illustrate, I present a hypothetical case: Southampton Town needs to build 200 low- and middle-income housing units. This will adversely affect the taxes of the residents wherever this project lands.
There are four parcels under consideration. They are in East Quogue, Hampton Bays, Water Mill and Bridgehampton (all unincorporated areas, since the town cannot push a project on a village). The Town Board is made up of members from Water Mill, Hampton Bays, Bridgehampton, Southampton and Sag Harbor.
In this scenario, the members from Water Mill, Hampton Bays and Bridgehampton decide to vote as a block for the parcel in East Quogue, because they are getting pressure from their neighbors who don’t want the project, and the increase in taxes, in their hamlets. This is when the East Quogue “canary” dies.
Without direct representation on the Town Board (even that would only be one vote out of five, and there’s no guarantee that we can elect someone from East Quogue to a townwide position), we are not in control of our future. The “canary” is warning us.
We need to secure our ability to exercise home rule and self-governance. We can protect ourselves and our community by voting yes on the limited incorporation that has been proposed. The Village of East Quogue should take its rightful place at the table.
Harry MainzerEast Quogue
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