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UPDATE: Dock Ban Underwater

By John Kramer

UPDATE:Town Board Dock Regulation Hearing 4/21

This Dock issue was the only item on the agenda after the regular business and the house was about 80% full.  Supervisor Russell stated at the outset that their purpose was to listen and use the input to further modify and correct a lot of the problems with the proposal as it stands.  They heard in very certain terms from many eloquent and knowledgeable shore dwelling taxpayers that the regulation as proposed is unreasonable, a needless burden to the waterfront owner, unnecessary, as there is no rush of applicants, and insulting to the public with it’s pseudo-scientific approach. 

I also spoke and mentioned the fact that it would eliminate all docks ,not regulate them, and that if the intent is to disenfranchise the 700+ property owners of their right to a fair application process, a referrendum might be a better option.  Shoredwelling taxpayers also took the time to remind the board that THEY are not the problem but the solution, and that they respect and care for the health of the bays as much or more than others. The Town has many more important and pressing issues to spend their time on.  They did a great job in making the point. 

Speaking for themselves, Jill Dougherty, Trustee, cited many problems with the proposal and opposed the regulation; Peggy Dickerson, Trustee, spoke in favor of it. Speaking in favor of the regulation were all the lobbists who were paid to attend and speak: representatives from the South Fork on behalf of the Nature Conservancy, The Group for the South Fork, and the Peconic Estuary Program. 

Our reality going forward is that the town board listens with equal weighting to the input from their constituents, and input from professional planning lobbists who earn their living by promulgating and promoting new laws and regulations.  This is their stock in trade, how their sucess is measured.  They beat up the board by saying things like ‘”East Hampton did it, Southhampton did it, you need to!”  So the board wants to be as good as their South Fork counterparts and announces, last night, “We must take a proactive approach to the regulation of the docks in the bay, by setting a standard for dock construction that is reasonable etc. ”  No one asks, and no one answers the question, “WHY must we take a proactive approach?” 

To my mind, that precludes individual freedom.  I would rather my government be REACTIVE to the will of the people, not proactively proscribe and delineate the bounds of my freedom.

It should have been clearly stated, and I should have, but did not, (perhaps someone will at the next hearing) that there is no problem between dock owners and public beach walkers.  Never have I heard of any complaint about the inability of respectful people walking the foreshore to enjoy a walk on the beach.  This is not an issue as far as I know.  Docks are built to allow access by stairs if necessary to allow lateral transit.

It was also noted that the planners threw in the CCA ban provision gratuitously, to see if it would escape notice and get incorporated into the regulation.  It didn’t fly and was a quick “give back” that will be absent the next time we see this proposal.

Look for the meeting on TV, (Channel 22 Cable TV) and listen to BOTH of Jay Bredemeyer’s excellent comments.  There will be more hearings in the future and if the board can’t hear from their voters, they will listen to their paid lobbyists instead.   Stay tuned.

John Kramer

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