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May 21, 2019 4:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Second Public Hearing On East Quogue Village Incorporation Held On Monday

Karen Kooi, co-chair of the East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee. VALERIE GORDON
May 22, 2019 8:42 AM

The East Quogue community remains split on whether to incorporate the hamlet into a village, and is likewise divided about the legality of a petition to do so that was filed with Southampton Town.

The petition was given to the Southampton Town clerk’s office on April 3 and is currently under review by Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. Under New York State Village Incorporation Law, Mr. Schneiderman, rather than the Town Board, is solely responsible for determining whether the petition, circulated by the East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee, a community group that has promoted creating the village, is valid before the issue can be put to a public vote.

At a second public hearing on the petition, held at 6 p.m. at the East Quogue Elementary School on Monday, Peter Bee of Mineola-based Bee Ready Fishbein & Donovan, who is representing the committee, rebutted several objections to the petition made at the prior hearing on May 13.

At the first hearing, William Kearns of East Quogue spoke on behalf of himself, as well as the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, arguing that 58 signatures on the petition were invalid under state and village law.

Additionally, he testified that a list of regular inhabitants—required to be filed with the petition—included the names of 35 dead people and 55 people who have moved out of East Quogue.

However, on Monday, Mr. Bee argued that the petition was still valid, even when taking into account the opposition’s argument. He pointed to state law, which requires that a petition include the signatures of at least 20 percent of registered voters of a proposed village—or 686 of the 3,428 East Quogue residents, according to Suffolk County voter registration data.

The exploratory committee’s petition includes signatures from 780 residents.

“Even if all of the objections were valid, there would be 723 valid signatures remaining,” Mr. Bee said. “None of these objections are fatal to the sufficiency of the petition.”

He added that the number of signatures is still within those parameters, even when taking into account testimony from East Quogue resident Steven Brash, who said last week that his name appeared on the petition when he did not, in fact, sign it.

As for the opponents’ arguments surrounding the list of regular inhabitants, Mr. Bee said there was “no proof of such allegations.”

Pointing to state village law, he said, “As objectors have the burden of proof, pursuant to the statute … they should be disregarded by the supervisor.”

However, those opposed to the incorporation, including East Quogue resident Elizabeth Jackson, have argued that the petition should be invalidated as many of the signatories were misled into signing it.

In written testimony, Ms. Jackson said that a large majority of residents signed the petition with the acclimation that they would be learning more about the possibility of incorporating the hamlet. She said that they were not signing in support of holding a public vote to become a village.

“They were regularly misinformed as to what they were signing,” she said.

Karen Kooi, co-chair of the East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee, however, has argued that the committee fully explained the purpose of the petition to the hamlet’s residents.

Mr. Schneiderman declined to comment on the testimony provided thus far, offering only that he was consulting with Southampton Assistant Town Attorney Kathleen Murray to review the written submissions.

The supervisor is required to render a decision on the sufficiency of the petition no later than Monday, June 10.

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if EQ becomes a village never vote anyone from this exploratory committee in to office.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on May 23, 19 6:56 AM
2 members liked this comment
Agreed. Pretty blatant conflict of interest there...
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on May 23, 19 7:56 AM
The exploratory committee consists of those that stand to profit financially from Discovery Land's Hills project. That is what this is all about. There was never a push to incorporate (or even formal discussions regarding incorporation) for the previous 20 years. If the Hills were to go through, the gentleman that owns his electric company gets the contract to do all of the electric there. The woman's husband who owns a landscaping company gets the contract to do all of the landscaping there ...more
By 2329702 (67), East Quogue on May 31, 19 10:36 AM
If they win village vote, elect Mayor and board excluding those on the exploratory committee. Justice will prevail.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on May 31, 19 10:44 AM