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Jul 8, 2015 9:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Village Exploration Pushes Ahead With Incorporation Plans

Jul 8, 2015 1:07 PM

Those behind the latest attempt to incorporate the hamlet of Hampton Bays, an initiative that has been prodded and explored by various groups multiple times over the decades—to no avail thus far—say they are making slow and steady progress.

Nine months after being recognized as an official nonprofit by New York State, members of Hampton Bays Village Exploration Committee said they now have an estimated budget that, they say, would be needed for their hamlet to eventually separate from Southampton Town.

That unofficial spending plan, according to Hampton Bays Village Exploration Committee President Bruce Doscher, would total approximately $2.94 million. That amount, he said, would be needed to fund a separate court system and code enforcement department, among other amenities. It would also cover the salaries of the elected mayor, court and code enforcement officers, a village clerk, and other staffers.

Mr. Doscher explained that the committee came up with the tentative spending plan after reviewing the budgets for Westhampton Beach and Quogue villages. Westhampton Beach’s budget for the current year totals $9.92 million, while Quogue Village’s current spending plan comes in at $7.9 million.

Those municipalities, however, are considerably smaller in both size and density than the proposed village that would be created from the hamlet of Hampton Bays. The proposed village would encompass the entire Hampton Bays School District, which is 14 square miles. In contrast, Quogue totals about four square miles while Westhampton Beach is smaller, at about three square miles total.

According to Mr. Doscher, the tentative spending plan for Hampton Bays Village is the “best approximation” that members of the exploratory group could come up with at this time. He stressed that it is not yet finalized and still open for modifications.

The proposed budget has already been reviewed by Joe Prokop, an attorney who helped with the formation of the villages in Sagaponack and Mastic Beach, “so he knows all the ins and outs about villages,” Mr. Doscher said. He added that Mr. Prokop’s guidance will be a key component to successfully forming a village in Hampton Bays.

Mr. Prokop said this week that he has been working with Hampton Bays Village Exploration Committee members throughout the process and, based on their estimations, thinks that the proposed budget could work. It also appears that, if the hamlet incorporates, a homeowner whose property is assessed at $450,000 would have to absorb an estimated $240 increase in taxes annually.

But Mr. Doscher stressed that many things are still preliminary, and that several public hearings will eventually be scheduled to explain and outline the group’s plan for incorporation. He could not provide a concrete timeline this week, however.

Mr. Prokop explained that the primary goal of the exploratory committee is to come up with a plan for incorporation and then explain the process to Hampton Bays taxpayers before they are asked to eventually vote on a referendum.

The most recent movement to secede from Southampton Town dates back to 2013, when a vocal group of Hampton Bays residents began to voice their displeasure with how the town has been handling code enforcement complaints, land use and zoning decisions, and other issues that, they said, were negatively affecting their quality of life. Those involved in the latest movement, which includes Bruce King, a former president of the Hampton Bays Civic Association and current vice president of Hampton Bays Village Exploration Committee, think that Hampton Bays residents would be better served by a smaller government.

One of the benefits of incorporation, according to Mr. Doscher, would be having the proposed village’s justices living in the municipality that they serve. “If village justices are elected in a village—that’s a huge difference,” he said. “It’s a game-changer. If judges are selected from village boundaries, they are more likely to care how the law is applied.”

He also said that, under the proposal, it would be easier for residents to apply and secure building permits, and, perhaps most important, address code enforcement issues through their own department rather than the town’s.

If it eventually does become a village, Hampton Bays would continue to contract certain services from the town, including its police and highway departments, according to Mr. Doscher. That could eventually be subject to change as well, depending on the plans of the village’s elected mayor and board of trustees.

The next step in the process is for members of the exploratory committee to mail out a census, as required by the state, to see how many people would fall within the boundaries of the proposed village. The census should be mailed out in late September and to approximately 6,500 addresses, Mr. Doscher said.

After that, the Hampton Bays Village Exploration Committee will submit a petition to Southampton Town, along with a $6,000 check, so it can review the proposal—a process that is expected to take about two months to complete.

Though they are both aware of past attempts to incorporate their hamlet, both Mr. Doscher and Mr. King are confident that they are on the correct path, one that will rally the support of their neighbors. Though it is still early in the process, some hamlet residents appear to be on board with the movement.

“I think having control of our destiny is important,” said Michael Dunn, president of the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays and one of the newest members of the Hampton Bays Board of Education.

Mr. King pointed out that, unlike earlier attempts, members of his group are taking their time and carefully reviewing each of the steps needed to move their idea forward.

“I think this is going to be wonderful when we become a village,” Mr. King said. “We’re already pretty big, so this is the next logical thing for a community the size that we are.”

Ms. Doscher noted that taxpayers appear to be supportive of their undertaking, pointing out that more than 100 people attended a pancake breakfast hosted by his committee last month at the Hampton Bays Fire Department substation on Ponquogue Avenue. Funds raised at that event were used to pay back members of the committee who had laid out nearly $2,000 out of their own pockets to fund the incorporation initiative. Another fundraiser is tentatively scheduled for September 10 at Oakland’s Restaurant and Marina on Dune Road.

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Have any of the other villages solved the problems you are trying to solve by doing this? I think not and it would be very costly to the homeowners when nothing that they thought would be corrected/ resolved can not be done. Just stop and do a little more research of the scrounging villages.
By Resident tax (186), Hampton bays ny on Jul 8, 15 3:49 PM
Is there a way I can be of assistance in raising funds for this great cause..
.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Jul 8, 15 4:39 PM
Yes! Join us at one of our Monday meetings and join us at our Hall of Fame fundraiser at Oakland's on Thursday Sept 10 6-9 pm.
By bluelightning (21), Hampton Bays on Aug 18, 15 10:46 AM
Go for it ! We need to be independent and have our own village. Eventually, we could incorporate all services to residents including police and highway.
Hampton bays residents would have control with a full service village. Also,
The quality of life here would improve and our property values would increase.
It's a winner!
By Jimion (129), Hampton Bays on Jul 8, 15 6:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
It makes all the sense in the world to have local elected officals-someone living in Sag Harbor should not be telling Hampton Bays what they can and can not do.
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Jul 8, 15 7:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
What's the point? I've lived in two villages and taxes are always higher and local laws much more restrictive (some are good for the area, but probably once an area has been developed, as has HB, it's too late to implement the good rules, I'm talking about zoning, lot sizes, fences, street parking, etc. - Homes and businesses are already here, you can't tell a resident on a small lot with a small house to start over. There's too many motels, you can't get rid of them now. The residents are already ...more
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Jul 8, 15 7:57 PM
2 members liked this comment
I understand what you are saying but I think a village gives us local control over local issues as mentioned by westhamptonboy above.
By bluelightning (21), Hampton Bays on Aug 18, 15 10:50 AM
I would support this great cause,
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on Jul 9, 15 1:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Waste of time and money. The Civics are already guiding policy in Southampton Government (Save the CPI for one). All this does is add to taxes and create more issues for the people. If the debacle in Westhampton is any indication of the future of Hampton Bays, time to sell now.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Jul 9, 15 7:46 AM
You have no clue what you are talking about. A village could nip things in the bud and take things to a whole other level.
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on Jul 10, 15 11:35 PM
My cousin lives in Mastic Beach and says incorporation has been a monumental game changer in upgrading the area. Boarding up houses, going after slum lords, illegal rentals, etc...

Does HB have any of those problems?
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Jul 9, 15 8:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
Possibly aging hipster should have an eye exam.
By Samuel (4), Hampton bays on Sep 6, 15 1:19 PM
Mastic Beach has been upgraded?
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on Jul 9, 15 8:38 AM
The incorporated Village has--100%
You would be amazed...
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Jul 9, 15 8:45 AM
God luck to you getting this done, though I'm pretty sure it will cost way more than an average $20 per month per average homeowner. Sounds like pie in the sky.
By hbz (7), Hampton Bays on Jul 9, 15 8:09 PM
So they expect to run a village 4x the size of WHB for 1/3 the budget? Umm... somebody's math seems a little off here. Good luck with that.
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Jul 9, 15 10:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
they dont appear to know what they are doing
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jul 10, 15 8:30 AM
Funny how the negative comments never come with any solutions, other ideas to add or actually stepping up and helping out. Thats where the real problems are. And if you think the SHT Board is looking out for HB you are have been on some other planet for the last couple of decades.
By curensea (2), hampton bays on Jul 13, 15 11:33 AM
2 members liked this comment
HB shouldn't take it personally. The SHT Board hasn't been looking out for anyone except themselves and the developers. The real solution is not to add another expensive layer of government but to instead throw the bums out and put all new blood in town hall.
By bird (829), Southampton on Jul 14, 15 8:56 AM
If by new blood you mean Supervisor and councilperson that can support Scalera you're right! You may not agree with every decision but she is broadly respected and recognized as the only current member who is knowledgeable, engaged and hard working. Can't lose her- If you mean a recycled- carpet bagging, do nothing with two newbies in tow - then you're clearly not speaking in the best interests of HB or the Town for that matter.
By Roughrider28 (80), southampton on Jul 16, 15 8:05 AM
1 member liked this comment