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Sep 4, 2012 1:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

More Than 200 People Attend Community Forum In Hampton Bays

Sep 4, 2012 4:46 PM

More than 200 people filled the Hampton Bays High School auditorium last week to hear a presentation by the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays, an organization that formed in the past year to tackle what group leaders describe as overlooked issues in the hamlet.

“Because of the lack of attention from our leaders at the Southampton Town Hall to enforce its own codes and laws, Hampton Bays is declining,” Michael Dunn, the president of the organization, said at the meeting, held on the evening of August 29. “Our goal at Concerned Citizens is to aggressively recruit members from the community to build a force that we, as Hampton Bays residents, will tell leaders at Southampton Town what we want in Hampton Bays, and not to leave it up to Southampton Town leaders to ignore us.”

Mr. Dunn’s comments, along with those of board members Eve Houlihan and Robert Liner, were met with applause and cheering from the crowd. Aided by a PowerPoint presentation filled with U.S. Census statistics, the board members explained in detail the issues plaguing the hamlet, including the hundreds of former motel rooms that are now being used as year-round illegal residences and the homeless shelter that’s being run by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services at the former Hidden Cove Motel off West Tiana Road. They said the increasing density of the hamlet is placing an unfair burden on their schools, and the lack of proper septic systems at these facilities is polluting nearby bays.

“Hampton Bays, as currently exists, is in a state of imbalance on multiple fronts, which must be addressed and remedied,” said Ms. Houlihan, a former treasurer and current member of the Hampton Bays Civic Association.

She added that members of the new group are asking the town to enforce its laws in Hampton Bays, just like it does in other portions of the municipality. “So we aren’t asking for the moon here,” Ms. Houlihan said.

About 45 minutes into the meeting, attention turned to Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who was handed the microphone while standing at the back of the auditorium. She fielded accusations that the town is not rigorously enforcing its codes at motel properties in Hampton Bays that have been illegally converted to apartments by explaining the difficulty that the town has in hunting down absentee landlords who, most of the time, do not live in Southampton Town.

“It’s a chicken-and-egg situation that is very, very difficult for us to go after, but we have stepped up enforcement,” she said. “In my opinion, we need to do more.”

Ms. Throne-Holst added that the town’s code enforcement officers are paid less than the officers in most other municipalities on Long Island. “So we lose them,” she said, adding that it is important for code enforcement officers to get to know the buildings and homes in the area, so that they can ensure that cases they are pursuing are eventually closed.

She brought up the option of hiring more code enforcement officers to mitigate the problems in Hampton Bays—an option Mr. Liner said he would support. Though such a move would significantly impact the town’s budget, Ms. Throne-Holst said she would consider it money well spent.

The town’s $80.3 million budget for 2012 allocates almost $700,000 for the municipality’s Investigation and Enforcement Unit. That amount covers the salaries of a chief town investigator, who makes $77,256 per annum, six full-time ordinance inspectors, who make between $46,385 and $50,073 per year, a part-time officer with a base salary of $30,004, and an administrative assistant who makes $47,754 per year.

At last week’s meeting, Ms. Throne-Holst also suggested the possibility of creating a code enforcement district that would assign specific officers to Hampton Bays.

The supervisor also called on those present to join her in voicing their concerns about the homeless shelter to Suffolk County officials.

“Honestly, if you want to see any action on Hidden Cove, you need to unite with me in going to the county, because that is where the change has to happen,” she said. “It’s out of our hands, so you want to talk to me about how to do that, I’m with you all the way, because I need your help on that.”

Still, residents in attendance were not shy about their frustration with their elected town officials.

“All of the people on the board in elected position want your vote,” Susan Joy Behn told audience members. “And if they’re not representing us to our satisfaction ... they need to leave—including the supervisor. I’m sorry, but that’s the reality.”

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Contact the DEC--a State agency whose authority usurps the County. The waterfront motels with sub-standard and antiquated septic systems are essentially flushing waste directly into the bay. If the DEC determines this to be an environmental hazard they will shut these facilities down in a heartbeat.
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Sep 5, 12 8:06 AM
Good job Michael Dunn the Town has been using Hampton Bays as a dumping ground at our expense.Shut down the illegal motels for starters.
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Sep 5, 12 9:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
Code Enforcement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Sep 5, 12 1:43 PM
Mike, you are a good man. Keep up the fight!!!!
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Sep 5, 12 3:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
If Hampton Bays doesn't promote these waterfront higher end projects it will always be a dumping ground.They need to encorage commercial smart projects and get a handle on single family house overcrowding, and motel over crowding. The town should offer incentives to let these motels go co op so summer people would buy the units and use little or no services, I'm glad a smart, young intelligent person like Mike is taking this on, If any place on the East End should be a village Hampton Bays should.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 5, 12 5:25 PM
3 members liked this comment
Good job Michael Dunn, keep up the good work.
By joan s (53), hampton bays on Sep 6, 12 9:32 PM
Where is the Hampton Bays Civic Association?
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Sep 9, 12 9:36 AM