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Dec 16, 2015 9:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Voters Might Have A Say In Fate Of Proposed Sewer District

Dec 16, 2015 10:10 AM

Southampton Village voters might have an opportunity to decide the fate of a proposed sewer district in Southampton Village—but before a decision is made about a potential referendum, village officials say they are going to make changes to the plan.

Officials intend to cover the initial $33 million cost of installing the sewer system by borrowing the money via a bond issue. They hope to reduce the amount to be borrowed with as much as $10 million in public grants supporting sewer projects.

Citing state law, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. explained that village officials are not required to put the creation of a sewer district before the voters via referendum—though they could, voluntarily, do that. However, the bond issue that would fund the project would be subject to permissive referendum, meaning village officials can approve a bond resolution authorizing the borrowing of the funds, but residents could petition within 30 days to require a public vote on it.

The village plans to create a sewer district that would encompass all of the village, but the new sewers would serve only the downtown business district. A tax would be imposed on the entire municipality to repay the bond over time, though those with properties outside the service area of the new sewer system would pay less than businesses connected to the system.

Mayor Mark Epley said this week that officials have not yet decided whether they will voluntarily put the project to a public referendum. He admitted that if the proposal were presented as is, “it would be a close vote.”

While supportive of the sewer system proposal’s promise to improve Lake Agawam, many residents have said they are not sold on the increased density the sewer district would bring to the business district, citing parking and traffic as two big issues that could be worsened with more density.

“I think we need some modifications, and a better sell,” Mr. Epley said of the existing plan. “We will be tweaking the proposal, and continue to seek public comment.”

The mayor added that since an article outlining the details of the proposal, as well as the financial impact it would have on property owners, appeared in last week’s issue of The Press, he has received many comments both for and against the sewer district. “It is part of a good process,” he said.

Mr. Epley also explained that residents had similar reactions toward the Village Center Master Plan a few years back, as the zoning regulations in that plan are what make extra development possible if a new sewer system clears the way. However, he said they supported it once it was updated and public feedback was considered. Even the Southampton Association, known for a conservative approach to village issues, eventually supported the Master Plan, Mr. Epley said.

The sewer district proposal was prepared for the village by Melville-based H2M Architects and Engineers and is currently being reviewed by the Village Planning Commission, after which it will be sent to the Village Board for approval. An environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act is being prepared by Woodbury-based firm Cameron Engineering & Associates.

Planning Commission Chairman Paul Travis said at an informational meeting earlier this month that his board will prepare its recommendations for the Village Board at the commission’s next meeting on January 7.

“This is extremely important, and we need to take the steps necessary to sewer our most dense areas,” Mr. Epley said. “It is irresponsible to the environment and the health of our business district not to.”

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Imagine the nerve of Epley and the Village officials not letting the people who pay the bill decide. Hey Epley- let the tax payers have your check book!
By realistic (472), westhampton on Dec 16, 15 10:46 AM
2 members liked this comment
Read today's Newsday there is a whole story on how sewage treatment plants routinely exceed the maximum nitrate levels. These plants generally dump the pollutants to another area rather than them disappearing like they would have you believe. It's a real pile of crap they are selling the village. No pun intended.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 16, 15 11:49 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Easterlywind (7), Southampton on Dec 16, 15 1:12 PM
Read Newsday today. Sewage treatment plants. Remember the southwest sewer district fiasco??? All pay for the business owners...
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Dec 16, 15 3:07 PM
And how convenient that the Village Latch Inn which is being purchased by the Mayor's father in law happens to be right on the other side of the sewer district boundary and therefore would not have to pay the much higher taxes and the hookup costs that will be foisted on businesses to the east like the Southampton Inn, which could be hit with a $103K annual bill! All this so the rich folks (outside the sewer district) can have a cleaner lake Agawam. Give me a break!
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Dec 16, 15 4:21 PM
2 members liked this comment
I thought the biggest complaint in the village was traffic. Now they want more density with no new parking? Great planning.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 17, 15 8:44 AM
Agreed that the parking situation would need to be addressed, perhaps by adding a parking deck in the municipal lot behind rite aid. But, the Village infrastructure is in desperate need of updating. Otherwise, you will end up with buildings like those on Windmill Lane (yes the Epley family owns the old Thyme & Again building) rotting away as they are not permitted by the County to upgrade due to sewer limitations. Additionally, allowing the building owners on Windmill, Jobs, Main and Hampton Rds ...more
By Mouthampton (438), Southampton on Dec 18, 15 8:33 AM
I'm sort of amused by the opponents of the sewer-district proposal. First, we have village officials and the core of the lunatic fringe constantly bemoaning the "devastating" traffic on CR 39 and that we can't have another grocery store, regardless that the existing density supports it and that future density, which is obvious, demands it. Those same people have always claimed that the village “center," as part of their sanctimonious defense of “rural character,” is the only suitable ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Dec 18, 15 10:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
Lake Agawan is polluted by road runoff, and waterfowl droppings. The sewer will do nothing to correct the lake. A shopping center should be on a four lane hwy like CR 39 not in a village that currently has no parking spots. Does Southampton village need 120 more apartments, and more restaurants? Give me a break...
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 18, 15 1:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ever think about all the plush lawns around the lake? Sprinklers going most of the days and flowing out to the lake.
Read the press... How much for water to feed the plush lawns on meadow lane, they don't get green without fertilizers leaching out to the bays...
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Dec 18, 15 2:45 PM
Ban insecticides and fertilizers - YES...they destroy all wildlife - birds, fish, you name it. If you want an insect free environment - stay in New York. Insects have a place in the food chain for all of the wildlife that exists - a nice lawn can be had without fertilizer and without wasting drinking water of all creatures including human beings. Dis-balance of nature wreaks havoc. Learn it, live it, love earth. The ONLY place we have to live people. Limit the building of the Village of Southampton ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 18, 15 3:29 PM
How and where will the effluent be treated and recharged?
By bigfresh (4661), north sea on Dec 18, 15 3:55 PM
Can you imagine taxpayers might have a right to vote on a 30 million dollar expenditure. This mayor is really out of order.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 19, 15 10:58 AM
1 member liked this comment