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Nov 11, 2014 10:20 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Village Board To Consider Five New Laws Next Month

Nov 12, 2014 8:50 AM

The Westhampton Beach Village Board will hold public hearings at its meeting next month on five proposed laws, including one that, if adopted, would mirror Southampton Town’s rules regarding driving on municipal beaches.

That legislation, which would be classified under Chapter 182 of the village code, follows in the footprint of the Southampton Town code in terms of requiring a permit from the Southampton Town Trustees and the necessary equipment to access the beach, and prohibiting all-terrain vehicles.

Westhampton Beach also would impose a 10-mph speed limit and require drivers to remain off the dunes and beach grass areas between the crest of the dune and the high-water mark, all of which is in line with the town’s regulations.

Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore said that, if put into effect, the law would simply give Village Police the ability to enforce the town’s rules, which the department currently lacks the legal authority to do.

“We had no authority without [this law] to stop anybody to make sure they were in compliance with the town code,” Ms. Moore said. “If someone were to break the rules without this code provision, we couldn’t do anything about it.”

Under the new law, off-road vehicles would be allowed to access the beach within the village only from Lashley Beach, and only after 6 p.m. daily, from May 15 to September 15. During the off-season, cars would be able to access the beach whenever the access gate is open. Drivers are never permitted to access the shoreline from Rogers Beach.

Government agencies, village contractors and emergency vehicles would be given exemptions from this law. Commercial anglers licensed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation would still be able to access the beach year-round.

On Tuesday, Southampton Town Trustee Bill Pell said the village had not yet contacted the Trustees, the governing body that oversees the beaches and ocean bottoms throughout the town, to discuss the proposed law, but he noted that at least two members plan on attending next month’s hearing to see what the village intends to do.

Mr. Pell added that as long as the village’s regulations are in line with the rules laid out by the Town Trustees, as is the case in Southampton Village, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

“I think if they mimic our rules and regulations then we won’t have a problem,” he said. “As long as they don’t restrict access to the beach then everything should be fine. All of us in the town are given access to those beaches as freeholders.”

Tom Kehlenbeck, president of the Hampton Surf Fishing Club, said he’s on board with the proposed law because it does not put any additional restrictions on his fellow recreational surf casters, many of whom flock to the village beaches during the fall to capitalize on the bountiful fishing in the area.

“There’s no doubt about it, we gotta have rules otherwise it gets wild and rampant, but the big thing is keeping the beaches open and accessible,” Mr. Kehlenbeck said. “I believe the rules are okay right now the way they are.”

Those found in violation of the law could be fined up to $1,000, or sentenced to up to 15 days in jail.

Hearings Slated

Also during last week’s meeting, the board scheduled a public hearing on this proposed law—as well as hearings for four others—for Thursday, December 4. That meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Two of the hearings will deal with the school zone along Mill Road, near the Westhampton Beach middle and high schools. One law would increase the speed within the village’s school zone, which currently begins at Oneck Lane and extends 476 feet to the east, from 15 mph to 20 mph, and it would be marked by a sign on the north side of Mill Road at the start of the school zone. Additionally, the village wants to expand the 20-mph zone to include all of Mill Road between Oneck Lane and Lilac Road.

The second traffic-related hearing would officially change the name of County Road 31 in the village code from “Washington Riverhead Road” to its correct name, “Westhampton Riverhead Road,” and also increase the speed limit within the Mill Road traffic to 20 mph, up from the current 15 mph.

Another public hearing is scheduled to discuss possible changes to parking along Lilac Road. Currently, parking is prohibited on the east side of the street, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days, from Montauk Highway to a distance of 86 feet to the south, as well as for the remaining stretch between Lilac and Mill roads, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on school days.

The proposed law would create a no-parking zone on the east side of Lilac Road that starts at Mill Road and extends 75 feet north. If approved, this parking restriction would be in effect from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days, Trustee Ralph Urban said.

On the west side of Lilac Road, parking and standing are prohibited for the entire length of the street, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days. The new law would extend the parking and standing ban to between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on school days, with standing allowed directly in front of the high school for after school pick up, according to Mr. Urban.

“It’s still up for change,” Mr. Urban said. “Since we have a public hearing set, the laws are subject to change depending on what the public wants.”

As of Monday, the village had not yet reached out to the Westhampton Beach School District, though Mr. Urban said the board planned to do so soon.

Westhampton Beach Schools Superintendent Michael Radday said this week while he had not seen the specifics on the proposed laws, he trusted that the village had the best interests of students in mind when drafting the changes.

“I would leave those decisions up to traffic control engineers and the police department, but I think 20 [mph] is still a reasonable speed in terms of the school zone,” Mr. Radday said. “What may make sense is to expand those zones to include Lilac and Oneck since they are adjacent to the schools and provide entrances to the school parking lot.

“Our goal is student safety and if what the village is proposing is going to improve that safety then it’s something we certainly support,” he continued.

The final law under consideration would make it illegal to sleep in a stationary vehicle within the village between the hours of 2 and 5 a.m.

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Can't wait to be enjoying the sunset on our beaches and have cars driving by. the kids will love dodging the traffic in between enjoying the waves!
By realistic (472), westhampton on Nov 11, 14 7:21 PM
As always realistic an udeducated comment. The article states "Under the new law, off-road vehicles would be allowed to access the beach within the village only from Lashley Beach, and only after 6 p.m. daily, from May 15 to September 15. During the off-season, cars would be able to access the beach whenever the access gate is open." So the cars can now drive on the beaches, but this new law will prevent them from doing so during the months in which you would sit on the beach and watch the sunset ...more
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Nov 12, 14 12:32 PM
Oh beachbme. I'm actually starting to feel sorry for you.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Nov 12, 14 7:20 PM