Illegal Signs: In Southampton, Noyac or East Hampton, Illegal is Illegal

The picture above is a handmade sign that somebody put out in front of their oceanfront home two years ago. I’ve had it in my garage for a while. A beachcomber walking in front of that house came upon it, uprooted it since it was on public property, and brought it to my office. I wasn’t there at the time. But I was given the sign and the explanation of it by a secretary, and then took it home for safekeeping. I took it out the other day and planted it at one end of our swimming pool for this picture.

The other picture in this article was sent to me last week by a resident of Noyac who likes to frequent the little beach in the harbor off Noyac Bay Avenue. It too is an illegal sign. As you can see, it is well below the high-water mark—and since the public can legally walk along the beach anywhere—it’s simply a joke. [expand]

In this case, however, the Town of Southampton has not removed the sign, or other handmade illegal signs at the dead end of that beach, even though the Town was for months involved in a discussion about whether parking would be allowed there. Surely the Town, when investigating this matter, saw this sign above and the other handmade signs there. I don’t know why they have left them up. They should be removed. It is another affront to the citizenry. Years ago, when a man in Mecox put a barrier at the beginning of a public sand road that led out to the beach, the Town Supervisor ordered the Highway Department down there instantly to tear it out. Our present Town officials apparently don’t have the stomach for that.

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There are developments in two other matters involving controversial waterfront projects in Southampton Town this week.

A proposal to convert the old abandoned Mecox Bay Yacht Club, a 20-by-25-foot cabin at the dead end of Bay Lane in Water Mill, into a sailing school for young people was approved unanimously at the Town’s weekly board meeting. Local residents had argued loudly that they didn’t want anything down there, and that they just want privacy and nothing else. The Town Board courageously voted to arrange to have this modest property purchased by the town and a sailing school created, and I applaud them for it.

Meanwhile, up on Major’s Path, the battle continues between a group of citizens who live around the 22-acre Little Fresh Pond and the new owner of a former children’s camp and tennis club who wants to restore the camp as a day camp. The Town has been refereeing this battle in a series of hearings. The local citizens say that the day camp will ruin the quality of the water in Little Fresh Pond and will create a chaotic melee of children going to and coming from the day camp.

The news is that Jay Jacobs, the man who wants to restore the camp, has now filed a $65 million lawsuit against some of the more vocal individuals among his opponents. He says he is doing nothing more than restoring the buildings that already exist on the 17-acre property and returning them to their original use. Since the property was used as a tennis club and camp as recently as 2010, he only needs site plan approval from the Planning Board, and does not need a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Town’s Chief Building Inspector, Michael Benincasa, had determined that Jacobs’ plan is not an expansion or change in use from what currently exists on the site. Now he feels the local citizens are trying to muscle the town into pulling his permits and denying him what he is entitled to. Jacob’s lawsuit claims that fliers about the project put out by members of the Little Fresh Pond Association, the group against the day camp, contained “defamatory and malicious” content.

Thus does life go on in the Hamptons in the off-season.

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