Fourteen men who drove onto Truck Beach in Amagansett during a protest over the disputed stretch of sand were charged with trespassing on October 17, East Hampton Town police said.
The men plan to fight the charges in East Hampton Town Justice Court, arguing that New York State’s highest court erred when it declined to hear the town’s bid to overturn a ruling that Truck Beach is private property, according to Dan Rodgers, a Southampton-based attorney who represents a group of commercial fishermen impacted by the decision.
“Homeowners who claim to have won a victory by court determination that they ‘own the beach’ have held out a threat that if the town were to condemn the beach they own, East Hampton residents could be liable to these homeowners for hundreds of millions of dollars,” Rodgers said. “If the homeowners wish the fishermen to go away, they can compensate us in an equal amount … Once they write they check, they should reach out and we can tell them where to send it.”
The state Court of Appeals denied last month the town’s motion to hear an appeal of a lawsuit the town lost when an earlier appeals ruling that found the public is not allowed to drive on and fish from the beach in front of a group of oceanfront property owners’ homes. The town has said that it plans to explore condemning the 4,000-foot stretch of beach west of Hither Hills State Park under eminent domain, the legal process in which the government can seize land for public use.
The 14 men, many, if not all of whom are commercial fishermen, will face the charges at a date yet to be determined.