A. The year end meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM
Those present were Richard Bruce, Fred Cammann, Jenice Delano, Michael Kapon, Steve Long, Ian MacPherson, Phyllis MacPherson, Jeffrey Mansfield, John Millard, Weezie Quimby, Alejandro Saralegui, Jeffrey Vogel.
B. The minutes of the October 26 meeting were approved.
C. As officers for the year 2010 Fred Cammann was elected Chairman, Tony Lambert, Vice Chairman, and Richard Bruce, Secretary
D. The Environmental report for MIACO, the proposed application for development at the present Bulls Head Inn site, was presented along with the attached response from the CAC. This response merely re- reaffirms the CAC’s previously offered concerns about this project. The public response period closed on December 28 which is why the CAC response was posted prior to this CAC meeting. The CAC affirmed the response at its December 28 meeting . In early January, 2010 the Planning Board will vote on this report. Assuming the Planning Board concurs with the report’s findings, the applicant will submit his application to the Southampton Zoning Board of Appeals. In that application the owner will request that the Northern parcel be down-zoned from residential to commercial and that any other variances necessary for the completion of the project be granted for the resulting two merged lots. The CAC has gone on record frequently in opposition to this plan, echoing the majority opinion of the Bridgehampton community, see the letter here
E. On December 4 the Chairman attended a meeting called by Supervisor-elect Ms. Throne Holst that covered two issues. Both concerned establishing a more active communication base between the CACs and the Town Government.
First. The Town will be divided into five regions and a single Town Board member will be assigned to each region, especially to be the contact point between the Town and each CAC within that region. Hopefully the board member assigned to a specific region will find the time to attend most of the CAC meetings within that region. This plan does not mean that the whole of the Town Board will be uninformed about the needs of the separate five regions, but rather it hopes to make the liason between the whole Town Board and the various parts of the town more responsive and more efficient. It was emphasized that this concept does not preclude CAC members from reaching out to any or all of the Town Board members with our concerns, ideas, or requests, as we have in the past.
Second, the Town plans to create a community organizations’ web page within the Town website, perhaps utilizing Facebook and Twitter elements to encourage more communication between town government and the community.
Ms. Throne Holst opined that the Town Board should concern itself with factors that exist beyond the daily issues that concern government attention. She feels the Town should also attempt to tackle broad issues that reach town wide in scope. To that end she asks us” to list 5 suggestions for issues and areas of reorganization [we] want to see the town address in 2010. In [our] opinion what are the 5 most critical issues facing Southampton Town? And, what suggestions do [we] have for addressing them?
F. RESPONSES From the CAC
Suggestion 1 concerns Assessments of property in the hamlets
One area of critical concern to the residents and property owners in our hamlet is the method and timing of the valuation of their homes by the Town of Southampton.While admittedly, values have increased over the last decade, the proceeding few years have seen flat to down values in real property and the future looks to be more of the same. Our experience is that the valuation process is too opaque and skewed. In asingle neighborhood wildly different land values are used and commercial properties are not brought to market in the same manner as residential. Further there has been a big rush to annual re-mark to the market when prices are thought to be rising but a lag ordelay in bringing down values in declining markets.
Jeffrey Vogel , a member of the CAC, has performed a summary analysis of the Bridgehampton school district property tax rise over the past 7 years. We suggest that the town request the Town Assessor meet with the CACs to explain and defend the assessment and grievance process of the Town.
Suggestion 2 That the town boards and departments concerned with permits and code enforcements develop procedures aimed at expediting rulings, inspections, application grants and amendments . Our business community and our residents are dismayed by the lengthy delays in initiations and approvals of applications. We note that the departments entrusted with these procedures are for the most part tax revenue neutral, but are financed by flexible ever increasing fees, so any added expense to the town budget for better expedition of these issues should not be a problem.
Suggestion 3. That the town administration and all its departments make an increased effort to respond to its residents by direct contact . Information sharing between town employees and residents in a personal and speedy manner will do much to prevent misunderstandings. Direct responses rather than call machine messages really make a difference.
Suggestion 4. That the Police Department and Transportation Department address the totally seasonal traffic problem as it affects the lateral roads to the Montauk Highway. Cooperation with and by the Town and County Transportation Departments and the Police Department and Policemen’s Union should surely be able to develop seasonal employment of officers to address the alarming scale of moving traffic violations during the busy summer tourist and summer resident period.
Suggestion 5. That there be a serious attempt to identify the hunger problem that probably exists in Southampton, particularly during the off seasons when employment opportunities lessen. Questions that arise are: Is there a substantial number of residents and/or itinerant persons who suffer from hunger at any time that they are located within the town boundaries? Are there agencies that presently serve adequate nourishment to those that are hungry? What additional agencies and financial sources are required to serve adequate nourishment to the hungry? Will the town take a leadership role in finding the sources to provide adequate nourishment to the hungry, as other communities have, including the City of New York?
F. The Children’s Museum of the Hamptons is inviting suggestions for cooperative bond funding opportunities to support town based non profit organizations. Since the amounts usually sought are lower than is normally practical for a municipal offering, the thought is proposed to combine the needs of a number of organizations into a combined offering. The CAC also suggested that that there were opportunities for special low capital bond offerings marketed by investment institutions through private placings.
G. The Poxabogue Golf Course Restaurant located in Sagaponack has long been an affordable establishment, serving the East End and particularly its neighboring hamlets with one of the very few moderate priced eating spots in the area. Since the golf complex and golf course were purchased by the Towns of Southampton and East Hampton using tax payer revenues from the two towns, the CAC feels it would be wrong to deny Southampton and East Hampton tax payers the value of one of the only two affordable eateries in the near neighborhood. Indeed, if Community Preservation Fund dollars were involved in the purchase, the CAC questions the legality of a projected plan to replace this restaurant with an “updated,” perhaps, but certainly less affordable establishment. The purchase of this business and property was intended, properly, to serve the communities that supplied the funds. There appears instead a serious goal by the probable applicant to market the restaurant lease for a quick profit rather than to encourage the present tenant to continue to serve the community affordable meals as he has for a number of years.
This report is submitted by Fred Cammann, Chair of the Bridgehampton CAC firstname.lastname@example.org