- The on-going battle to hold sand in place along oceanfront beaches by using storm fences brought contractor Scott Chronis to Southampton Town Hall this week to engage in a lively debate with the Trustees who regulate access to the town's beaches.
Chronis, appearing on behalf of a wealthy client trying to shore up the beach in front of his oceanfront home located at 1620 Meadow Lane, objected to the $250 permit fee instituted by the Trustees last summer.
Trustee Fred Havemeyer pointed to the need to regulate fencing to ensure that
fences installed to hold the sand in place did not in fact become exclusionary
fences that blocked public access.
"Its excessive," Chronis charged, pointing to the permit fee and the additional $2 a foot for each running foot of beach fence charged by the Trustees.
"It could cost up to $3,000 to put these fences in," Chronis calculated, noting his client had already paid $250 for a previous permit and was faced with an additional charge of $800 to continue with fencing this year.
"My client is paying five figures in taxes," Chronis contended, noting beach preservation undertaken by private homeowners benefited the entire community. "He has money and could throw it around if he wanted to, but there is a principle at stake here."
"The permit fees pay for beach maintenance" Trustee Chairman Jon Semlear clarified, drawing attention to the work town crews conduct cleaning up yards of beach fence that are displaced by winter storms and blown along the shoreline like tumbleweed each winter.
Trustee Fred Havemeyer pointed to the need to regulate fencing to ensure that fences installed to hold the sand in place did not in fact become exclusionary fences that blocked public access and the Town Trustee's 50-foot right of way extending from the high tide line to the crest of the dunes.
Fences are installed in straight lines, or "W" or "U" formations, to hold the sand in place but may not be installed in a perpendicular position extending from a homeowner's property running down to the beach high-tide line.
"That blocks beach access," Havemeyer noted, referring to another long-standing battle and heated debate between oceanfront homeowners on Meadow Lane who object to four-wheelers driving along the beach in the town owned right of way.
Both Semlear and Havemeyer noted there were already 10 rows of buried fencing in place in the sand in front of Chronis's client's property. "I'd like to say it is one of the biggest houses I have seen in my life," Havemeyer commented, referring to the oceanfront home along the beach sparking the discussion.
As the debate ensued and seemed to wind back to previous arguments, Trustees Edward Warner and Eric Schultz went into a huddle. "This is going nowhere," Schultz concluded. "We will make a field trip to the property."
"I am all for the beaches," Chronis said in his defense. "My license plate is DUNESAVER. These fees are very discouraging."
"You aren't the only fence in town," Havemeyer pointed out, noting the fees were necessary to finance the Trustees enforcement process. "We have a lot of problems with fencing. It was getting out of hand. Putting in a fence is a construction project. That's where we are."