The Southampton Militia debates methods of defeating the British.
The Southampton Militia debates methods of defeating the British at Southampton’s Fourth of July parade.

It’s time to fire up the barbecue, celebrate our independence from the crown, and figure out just what the government is up to.

So many municipalities on the East End are at work on different projects that it’s hard for citizens to keep what’s going on straight. Here’s what the East End’s governments have been working on over the past couple weeks, and what they have planned for the weeks to come:

Southampton Town

For some reason, one of the top issues in Southampton Town Hall in recent weeks has been whether or not to give the employees the day off on Friday, which would give them a four-day weekend over the Fourth of July holiday. Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst promised the day off in her State of the Town address earlier this month, but she was initially thwarted in her effort by the town board before the board relented in a special meeting late last week. The politics behind that aren’t very interesting. Those of you who still want to pay for a beach sticker or call the police this weekend will find that police and beach attendants are, in fact, working.

No town board meeting is scheduled in Southampton this week, but when they return they will likely again take up the town’s proposed sustainability plan, which is under attack by a cadre of local people who think the plan is part of some left-wing United Nations conspiracy known as “Agenda 21,” a set of goals for controlling pollution, combating poverty, ensuring roles in the world for women, children and indigenous people and ensuring the planet can provide sustenance for future generations. Rallies against local initiatives believed to be tied to Agenda 21 have become a hallmark of the tea party movement nationwide in recent years, though Southampton Town Board members have denied their initiative has anything to do with any United Nations plan.

Anyway, if you can’t understand why Agenda 21 is a bad thing, maybe Glenn Beck can explain it for you.

Here’s Southampton Town’s sustainability plan, if you’re looking for some beach reading over the weekend.

East Hampton Town

The East Hampton Town Board also has this week off, the lucky ducks. They’ll meet again on July 9.

They’ve been busy in recent weeks trying to count all the deer in East Hampton, while the rest of the East End has been wondering if East Hampton’s time wouldn’t be better spent counting the helicopters that fly over neighboring municipalities en route to their airport.

East Hampton recently authorized an aerial infrared survey of deer, which counted just 877 deer in the whole town, just a third of the number of deer counted using a different method in 2006. East Hampton had been advised that the aerial survey method had been used successfully by the tiny village of North Haven (near Sag Harbor) before North Haven began a successful deer management program in the mid 1990s.

Inaccuracies in methods of counting deer has been an ongoing problem for towns that try to count deer. It’s akin to the problem of trying to count all the fish in the ocean.

Anyhow, East Hampton has now adopted a deer management plan, which calls for the town to increase the areas available for hunting, open hunting grounds to non-residents, participate in venison donation programs and lobby the state to decrease the 500-foot setback from houses required for bowhunters. Previously, the town had allowed people to take their deer carcasses to the dump for free.

Most of East Hampton’s proposals are already underway on the North Fork by Southold Town’s deer management program, which even provides a refrigerated box truck for hunters to bring their venison for donation to food pantries.

Southold and East Hampton aren’t the tightest of friends, however, and a lot of that has to do with the aforementioned helicopters en route to East Hampton’s town-owned airport.

East Hampton installed its first-ever seasonal control tower at the airport last summer, and again pressed the tower into service last week. It remains to be seen whether the tower will improve the traffic coming in over the North Fork this summer.

Here’s East Hampton’s environmental analysis for the control tower, which has a bunch of projections of how it could affect neighbors far and wide. Let’s keep track.

East Hampton Town also recently authorized the creation of the East Hampton Arts Council, joining a few other enlightened Long Island municipalities, such as Huntington and Islip, in deciding that the arts don’t just mean business, they mean fostering a more expansive world view for their citizens. Doubtless it also has something to do with Agenda 21.

Word on the street is Kate Mueth, the founder of the experimental dance troupe Neo-Political Cowgirls, will co-chair the council, where she plans to help artists reach their full potential in East Hampton Town.

Southold Town

The Southold Town Board doesn’t have this week off. They’ll meet today to discuss stormwater and wastewater and repairs of the brush grinder at the Cutchogue transfer station, as well as a plan to dump dredge spoil from Connecticut in the Long Island Sound just off the coast of Southold and Fishers Island. Apparently, Connecticut’s dredge spoil isn’t as clean as Long Island’s dredge spoil, and we don’t want it here.

Southold municipal government might get exciting later this month, when a long-awaited plan to change special events legislation goes before the town board for a public hearing on June 16.

Right now, the town only requires permits for special events at wineries and on town-owned property, but since everyone apparently wants to have a special event in Southold because of the loose restrictions, they are now being tightened.

If adopted, the new permit will apply to any event that exceeds the parking capacity of a site or involves a use of the property not allowed by zoning. If fewer than 1,000 people are expected at the event, the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals will examine the permit request, as it does now. If more than 1,000 people are expected at the event, the Town Board will also review the application. There is no mention of who will review the application if exactly 1,000 people are expected to attend, which will doubtless be of concern for nitpicking town board watchers.

Anyhow, Southold has been working on this project for more than two years, but farmers have said prior drafts interfered with their Right to Farm rights and wineries have been concerned it will put a damper on business, stalling the proposed bill from adoption.

No word yet on when Southold’s zoning plan for Plum Island will be adopted. It was tabled at the town’s June 18 meeting and is not on today’s agenda.

Shelter Island Town

Shelter Islanders are busy debating whether they should legislate keeping their skies dark at night. A wave of darkness has spread over the East End since East Hampton Town adopted the first dark skies law in 2006. Riverhead Town, which has arguably the brightest lights around, adopted their first local dark skies legislation in 2008, though most of Riverhead’s requirements are scheduled to be phased in through 2017. Every other town on the East End has since adopted Dark Sky bills, most recently the Town of Southold in 2010. In Southold, home to the East End’s only public observatory, Custer Institute, the measure passed with nary a comment from the public.

Riverhead Town

The Riverhead Town Board is meeting today to approve a bunch of special events and parades and fireworks displays, in an effort to get more people to want to spend time in Riverhead. They are also planning to pray with Bishop Emil Wcela, the retired vicar for the Eastern Vicariate of the Diocese of Rockville Center. They pray with someone different at every meeting.

We’re out of room and you’re likely out of patience, so updates on village government news will have to wait for another day. Enjoy the holiday weekend.


Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

6 thoughts on “What are East End governments doing, anyway?

  1. Frank would’ve liked this commentary, I think…
    As it was not in his nature to say he LOVED something, I think that means, damn good reporting there, Beth! You’ve summed it up!

  2. Hysterical. The only item you left out is the invasion of Portuguese Man of War Jellyfish descending on EH and SH beaches just in time for the 4th. JAWS!

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