City restricts truck access to beach – Dan’s Papers

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Photo: Ivan Mikhaylov/123RF

The city of East Hampton is reluctantly enforcing a New York state court order prohibiting off-roaders from driving on Truck Beach in Napeague after the city recently lost an access lawsuit.

After a panel of appeals court judges in February overturned a lower court’s ruling that the beach was public land, not private, the court and city initially allowed drivers to go fishing on the stretch of sand about 4,000 feet west of Napeague. State Park. But on June 4, the court granted a group of homeowners a temporary restraining order barring all public access, reversing the surfers’ exemption, while the city considers its next move.

“We must take all necessary measures to ensure our traditional access rights to the beach, not no matter where they are in the township, and I pledge to use every means possible to do it,” East Hampton City Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said during a city council business session on June 8. “But in the meantime, we ask the public to be patient and to comply until we get further clarification and chart our next step.

The state Supreme Court in 2016 dismissed a lawsuit by four homeowners’ associations claiming that Truck Beach was private, based on an 1882 sale of land by city administrators to Arthur Benson, and that the property was included in subsequent property deeds. But the Appeals Division, Second Judicial Department, reversed that decision this winter.

Van Scoyoc said the city is weighing its legal options. He can appeal the decision to the highest court in the state, the Court of Appeals. He can also initiate conviction proceedings on the beach to provide public access by passing the land through eminent domain.

If the city were successful, it would have to pay for the beachfront property out of its own coffers because the Community Preservation Fund, an open space acquisition program fed by a 2% real estate transfer tax, cannot be used for convictions.

“The CPF Act expressly prohibits its use for land condemnation,” said Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who oversees the program. “Another source of funding would be needed.”

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