At the April 14 Village of Dering Harbor Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor John Colby Jr. announced that the board had passed a revised hedge/fence law, enabling residents to now plant hedges with a minimum of a four-foot setback from the front property line, curb, sidewalk or paved street without Architectural Review Board (ARB) review.
However, the revised law continues to require ARB review of structural fences and walls residents want to build.
“This will help to put some of the old controversy behind us while maintaining what many of the Village Roads look like already,” Mr. Colby said. “Often removing a legislative burden serves to reduce disagreements.”
Approximately 12 village residents attended the meeting. Numerous statements were made expressing strong feelings in support or opposition of a revision to the law during the public hearing portion of the meeting.
One resident in extreme opposition to a change in the law is the village’s former mayor, Tim Hogue.
He did not attend Saturday’s meeting, but was represented by an attorney and a stenographer who took notes throughout the proceeding. The attorney read a letter to the board written by Mr. Hogue voicing his opinion on the possibility of a change in the law.
According to the revised law, hedge leaves and branches may grow into the setback, but its roots and stems must be four feet back. The village can still regulate the hedge if it becomes a nuisance, Mr. Colby explained. Hedges must comply with corner clearance requirements and hedges in rear or side yards are not regulated.
“Previously, hedge applications were reviewed first by the trustees then referred to the ARB, causing many unforeseen problems and needless litigation,” Mr. Colby said.
The controversy Mr. Colby referred to is a months-long debate over changes to the previous hedge law, which became a hot topic earlier this year when Mr. Hogue, along with resident Marian Brownlie, filed a lawsuit against the village, the Board of Trustees, the Architectural Review Board and residents Brad Goldfarb and Alfredo Paredes.
The action, filed in New York State Supreme Court on this past January sought a judicial review of a decision by the trustees to grant a license to Mr. Goldfarb and Mr. Paredes for a row of holly trees they planted between their property and Ms. Brownlie’s property.
Under Mr. Hogue’s leadership, the village had ticketed the couple for planting the hedge without permission in violation of a village ordinance regulating so-called “living fences.”
“It’s time to put this to rest. We really listened to what everyone said, we really paid attention to all of your comments,” said Trustee Betsy Morgan when the opportunity for public comment was closed.
In other business: On Saturday, the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) gave a presentation of their services in hopes of being selected by the village to manage its water supply and distribution system, rather than paying a village employee to be responsible for its operation.
The village has been reviewing options to pay someone else to manage the system following a 2017 drinking water debacle where high chlorides were found in both of the village’s wells due to leaks, a faulty valve and over pumping of Well #2, resulting in the well’s intake of salt water.
The village is currently in the process of installing a new municipal water tank, a necessary move after the previous tank — which dates from about 1955 — sprung 20 leaks during a January 2017 deep freeze.