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04/17/17 10:00am

Old, open book with a damaged cover.

50 YEARS AGO IN HISTORY

The Beatles signed a contract to stay together for 10 years, but split up just three years later in 1970. (more…)

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04/19/16 4:30pm
REPORTER FILE PHOTO

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

Savings in employee benefits and rising property values combined for a reduction in next year’s tax rate, Mayor Tim Hogue told those attending the April 16 Dering Harbor Village Board meeting, adding that he anticipates the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by three residents. (more…)

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04/24/15 2:00pm
JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Dering Harbor Village Hall.

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | Dering Harbor Village Hall.

The Dering Harbor Village Board has approved an increase in its 2015-16 budget of 1.9 percent – from $318,680 budgeted in 2014-15 to $324,800 — or a difference of $6,120.

The vote followed a public hearing on Saturday morning, April 21 in Village Hall at which Mayor Tim Hogue reviewed the proposed budget, line by line, for the six residents who attended. He said the budget remained relatively flat for the coming year with some exceptions. (more…)

10/16/13 2:23pm

JULIE LANE PHOTO

A large majority of Dering Harbor’s approximately 40 eligible voters live elsewhere most of the year, but that hasn’t stopped many from declaring the village home base when it comes to choosing where to register.

“My vote matters here, it doesn’t matter in the city,” resident Patrick Parcells said, explaining why he lists Dering Harbor as his primary residence.

That’s the case for many others, according to Mayor Tim Hogue.

“You can make a difference in a small community,” Mr. Hogue said. But those with other residences in Connecticut or New Jersey are likely to bypass calling the village home because their states have lower income tax levels than New York State, he said. Still, he estimates about 40 people are on the village’s voting rolls.

Mr. Parcells not only prefers voting in Dering Harbor, but tried to wrest a Village Board seat in 2012. He ran at large with three others — two of them incumbents — for two open seats. The two incumbents were re-elected.

He and others have charged there’s a lack of transparency in village government and too many decisions about village life are in the hands of too few.

He’s also charged there are some illegal laws on the books. He points to two in particular — one affecting regulations of moorings and docks, enacted in 2012; and the other affecting rentals in Dering Harbor, enacted in 2005.

Resident Rob Ferris is in the same camp. “When you pass a law, you have to make sure it’s legal,” he said, Some laws on the books targeted specific individuals and sometimes laws failed to grandfather in existing situations, he added.

“That’s not an indictment of Tim Hogue,” Mr. Ferris said about the mayor. “It’s an indictment of us.” If people fail to go to meetings and to pay attention to what’s happening around them, they have only themselves to blame, he said.

As for the two laws some villagers challenge, Mr. Parcells said the rental law was aimed at one resident, James Goldman. (Mr. Goldman refused comment.)

The law gives the mayor and trustees decision-making power over who can rent in Dering Harbor and is aimed at prohibiting seasonal house sharing. It references particularly group rentals that the law says could be “hazardous, unsafe, unsanitary and unhealthy” and could “interfere with the quality of life” in the village. Rentals may be permitted by the Village Board based on whether a group of renters resembles a traditional family “in theory, size, appearance and structure.”

There are residents, who if they don’t quibble with the terms of the 2012 law pertaining to moorings, argue the village has no right to control docks. That interpretation is open to debate. Shelter Island Town renders final decisions on dock building and repairs, but the village law skirts that issue, dealing with only surface water issues affecting safety, the environment or aesthetics. Town Waterways Management Advisory Council Chairman John Needham said his members haven’t faced a Dering Harbor dock building project in several years, but he believes the village rightly controls water surface issues. Village attorney Joseph Prokop has been non-responsive to requests for comment.

Charles and Martha Baker spent seven years fighting to build a porch on their Dering Harbor house, only to finally win their battle thanks to a decision made in the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court in 2000. Throughout those seven years they watched others win approvals with no difficulty. The record shows the Bakers have also had battles over fencing, changes to a dock and parking.
Mayor Hogue maintains that decisions handed down by Dering Harbor boards are rendered even-handedly.

It was back in 2005 that resident Esther Hunt, one of the village’s few year-round residents, told the ZBA during a hearing that members were appointed and not elected and accused them of being “very dictatorial.”

That the few who do challenge village government publicly are able to rally support from about half their neighbors may foretell the future of a more transparent village government. But it doesn’t answer the financial question some have asked about how to increase the tax base or cut spending.

A neighbor just outside the village, who said she spoke with Mr. Hogue about a suggestion by Mr. Goldman to invite surrounding property owners to become a part of the village, questioned why anyone would want an additional layer of government.

Anne DeStefano said she asked the mayor how she would benefit by joining the village was told she would get garbage collection services.
“I pay $25 a month now,” she said. “Why would I want to pay an additional $2,500 in taxes?”

When she sold real estate, she said it was very hard to market properties in Dering Harbor because of the extra layer of taxation.

“I don’t think they’re going to have any takers,” Ms. DeStefano said about the suggestion to bring other taxpayers into the village.
For those who live there, many said they knew about the extra taxes when they bought, but chose Dering Harbor because they felt it would increase their property values. Those residents point to the existence of an Architectural Review Board that ensures no changes will be made to surrounding properties that aren’t in line with the overall architectural style of the village.

Others, such as Mr. Goldman, see it as redundancy and question why separate planning and zoning boards provide better services than they would get from the town.

Still, there is no move afoot to dissolve the village government. Rob Ferris, despite his own concerns, perhaps sums it up best for many.

“Mostly … we all need to take a deep breath,” he said. “The village is a very special place.”