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Town: Back to the drawing board on beach driving regs

COURTESY PHOTO | The Town Board will reconsider when driving on town beaches will be permitted.
COURTESY PHOTO | The Town Board will reconsider when driving on town beaches will be permitted.

Fishermen who packed the Town Hall meeting room Friday were met with confusion by the Town Board, which was unprepared for a public hearing on proposed changes to regulations for driving on the beach.

It was up to several audience members to point out discrepancies in public information disseminated on the topic. Supervisor Jim Dougherty adjourned the public hearing with promises by him and other board members to straighten out the confusion.

In June, the board decided to alter and clarify the town code when it comes to driving on the Island’s beaches.

Currently, the town only regulates beach driving on Crescent, Wades and Shell beaches, requiring permits of $25 for residents and $100 for nonresidents issued by the town clerk’s office.

Police Chief Jim Read told the board then that complaints had been made about people driving on beaches not covered by the town code and officers responding don’t have a law giving them direction on dealing with the situations. The chief noted that the spirit of the law in the code is that all beaches should be regulated.

One change that was not in dispute Friday is that the town wants to ban all non-residents, but the time frame allowed to drive, either from Memorial Day to Labor Day, or April 15 to September 15, is in dispute.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty said no action would be taken in the near future.

In other business, Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar reported that her office had received 10 emails complaining about construction at the residence of David Lapham on Hidden Path. The correspondence included complaints about “clear cutting of trees, water trucks using Hidden Path, a “new electrical pole, and so forth,” Ms. Ogar said.

Mr. Dougherty gave a brief financial report, noting that at the end of September there was “$2 million plus” in the town’s general checking account, $900,000 in the Highway Department checking account, $4 million in the Community Preservation Fund and $178,5000 in the ambulance reserve fund.