No, the Village of Dering Harbor did not order a drone to fly over the home of two residents suing the village, Mayor Tim Hogue said at the village board meeting last Saturday. And no, it did not arrange to intentionally flood the couple’s yard, he said.
The mayor’s comments were in response to assertions from Brad Goldfarb and Alfredo Paredes in an email circulated to village residents that they’re being harassed over improvements to land that is the subject of a lawsuit they filed against the village.
“I don’t know where they’re going with this,” Mr. Hogue told the board and seven residents at the meeting, “but I just want to assure everybody that this is not based on any kind of discrimination.”
Not present were Mr. Golfarb, Mr. Paredes and Martha Baker, who joined them in suing the village in January over ownership of wide remnants of old roads that run under their lawns, driveways and hedges. Mr. Goldfard, on behalf of himself and Mr. Paredes, emailed residents after the village issued a stop work order for repairs on their driveway, which crosses a disputed strip, and a notice of violation for a large hedge they planted without a village permit.
“An attitude that was initially merely mystifying to Alfredo and me has begun to feel like a personal vendetta, and increasingly like discrimination,” Mr. Goldfarb wrote. A reporter from New York Magazine, where Ms. Baker formerly worked as a fashion editor, was in the area last week looking into the matter.
The village cited numerous reasons in requesting the lawsuit be dismissed and the Mayor asserted Saturday that research into the history of the lots done by the village should’ve been done by the homeowners.
As for the drone, the village traced it to a recreational owner, he said. And, there was no effort to flood the property, as rumored in conversations, rather, hydrants were opened to draw down the water level in the village tank for repairs, he said.
The controversy may spill over into the June 21 elections. Four people are vying for two seats on the board. Incumbent Brandon Rose, appointed in 2013 then elected in 2014 to serve a two-year term, wants to keep his seat. So does John Colby, appointed this year when Mary Walker resigned. Ari Benacerraf and Elizabeth Morgan are running; both sought but did not win seats in previous elections.
Mr. Hogue is unposed for a 13th two-year term. A write-in campaign by Patrick Parcells almost unseated him in 2014; they were tied at 25 but Mr. Hogue won 43-29 in a run-off amid accusations that both sides had inflated the voting rolls.
Also Saturday, Rob Ferris asked why notice for the May 7 meeting was “taped to the door, very Martin Luther-ish” rather than being emailed to residents.
A notice was submitted to but inadvertently not published by the Reporter, Mr. Hogue said, noting he feels email “distorts things and gets everyone inflamed.”
“I’m sorry that you have a distaste for email, it’s a great way to communicate,” said Mr. Ferris.
In other business: Mayor Hogue said assessed values for Dering Harbor rose on average 7.5% percent since 2015; and election poll watchers will be Esther Hunt, of Dering Harbor, and Wade Badger and Lynn Thompson, residents of the Town of Shelter Island chosen to avoid “appearance of conflict of interest,” the mayor said.