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Dering Harbor grapples with conflicts of interest

Mayor Betsy Morgan announced at the May 11 meeting of the Dering Harbor Village Trustees that Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) members Bob Ruttenberg and Ken Walker had resigned due to conflicts with former mayor Tim Hogue.

An attorney for Mr. Hogue had asked that Mr. Ruttenberg recuse himself because of “perceived bias.” Mr Ruttenberg chose to resign, as did Mr. Walker, out of concern that lawyers could say the same about him.

Mr. Hogue’s neighbor, Marian Brownlie, is on the ZBA, and had previously recused herself from considering Mr. Hogue’s case. The ZBA is to review unapproved work that Mr. Hogue had done on a site in the Village, which was completed despite a stop work order.

Meredith Jenkins, a current ZBA member, will replace Ken Walker as chairperson. Eric Deutsch and Devin Cross were named to replace the members who resigned.

The Board held public hearings on proposed changes to a number of local laws, all of which were adjourned to the next meeting on Satruday, June 8. These include:
• Amending the zoning code with respect to nonconforming buildings and structures on nonconforming lots.
• Amending the zoning code with respect to setbacks, structures and impervious surfaces for waterfront properties.
• Amending regulations regarding transient anchoring and living on boats at docks.
• Amending the construction law to limit noise-producing maintenance activities on summer weekends.

Trustee Patrick Parcell gave an update on water systems, reporting that the Suffolk County Water Authority was in the process of installing meters at all residences, which will help the village find leaks and violations. “There’s excessive water use here,” he said. “The Village uses 300 gallons per day per person, when there are 100 people or less living here.”

The use of Village water for filling pools and irrigation is prohibited. The meters will indicate if such uses are occurring. In an update on the budget, he stated that residents should see their tax bills lowered, since the budget was decreased by some 32 percent from the previous year.

Trustee Clora Kelly gave an update on deer herd reduction in the village. According to Animal Control Officer Beau Payne, hunters took 56 deer during the nuisance hunt, up from 53 last year and 47 the year before. He indicated that a 20 percent increase in the number taken over two years was a good result, she said.

The village election will be held on Tuesday, June 18. Voting hours are 12 noon to 9 p.m.