North Haven Board Thinks Twice About Gift of Cemetery Fence

North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander. file photo

After a resident objected to the North Haven Village Board’s unanimous vote to let a property owner in North Haven Point replace a dilapidated fence around an old village-owned cemetery in the woods behind his property, the panel last week rescinded the decision in order to further explore the legal issues with the village attorney.

“I’m very uncomfortable permitting a cemetery to be on somebody’s private property,” said Susan Edwards, a regular observer at Village Board sessions and a member of the village Board of Architectural Review.

Speaking during the public input portion of the board’s busy August 11 Zoom meeting, she said any legal questions should be resolved — possibly by a lot line change — before a new fence is installed.

To be donated by James Perry, who owns the property at 23 Ezekillis Hollow Road, the fence is proposed to go exactly where the old one stood, despite some concerns about possible encroachment on Mr. Perry’s parcel. Its design was approved by the Board of Architectural Review last month.

After Mayor Jeff Sander and Village Clerk Eileen Tuohy explained the situation, the Village Board voted without debate or discussion to approve the new fence. But later in the session, Ms. Edwards spoke out against the move, saying she couldn’t see how any part of the old cemetery — which was given to the village as part of the preserved open space during the subdivision of a large tract known as the Stock Farm in the 1980s — could be encroaching anyone’s private property.

Trustee David Saskas, a professional surveyor, said there is a 3-foot encroachment of the existing fence line on the Perry property because “a grave is in the way.” He said there “should be an easement” established to solve the problem; Ms. Edwards commented that “there should be no indication” the cemetery or any part of it is “privately owned.” She called that “unacceptable.”

“The surveyor probably screwed up when they did the subdivision” in the 1980s, added Trustee James Laspesa. “He needs to grant an easement to the village,” he said of Mr. Perry.

Mayor Sander called for a vote to rescind the previous resolution. It was unanimous. He said he would “pursue a solution with Scott” Middleton, the village attorney.

Speed Limit, New Fees, Meeting Dates

Also at the August 11 Zoom session, the board without debate scheduled public hearings for its next meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, September 8, on a plan to reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph on Tyndall Road and Sunset Beach Road; and on a proposal to increase fees for Planning Board submissions and environmental and site-plan reviews.

The mayor explained that there are more joggers, dog walkers, bikers, and baby strollers than ever on the two village-owned roads and vehicles moving too fast. Residents have asked for the change, he said.

Ms. Tuohy said the new fees are necessary because of a surge over the last few years in applicant requests for “pre-meetings” with the planners and for permit extensions and modifications, taking up a lot of time and raising costs for staff’s and consultants’ time.
The new Planning Board fees will be $400 for pre-submissions, $250 per year for approval extensions and $500 for modifications to approved plans — and double that if modified construction went ahead without approval.

The environmental review fee will be $2,500, up from $1,500, and $5,000 for revetments. The site plan review fee for accessory structures will remain at $800, but will rise to $1,500 for new projects.

The Village Board voted to change its monthly meeting date to the third Tuesday of each month beginning in October because of the chance for conflicts with the Zoning Board of Appeals, which meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, two hours after the Village Board has been convening.

Village Elections Are Contested

In September, the third Tuesday falls on the 15th, which is village election day, so the board agreed to meet instead on the second Monday, September 8, at 5 p.m.

According to the nominating petitions that were filed by the July 30 deadline, there will be one contested race in the village election, even though four positions will be at stake.

Terry Diat, a member of the North Haven Manor board of directors, is seeking to fill the remaining year of the late James Davis’s two-year term as a trustee. Chris Fiore, whom the board appointed as the mayor’s suggestion to fill the vacancy after Mr. Davis’s death earlier this year, is also running for the seat.

No one filed petitions to oppose Mayor Jeff Sander’s bid for reelection or the reelection bids of trustees David Saskas and Dianne Skilbred.

In other business on August 11, the Village Board heard Mayor Sander report that the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund committee was slated to consider the possible acquisition of the Lovelady Powell Property at 19 Sunset Beach Road for preservation at its August 19 meeting.

Noting that the CPF panel is not eager to acquire land that has structures on it because of the maintenance costs, he said the village could offer to be responsible for the 1820s farmhouse on the 4-acre parcel. A pool on the property would need to be removed, he said.

Together with already preserved land to the south and east, the acquisition would expand the protected property to 30 acres, the mayor said. He noted the house is of some historic significance because of its age and the fact that John Sebastian and his group, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and other artists including Judy Collins, rehearsed there for a time in the 1960s.

The property is listed for sale “above $4 million,” he said, which he added might indicate Ms. Powell’s heir or heirs are looking to maximize the sale price, not negotiate a preservation deal with the CPF, which he noted was “not surprising.” CPF sales require a willing seller.

Among other matters at the Zoom session, the board also:

• Heard Mayor Sander report that Larry Baum’s 404A Bay Partners application for a dock permit for 59 Mashomack Drive would not be considered further until the September meeting because the village is waiting for the completion of a hydrological survey of the bay bottom.

• Heard Mayor Sander report that he would ask horticulturalist Chris Miller, who manages the village’s tick-killing 4-Poster deer-feeding-station program, to come to a future meeting to go over his latest tick-sampling report, which he filed in July.

• Heard Mayor Sander report that three matters had been turned over to the Southampton Town Code Enforcement office, which recently began providing enforcement under a new arrangement with the village. They were illegal rentals on Cedar Avenue and Maunakea Street and a trespasser in North Haven Manor, which turned out to be a police matter, he said.

• Discussed tweaking the rule limiting noisy landscaping and construction activity.

• Discussed plans for a dedication ceremony in September to formally name Ryder Pond after the Ryder family, which once lived beside it. Now village owned as part of the North Haven Point open space grant, it has long been known as Ryder Pond but is not so marked on any maps. The family requested a formal name designation and Ms. Tuohy said a formal proclamation was in the works for the September ceremony.

• Appointed Jean Cowen an alternate inspector for the village election on September 15.