Yet Again, North Haven To Rethink Leaf Pick-Up

Mayor Jeff Sander during the board meeting.

The village of North Haven’s autumn leaf pick-up for senior citizens did not work out so well this past fall, Village Clerk Eileen Tuohy told the Village Board at its regular monthly Zoom meeting on January 19.

It was the first time the village had limited its annual leaf pick-up to senior citizens who qualified under limited-income guidelines. “Some called in and submitted the required paperwork” to request the service under the new policy the village adopted in early 2020, Ms. Tuohy said, “but a whole mess of people” piled their leaves on the roadside even though they weren’t seniors or did not qualify for the service.

To remove the road hazard, the village had its public works employee, Glenn Ficorilli, pick up all the leaves. “So we’re back to square one,” Ms. Tuohy said, with the board once again facing a decision on “how to address” the issue next season.

The village has been wrestling the inherent unfairness of its leaf pick-up for years. The problem was that about three-quarters of the village’s homes are on private roads, where the village is barred from providing services. As taxpayers, those owners nevertheless had to help pay the bill for something they did not receive.

After months of public discussion, the Village Board in early 2020 elected to slash the $40,000-to-$50,000 expense of the pick-up by serving only seniors with limited incomes who had to request it.

An oil painting of Sag Harbor seen from the North Haven shoreline that Susan Dusenberry recently donated to the village of North Haven. It is signed “C. Breteke.”

With that first try having proved a failure, Ms. Tuohy reminded the board that she had presented three other options in 2019 for eliminating the pick-up as a general charge. Only property owners on public streets would pay, either by dividing the cost equally among all 367 properties that qualify; basing the cost on each parcel’s assessed valuation; or basing it on lot size.

Divided equally, the fee would be $129.43, she estimated. If based on assessed value, the fee would range from $24.32 to $583.89, with a leap to $2,780 for the former Maycroft property; and based on lot size, the cost would range from $28.07 to $143.50 for all but the former Maycroft property, for which the charge would be $3,320.

What to do about future leaf pick-ups was one of several issues percolating before the Village Board that remain to be settled.

Also discussed at the January 19 session were pending code revisions to address unkempt or unsafe properties and structures, such as an unoccupied house in North Haven Manor that was left standing in increasingly decrepit condition for three years before it was finally demolished last fall; and a property on Sunset Beach Road, the whole yard of which “is littered with junk,” commented Susan Reed, president of North Haven’s Manor’s board who attended the Zoom session.

“We should sit down with that individual,” Mayor Jeff Sander said of the owner of the problem property. As for the code, “Let’s leave it that it goes to the board to decide” whether to impose penalties for aesthetic problems on a case-by-case basis, he said. Meanwhile, the draft code revision “needs work” before it is ready to be presented to the public.

That was also the case for proposed revisions to lot-clearing regulations, which Trustee Terie Diat praised as “a really good change because it addresses the shortcomings and confusing things in the current code,” with “more flexibility for the homeowner” while “still protecting vegetation and the environment the way we want to in North Haven.”

Also in the works are changes to the dock code to clarify the required depth of water; the requirement for a wave-height analysis; and minimum distance from adjoining properties. Mayor Sander said a new draft of the proposals will be prepared for presentation at the February meeting.

The board agreed to withdraw another pending code change from further consideration that would have prohibited rooftop swimming pools. “When we discussed” the proposal, Mayor Sander said, “we decided maybe it’s something we should not codify. There may be properties where it would not be an issue.”

In other business, Trustee Diat reported that a voluntary subcommittee has chosen one of five proposals from cell tower builders to erect a tower on village property. She said the group was to meet with company representatives this week to “identify where a [site] solution might be on village property.” Hopefully, she said, a “project plan” will follow “then steps for approval including a public hearing.”

Mayor Sander reported that the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund was in the process of obtaining two appraisals for the Lovelady Powell property on Sunset Beach Road, which it is considering for acquisition as preserved open space.

The village has offered to pay for removing the existing structures on the site, including a 19th-century farmhouse, which the CPF is reluctant to acquire. The mayor said it might make sense to divide a half-acre from the 4-acre parcel and move the historic structures onto it and offer them for sale.

“I think we could get $400,000 to $500,000,” the mayor said, to use toward the open space acquisition. “I think it could be a real win-win,” he added. “There are a number of non-profits that would want to buy the house.”

In other business, the Village Board on January 19:

• Approved Eagle Scout candidate Troy Remkus’s offer to clear the overgrowth from the village’s North Haven Point trail system that rings Genet Creek.

• Agreed to pay $703,938.19 to Sag Harbor Village for fire and ambulance services in the coming year.

• Agreed to pay Corazzini Asphalt $49,687.75 for repaving of Fahys Road; the junction of Ferry Road and Bayberry Lane; a small section of Sunset Beach Road to correct a runoff problem; and a transitional segment of Oak Drive at Sunset Beach Road.

• Heard Trustee Dianne Skilbred report that the village-owned schoolhouse at Payne Avenue and Ferry Road will likely be moved, as planned, to the Village Hall property in the spring.

• Learned that Susan Dusenberry had donated an original painting of Sag Harbor as seen from the North Haven waterfront to the village and it is on display in Village Hall.

• Set a tax sale for March 17, 2021 for an unspecified property for non-payment of village property taxes. A legal notice will appear in this newspaper for three weeks before the sale.

• Set the village election for June 15. Terms will end for two board members on June 30, Teri Diat and James Laspesa.

• Agreed to ask Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. to ask the New York State DOT to consider lowering the speed limit on Ferry Road below its current 40 mph.

• Agreed to hold a special budget work session at a date to be determined after February 16, when Ms. Tuohy will present a draft to the board. A public hearing will be held on the final plan in April. It must be adopted by May 1 under state law.