Revived interest in erosion tax district

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An old plan to provide much-needed sand to the beaches of Sagaponack is afloat again.

According to Village Board member Alfred Kelman, several oceanfront property owners are interested in reviving the idea of creating a special taxing district to pay for sand to replenish the village’s dwindling shore, though Mr. Kelman would not say who is spearheading the effort.

“It’s premature. It’s totally embryonic,” he said. “There are a few key players who feel that reconnecting with the original town concept would be beneficial. They want to see if there’s interest among beachfront property owners.”

A tax district was originally approved by Southampton Town in October 2005, right after the village of Sagaponack was formed. Though the Sagaponack Village Board adopted the district the following May, 17 of the 57 property owners who would have been affected by the district forced a permissive referendum, which was shot down in July 2006 by a 19-3 vote.

Had it been approved, homeowners would have paid about $200 per year in additional taxes. Though the town had begun collecting taxes through the district in December 2005, it has since returned the money. The money would have been used to shore up beaches in front of private property and could not, by law, be used on public beaches, which would need to be maintained by the municipality that owned them.

“We supported it before,” said Mayor Don Louchheim, who added that the village will support the effort if it comes up again.

According to Mr. Kelman, if the residents are interested in forming a tax district again, it would have to be supported by Southampton Town as well.

“The town has to administer and approve the tax district,” he said. “It’s not about the village. It’s about extending tax districts throughout the county. Towns have to get together and people on the beachfront have to realize that taxes can do something. The essence of it is beach replenishment and breach protection.”

In other news, Southampton Town has agreed to remove several of the large number of fluorescent green bike path signs along Narrow Lane, Old Farm Road, Hildreth Lane and Poxabogue Lane.

In a letter to the Village Board, Southampton Town Public Transportation and Traffic Safety Director Thomas Neely said that the town may remove several signs along the route, though some have already been removed by vandals. He said that the town has not yet finalized its plan for which signs to remove.

“I’ve heard more complaints about this than anything else in the village,” said Mr. Louchheim.

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