Quigley: Proposed Limit on Gatherings In East Hampton Town May Languish

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A proposal to limit organized gatherings in East Hampton Town—legislation drafted in response to complaints about backyard volleyball tournaments in Springs—will likely languish and “die on the vine,” its sponsor, Republican Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said this week.

“It’s controversial and people don’t want to touch controversial things,” Ms. Quigley, the Springs liaison, said in a phone interview. A draft law Ms. Quigley spearheaded in response to community complaints seeks to limit gatherings to 15 people no more than three times a month, figures she has admitted are intentionally low, because, she said, the process to amend proposed legislation is smoother when it is made less restrictive and more difficult when it starts out too lax and is made more stringent, following public hearings.

But the draft failed to make it to a public hearing earlier this month, after board members Peter Van Scoyoc and Sylvia Overby, both Democrats, said they would like more time to discuss the issue and gather resident feedback.

The issue popped up again during a public comment portion of a Town Board meeting last Thursday, August 15, when Springs resident Connie Kenney reiterated her complaints about how the ongoing volleyball games in her neighborhood are disruptive to others and urged the board to make its proposed law even stricter by limiting the gatherings to once a month.

This time around, she upped the urgency of her message by alleging that those involved in the games are running illegal, commercial ventures on residential properties by selling beer and charging players fees.

She told the board that she just became aware of this facet, but that it is apparently common knowledge.

She also lamented how she has been accused of not liking the participants in the games because of their ethnicity, which she did not mention, although complaints most commonly center around the activities occurring at Latino households.

She said she has reported her complaints to police and code enforcement.

Although Ms. Kenney has been most outspoken on the issue lately, a few residents also complained about the games last week, as well as what they see as a lack of code enforcement overall, an underlying theme in recent town meetings.

Ms. Quigley said that since last Thursday’s meeting, her fellow board members have not broached the topic again and that she would probably not do so because she had done her part.

“We were presented with a problem. We offered a suggestion, but nothing will get done when we’re gone,” she said, referring to her and fellow lame duck Republican Bill Wilkinson, the town supervisor.

“Bill and I have been the only ones who have suggested legislation, and it gets ripped apart,” she said.

Councilman Dominick Stanzione, a Republican who has frequently sided with the Democrats, said in a phone interview this week that the law needs to be thoughtfully reviewed and that the town should seek out the guidance of its attorney. If Ms. Quigley opts not to pursue it, that is her choice, he said, adding that he doubts the board will tackle it by the end of summer.

Ms. Overby, meanwhile, said the law needs to be reworked and is not something she would consider in its current form. Among her concerns are who would be tasked with monitoring the number of activities per month, as well as the proposed number of activities allowed per month. A book club meeting, child’s birthday party in a backyard or a barbecue would take a homeowner to the limit, she noted. A book club also does not negatively affect neighbors’ quality of life, she said.

The proposed cut-off for the number of people allowed, 15, also infringes on people’s rights and does not address the issue, she said. “There needs to be a comprehensive approach to this, not a quick fix here, a quick idea there,” she said.

Staff Writer Shaye Weaver contributed reporting for this story.

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