The Town Trustees representing East Hampton, Southampton and Southold towns will hold a joint meeting at Southampton Town Hall on Wednesday, February 12, at 6 p.m.
It will mark the first time that the members of all three boards have met jointly in nearly two years. Members intend to discuss their respective ordinances and restrictions, environmental concerns, legislative agendas and the host of legal issues they are facing individually.
“Each town has slightly different ordinances for docks and bulkheads, and a variety of issues we’re facing right now, and we want to get together so we’re all familiar with what the other one is doing,” Southampton Town Trustee Eric Shultz said. “Then we’ll have an executive session to talk about what we’re facing in lawsuits and state legislation efforts.
“We’re all impacted by what happens to the others, because what happens in Southampton can be used as precedent against East Hampton, and vice-versa,” he continued.
The Town Trustees in Southampton, East Hampton and Southold are the last three such boards in the state that remain as independent elected entities from the rest of their respective town governments. The Southampton Town Trustees are the oldest continuously seated elected board in the nation.
When they were first empaneled in the late 17th century, the Town Trustee boards were created as the main lawmaking and oversight body for each township on Long Island. They were given fee title to all lands that were to be held in common for the use of all town residents—namely the bay bottoms, beach “roads” for traveling along the waterfront of the bays and ocean, and roads leading to wood-cutting lots.
In the centuries since, other towns on Long Island did not maintain their Trustees as independent boards. The three towns of the twin forks, however, have kept them independent and the Trustees in each still hold fee title to common lands. In East Hampton, the Trustees own outright the ocean beaches in most areas west of Montauk. In Southampton, the Trustees hold an easement for public access to the ocean beaches.