Two weeks after a tense debate and vote to allow an 80-foot dock in Three Mile Harbor, the East Hampton Town Trustees moved toward enacting a moratorium on the construction of docks and floating structures in all waters under their jurisdiction while they develop a policy on them.
In a split vote on Oct. 25, the trustees agreed to allow John McGinn and Cary Davis to construct a dock at their bulkheaded property at 275 Three Mile Harbor Road, which they had long sought. At that meeting, Francis Bock, the trustees’ clerk, demanded the formation of a committee that would study the matter of future dock applications and issue a recommendation.
The trustees banned applications for docks in most waterways under their jurisdiction in 1984, extending the prohibition to all but the eastern shore of Three Mile Harbor in 1987.
On Monday, six days after eight of the nine trustees were re-elected, Jim Grimes, one of four members of that committee, said the consensus was for a yearlong moratorium on new docks. Shortly after that declaration, Mr. Grimes and Mike Martinsen, both of Montauk, left the virtual meeting to answer an ambulance call, though not before Mr. Grimes insisted that duck blinds be excluded from any prohibition.
“It looks like we’re trying to put hunting out of business,” he said as he left the meeting.
Susan McGraw Keber had also just left the meeting, leaving five trustees to discuss the matter.
Floating structures should be better defined, said Bill Taylor, a member of the committee.
John Aldred, also of the committee, said the intention is to develop a policy to be voted on at the next meeting, on Nov. 22. During a 12-month moratorium on the construction of docks and floating structures excluding duck blinds in all trustee waters, the trustees should conduct an inventory of docks in waters under their jurisdiction, determine which are legal and which are not, and issue recommendations at the end of their study, he said.
One question to be answered is whether to mandate the removal of pilings when a floating dock is taken out for the winter, Mr. Aldred said. That would depend on a determination as to the environmental impact of allowing pilings to remain driven into the seabed versus their removal. “That’s one thing when we’re talking about this moratorium and coming up with a policy on that,” he said. “It’s another with regard to the permit conditions we have to consider for the dock that was just approved.” If possible, permit conditions on the dock permitted last month should be “consistent with whatever policy we come up with.”
“There are docks out there, we’re not sure what the conditions are,” Mr. Aldred added. “We need to know . . . what are the conditions on all those relative to removing or not removing pilings. They may all be in the same condition, but I have a feeling they’re not. We have to see what’s out there and then determine what our policy will be.” That will take time, he said.
The policy should include the stipulation that maintaining pilings’ stability is the property owner’s responsibility, Mr. Taylor said. “I think it will be case-specific” as to mandating removal.
Members of the committee were to meet again this week, said Rick Drew, the only trustee who was not re-elected last week. “Everyone needs to bring their best research forward on pilings or not, so we can memorialize this.