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Town Okays Smoking Ban on Guarded Beaches

Wed, 05/25/2022 - 19:31

The East Hampton Town Board voted unanimously last Thursday to prohibit smoking within 500 feet of lifeguarded areas at all town beaches. The ban will apply to tobacco and cannabis smoking and vaping and will be in place during the hours that lifeguards are on duty.

The board also voted to adopt written procedures for meetings of public bodies. Both votes followed public hearings at the same meeting, neither of which drew comments.

With respect to written procedures for meetings, the board began discussions last month on permanently allowing “hybrid” meetings, in which video conferencing would enable the board and its committees to participate both in person and remotely.

Covid-19 pandemic-era exceptions to the state’s Open Meetings Law allowed meetings to be held, and the public to participate, via video conference. Changes adopted with New York State’s 2022-23 budget made those changes permanent, but in order to continue with hybrid meetings, a county, city, town, or village’s governing body must pass a local law authorizing the use of video conferencing.

Permanent legislation must ensure that the public and media can directly access government officials in person. The public body must also establish written procedures governing member and public attendance consistent with state law, with those procedures conspicuously posted on its website.

A minimum number of members must be present, in the same physical location or locations where the public can attend, in order to fulfill the body’s quorum requirement. Members also have to be physically present at meetings unless they are unable due to disability, illness or medical condition, caregiving responsibilities, scheduled events that cannot be rescheduled or for which rescheduling would cause significant economic expense, or “any other significant or unexpected factor or event which precludes a member’s physical attendance at such meeting.”

In addition, under the adopted legislation, members of the public body must be able to be heard, seen, and identified during meetings. Minutes of any meetings involving video conferencing must include which, if any, members participated remotely. Meetings using video conferencing must be recorded, with recordings posted or linked on the town’s website within five business days and remaining available for at least five years thereafter.


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