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West Hampton Dunes, Village of - Hearing Report, July 2, 1998

Hearing Report, July 2, 1998

STATE OF NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
Office of Hearings and Mediation Services
50 Wolf Road
Albany, New York 12233-1550

In Consideration of the Preliminary Revised Coastal Erosion Hazard Area Map for
Oceanfront Property Located on the Westhampton Barrier Island within the
Village of West Hampton Dunes

SUMMARY HEARING REPORT

-by-

/s/
Francis W. Serbent
Administrative Law Judge

July 2, 1998

Background

Environmental Conservation Law ("ECL") Article 34 (Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas), also known as the "Shoreowner's Protection Act," recognizes the need to safeguard beaches and coastal areas from erosion caused by storm, flooding and the battering of waves. Article 34 is intended to ensure that activities in such areas are undertaken in a manner which minimizes damage to property and prevents the exacerbation of erosion hazards. (See ECL 34-0101, 34-0102).

Pursuant to this law, the Department of Environmental Conservation (the "Department" or "DEC") is charged with mapping critical erosion areas, notifying property owners, furnishing them with an opportunity to be heard, and issuing a final map (ECL 34-0104).

Once a final map has been issued, localities or counties are given the option of regulating these coastal erosion hazard areas with the Department's approval (ECL 34-0105, 34-0106). Where they fail to do so, the Department is then required to regulate these areas (ECL 34-0107).

After the coastal erosion hazard management program has been implemented, any person proposing to undertake a regulated activity within a designated erosion hazard area must first obtain permission from the regulating entity (see e.g., ECL 34-0109), except where the law states that its provisions do not apply. ECL 34-0113 specifies those situations where the provisions of Article 34 do not apply, e.g., situations where certain actions may have been taken prior to approval or promulgation of coastal erosion hazard regulations.

To implement Article 34, the Department promulgated rules and regulations found at Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes Rules and Regulations of the State of New York ("6 NYCRR") Part 505, the "Coastal Erosion Management Regulations".

In 1988, the DEC Staff ["Staff"] initially identified erosion hazard areas in the Town of Southampton. In 1995, the DEC published Coastal Erosion Hazard Maps specifically for the newly created Village of West Hampton Dunes. Since then erosion necessitated construction of the Westhampton Interim Storm Project, and the need to revise the 1995 Maps.

Proceedings

This proceeding involves consideration of the Staff's preliminary revised coastal erosion hazard area map for oceanfront property affected by the Westhampton Interim Storm Project located on the Westhampton Barrier Island within the Village of West Hampton Dunes, Suffolk County (the "Map") and prepared pursuant to ECL 34-0104(l).

The preliminary revised coastal erosion hazard area map sheets identify shoreline areas containing natural and manmade protective features such as the Westhampton Interim Storm Project, beaches, dunes and near shore areas that protect coastal lands and development from the adverse impacts of erosion and high water. These maps delineate as accurately as practicable the actual erosion hazard area boundaries in accordance with the requirements of ECL Article 34.

In accordance with ECL 34-0104(2), the Department scheduled a public hearing in order to afford an opportunity for any person to propose changes in the preliminary identification of the revised coastal erosion hazard areas shown on the Map.

Notice of the public hearing (the "Notice") was published onMarch 26, 1998, in the Southampton Press Western Edition and in the Department's Environmental Notice Bulletin on April 1, 1998. Individual Notices were also sent by certified mail to the Mayor and Clerk of the Village of West Hampton Dunes, and to each owner of record, as shown on the latest completed tax assessment rolls, of lands included within the preliminary revised identification of an erosion hazard area.

The Notice stated that copies of the Map, and the applicable statute and regulations, were available for inspection during regular business hours at the Village of West Hampton Dunes Clerk's Office, 5 Arthur Street Westhampton NY and at the Department's Region 1 Office, SUNY Campus, Loop Road, Building 40, Stony Brook, N.Y. The Notice further provided that on Wednesday, April 15, 1998, at 6:00 P.M., a public information meeting would be held by the Department Staff at the Westhampton Beach Village Hall, Sunset Avenue, Westhampton Beach to explain the Coastal Erosion Management Program and to give the public an opportunity to review the Map. The Notice also advertised that the public hearing would be held on April 23, 1998 at 6:00 P.M. at the same location.

Administrative Law Judge Francis W. Serbent, PE conducted the public hearing on April 23, 1998, at the above location. Due to the weather of heavy rain and strong winds, the hearing began at 6:30 P.M., one half hour later than advertised. The purpose of the hearing was to hear any person and/or receive written statements concerning recommended additions, deletions or revisions to the Map.

The Department's Coastal Erosion Management Staff was represented at the hearing by Boyd Kaler, Environmental Program Specialist, Bureau of Flood Protection, DEC Albany Central Office and by William Southard, Environmental Program Specialist, from the DEC Region 1 Office. The Map was available for reference and inspection at the hearing. The Department Staff was available to provided the public with additional information on the mapping process and the individual erosion hazard areas.

The three (3) people who attended the hearing made statements for the record in addition to DEC Staff's presentation. Mr. and Mrs. Barile initially expressed their intent to only listen but they then did take advantage of the opportunity to speak. The hearing was recorded on tape.

In accordance with the hearing Notice, written statements were also accepted for the record before, at and following the hearing through June 22, 1998. No additional statements were filed and the record of the hearing was closed on June 22, 1998.

Summary of Oral and Written Statements

  1. Mr. Michael Barile noted that the Westhampton Interim Storm Project resulted in a nicely constructed dune except where the original dune broke in the vicinity of his property. He noted that the transition from the constructed dune to the adjacent existing grade looked vulnerable to future flooding. He further noted the current lack of construction site cleanup leaves rubble that poses a hazard to the walking public.
  2. Mrs. Michael Barile does not want the hazard area boundary line to go through her house as shown on the Map. She wants the boundary line to be shown south towards the ocean and away from her house.
  3. Mr. Aram Terchunian represented the Village of West Hampton Dunes as their environmental consultant and praised the program and the progress made by Staff.

Conclusion

The Department's Coastal Erosion Management Staff should review the concerns of Mrs. Barile in locating the proposed erosion hazard boundary line on her property and then make any necessary changes as may be needed or warranted to the map. Upon completing this review and making appropriate changes (if any) the Staff should then forward the final Coastal Erosion Hazard Map to Commissioner Cahill for appropriate further action pursuant to ECL 34-0104(3).

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