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Southampton to hold hearing on land use boards restriction

Southampton Town Hall is shown.

Southampton Town Hall is shown. (Credit: Erin Geismar)

A proposal to ban political committee members from serving on Southampton land use boards will be heard after all.

The town board Tuesday night voted 4-1 to schedule a Nov. 12 public hearing on the prohibition plan. A similar effort failed to get enough support for a public hearing in September.

The bill is sponsored by Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, the lone Democrat on the board, who reiterated that she felt there was a conflict of interest from members of land use boards also serving on political committees.

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Councilman Jim Malone, who originally opposed the bill, offered an amendment to make it only apply to newly appointed members of the boards or when members are reappointed. “I do see the concern,” he said. “I can see the appearance of a conflict.”

But, he said, he felt uncomfortable “changing the rules in the middle of the game” for those already on the boards.

Councilwoman Christine Scalera, a Republican, also voted to schedule the meeting but said she still had concerns about impugning the reputation of the board members.

Councilman Chris Nuzzi, a Republican, was the only vote against the measure.

Fleming’s proposal would ban political committee members from serving on the town’s zoning board of appeals, the planning board and conservation board. Five out of seven members on the town’s zoning board of appeals are members of the Southampton Republican Committee.

Fleming said after the meeting she was “delighted” that there would be an open discussion.

Southampton resident Elaine Kahl said at Tuesday’s board meeting that the town board should not take up the matter. “It’s an insult to the people who work very hard,” Kahl said.

Tags: Southampton

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