Mastic Beach residents challenge change to term limits

Town Hall in the Village of Mastic Beach Town Hall in the Village of Mastic Beach is at 427 Neighborhood Rd. The village was incorporated in 2010 and includes several historic sites. (July 8, 2011) Photo Credit: Carl Corry

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Some Mastic Beach Village residents have taken aim at the mayor and trustees for voting behind closed doors to extend term limits by two years and started circulating a petition to overturn the decision.

The board passed the resolution 4-1 in the Dec. 5 work session. The move would allow the mayor and elected trustees to stay in office for four years instead of two, starting with candidates voted in during the upcoming March elections.

Residents circulated the petition at Tuesday's village board meeting in an attempt to try to stop the resolution by having the issue brought forward as a referendum, provided 20 percent of registered municipal voters approve with their signatures, within 30 days.

"I love the village, I just don't like the way you all are running it," village resident Tom Fox told the board at the heated meeting.

He was the first of many residents who spoke against the proposal.

"You're putting the future of the village in jeopardy," he said. "It's about what the residents want and what they want Village Hall to look like."

Mastic Beach Mayor Bill Biondi, who voted to extend term limits, said after Tuesday's meeting that two years is not enough to institute a plan.

"When you start a project, you want to finish it," he said, noting he wants to increase property values and restore the village to its former status as a destination area.

During the meeting, the mayor asked every resident opposing the resolution to raise their hands. The vast majority of the roughly 85 attendees raised their hands.

This was not the vision for the village, said resident Betty Manzella, who supported Mastic Beach's incorporation in 2010. "They've done a great job, but what they did is exactly what we're opposed to" and the reason many opposed becoming a village, Manzella, 55, said.

Biondi believes the board made the right decision, but acknowledged he could have put the issue on the March ballot.

Trustee Carol Bissonette voted against the resolution.

"I believe the people should have been able to participate. To say they have a plan isn't enough," Bissonette said.

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