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East Quogue residents push for incorporation to gain local control

It would be the first Long Island village created since Mastic Beach incorporated in 2010. Mastic Beach dissolved in 2017 amid a projected tax spike, political infighting and federal discrimination lawsuits.

The East Quogue park, seen here on Aug.

The East Quogue park, seen here on Aug. 10, 2016, is part of the area a residents' committee wants incorporated into a village to gain local control over land use issues. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskervas

An East Quogue group is pushing to incorporate the hamlet as a village — a change they say would bring potential tax increases but give residents local control over land use issues.

East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee members cited issues that would be better handled by residents than Southampton town officials, including a proposed 118-unit golf course community once known as The Hills and contaminants discovered in private wells near a former town landfill. The golf course proposal is pending before the town planning board. Southampton has allocated $4 million to extend public water to the area.

East Quogue would be the first Long Island village created since Mastic Beach incorporated in 2010. Mastic Beach dissolved in 2017 amid a projected tax spike, political infighting and federal discrimination lawsuits.

“We are looking to gain local control with a very thin layer of government,” said Karen Kooi, a co-chairwoman of the East Quogue exploratory committee. “We understand that the villages have the right to govern themselves and decide on their land use where hamlets do not.”

The committee submitted a petition with more than 780 signatures to Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman on Wednesday. The document is being reviewed by the town attorney’s office and town clerk’s office. A public hearing on the proposal could be scheduled and, if approved by Schneiderman, a public vote could be set to decide the proposed incorporation.

The proposed East Quogue village would border Quogue Village to the west and extend to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Kooi and committee co-chairman David Celi said they envision a model based on Sagaponack VIllage, which incorporated in 2005 and holds intermunicipal agreements with the town to provide police, highway department and other services. Sagaponack Village, which is frequently listed as one of the most expensive ZIP codes in the nation, mainly oversees land use review and permitting issues, according to village clerk Rosemarie Winchell. East Quogue residents are mostly middle class, year-round residents, Celi said.

The incorporation committee estimates it will cost about $600,000 annually to operate as a village with $400,000 financed through mortgage tax revenue, permit revenue, and grants and shared services with the town and Suffolk County. The remaining $200,000 would be raised through the tax levy, which the committee website estimates will cost a homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 about $50 per year.

A draft budget calls for one paid position — a clerk at $135,000 per year — and accounts for expenses such as building rent. The village board would be unpaid.

East Quogue Civic Association President Al Algieri said his organization, which is critical of the movement, will dispute the signatures on the petition. Algieri said he is skeptical the board positions will remain unpaid and feared East Quogue would not be able to provide the same level of services as the town.

Algieri also pointed to other villages in the state that dissolved.

“They found when they incorporated it cost more money and it was harder to do,” Algieri said.

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