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Southampton sets beach erosion control hearing

A $24 million "beach renourishment" project proposed in Southampton Town -- and expected to be paid for almost entirely by beachfront homeowners through two special taxing districts -- will be the subject of a public hearing next month.

Two representatives of those districts who also own homes there -- Jeff Lignelli from the Bridgehampton Beach Erosion Control District and Alan Stillman from the Sagaponack Beach Erosion Control District -- presented a joint plan Friday for a restoration project that would pump more than 1.8 million cubic yards of sand from the ocean floor about one mile offshore onto six miles of beach frontage.

In Bridgehampton, where the project would stretch from Flying Point Beach to Sagg Pond, the plan includes 84 parcels with a combined assessed value of $826 million. In Sagaponack, there are 57 parcels worth $977 million in assessed value. The properties there start at Sagg Pond and go east to the East Hampton town line.

The public hearing will be at 4 p.m. Aug. 17 at Southampton Town Hall, 116 Hampton Rd.

For Sagaponack, a home assessed at $10 million with 120 feet of water frontage would pay $13,741 annually for the duration of the 10-year project. In Bridgehampton, where just frontage calculations are used, a house with 120 feet of waterfront would pay about $10,794 a year.

Over at least the past two decades, the beach has lost an average of 31/2 feet of frontage each year, according to a representative of First Coastal Corp., the company hired by the homeowners to conduct a study on the erosion.

Each erosion control district is a special taxing district set up by the residents, and codified by town law in 2010, that allows homeowners with beachfront property to raise their own taxes to deal with erosion issues. Homeowners used to be on their own to truck in sand and get permits to shore up their beachfront properties.

In Bridgehampton, 35 of the hamlet's 73 homeowners contacted approved of the project, one said no, and the remaining 37 did not respond. In Sagaponack, 31 of the village's 52 homeowners said yes, one said no, and the others did not respond. In both the "no" cases, the houses were for sale, Stillman and Lignelli said. Board members asked them to try again to reach those homeowners.

If the town board approves the funding for the project, it is subject to a permissive referendum. If a petition, available at Town Hall, is signed by at least 5 percent of the affected homeowners -- three in Sagaponack and four in Bridgehampton -- then all homeowners within the special taxing districts will vote on the project.

Five parcels belonging to the town are included in the project. Town officials estimate that each homeowner in Southampton will pay about $27 additional a year over 10 years for the public portion of the project.

If approved, the project would start Jan. 15 and could be completed by April.

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