A decision on whether to limit the number of 4x4s permitted on the Road G beach in Southampton Village will not be made until after the summer, Mayor Mark Epley said Monday.
Following public hearings on the matter that started in the spring and ended last week, Epley said in a telephone interview Monday that on the advice of village attorneys the board of trustees will continue to study the question of whether to put a cap on the number of 4x4s allowed on the stretch of beach known as the “Picnic Area.”
Epley said other locations for beach driving in the village would be studied.
For generations anyone with the proper village permit has been allowed to drive their 4x4s onto the beach and park in the sand - and it’s a tradition hundreds in the public hearings fought to keep.
Though some expected the trustees to make a decision soon after last week’s final public hearing, Epley said that the board would continue contemplating the issue over the summer by continuing to monitor the environmental and other impacts of the practice.
Epley, an admitted proponent of the 4x4 tradition, had recommended limiting the number of 4x4s allowed on the beach at any one time to 175.
The mayor said he was trying to come up with an acceptable number to prevent two lawsuits filed by homeowners in the beach area who found the tradition unsafe and an environmental hazard from going forward.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuits said that the 2,000-linear-foot stretch of beach on Meadow Lane known by locals as “the picnic area” should not be used as a “parking lot” or “roadway” for 4x4s. Some said no number of 4x4s should be allowed on the beach.