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West Hampton Dunes wants homeowner exemption for propane tanks

Westhampton Dunes Mayor Gary Vegliante said the village

Westhampton Dunes Mayor Gary Vegliante said the village may go to court over the exemptions. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The Village of West Hampton Dunes is prepared to go to court for an exemption to a state building regulation meant to reduce the hazard of using liquid propane fuel tanks.

Mayor Gary Vegliante said he had attended several meetings with New York Department of State officials to discuss exempting village homeowners from a rule stipulating that underground propane tanks must be placed at least 10 feet from any buildings, roadways or property boundaries.

“There is absolutely no danger or health and safety issue,” Vegliante said Wednesday. “We’ve met several times [to discuss the exemption] and we’re about to go to Albany yet again.”

A representative of the Department of State said the agency has “no authority to grant an exemption from any requirement of the Uniform Code,” which the regulation is a part of. Vegliante said village officials were never informed of the policy during meetings with state officials.

“I don’t believe they told us that,” Vegliante said. “I think our next step would be to go to court.”

Vegliante said during a June 23 board meeting that he would consider legal action against the state if the exemption was denied. Village Attorney Joseph Prokop said the nature of any legal action would depend on a decision by the board of trustees.

“That’s something we’re reviewing,” Prokop said. “It would most likely be in one of the state courts.”

Underground propane tanks are kept at a distance from the homes they service due to the risk of a gas leak accumulating underneath a house and exploding, Vegliante said. He added that this is less of a concern for the homes in West Hampton Dunes because they are all built at least 6 feet off the ground.

“It’s a sensible regulation,” Vegliante said. “However, it doesn’t really apply to all areas.”

As a part of their bid for an exemption, village officials hired an engineer from Bowne AE&T Group to evaluate the danger of the storage tanks to homeowners. Vegliante said the engineer found “no risk of an explosion.”

Robert Kalfur, the village’s building inspector, could not be reached for comment.

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