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East Hampton officials may ban alcohol on two beaches

East Hampton Town Hall in East Hampton on

East Hampton Town Hall in East Hampton on Aug. 6, 2012. Credit: Ian J. Stark

East Hampton officials are considering a summer ban on alcohol at Indian Wells Beach and neighboring Atlantic Avenue Beach to address growing complaints about alcohol-related incidents.

The restriction would be in effect while lifeguards are on duty and would prohibit drinking an alcoholic beverage or carrying an open container within 2,500 feet of the lifeguard-protected areas.

The town code already prohibits consuming alcohol in public places, but individual beaches must have restrictions specifically posted, and the town board wants to limit the proposed ban to hours when the beaches are filled with families during the day.

Violators face a penalty of up to $50, 30 hours of community service and seizure of the alcoholic beverages.

Efforts to set a public hearing on the proposed ban were delayed last week after town Trustee Diane McNally raised a jurisdictional issue. She said the independently elected town trustees have jurisdiction over town beaches and that it would be improper for the town board to take any action until the trustees could first review and comment on the issue.

The question of jurisdiction is complex, and goes back to the town's Colonial history. While most towns no longer have separately elected trustees, they are active in several East End towns.

The town board decided to give the trustees a month to review the issue before scheduling its public hearing on the drinking ban.

Problems with rowdy crowds at Indian Wells were brought to the town's attention more than a year ago, after a website encouraging people to come with a 30- pack of beer resulted in 300 to 400 teenagers showing up and drinking during the day.

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