Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman announced on June 10 that he was sending the organizers of a drive to incorporate East Quogue as a village back to the drawing board by rejecting their petition to place the matter before the community for a vote.
The supervisor made his decision after a number of complaints were raised during hearings on the petition. Some residents said they were misled by organizers and believed they were signing a petition to discuss, but not necessarily vote, on incorporation. Others said they saw names on the list of residents of the proposed village who no longer lived in the hamlet — or were no longer living, period.
While the supervisor did find the names of 34 dead people on the list provided by incorporation backers, it is important to note that he found no indication of fraudulent activity on their part.
Under state law governing village incorporation, a town supervisor is in charge of determining whether an incorporation petition meets the legal requirements. The supervisor’s own opinion of the merits of incorporation is not supposed to play a role in his determination. To his credit, Schneiderman has upheld his side of the bargain throughout this process by refraining from any comment that would roil the waters.
This, despite the fact that if East Quogue were to incorporate, it would certainly have a negative impact on the financial health of the town by draining off valuable townwide tax revenue.
The ball is now squarely back in the court of incorporation backers. They are free to create another list of those who would be residents of the new village and collect the required number of signatures. That task may be easier said than done, though, because voter registration lists, on which the group relied, are out of date and it might prove next to impossible to get a completely accurate list.
It remains to be seen if the incorporation drive has hit a pothole or run into a major roadblock.