East Quogue Elementary School will play host to a public hearing May 13 on whether to incorporate East Quogue.
The hearing comes after Southampton Town received a petition from the 15-member East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee April 3. Looking for local control over local decisions, the group gathered more than 780 signatures.
The purpose of the hearing is for Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman to consider the legal sufficiency of the petition. Objections to the legal sufficiency of the petition must be in writing and signed by one or more residents of the town. Any group of persons having one or more objections in common may make a designation in writing to be signed by of at least one but no more than three persons, giving the full names and addresses.
The East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee is led by co-chairs Dave Celi and Karen Kooi.
“We’ve stood up at many meetings and said this is how we feel, and no one’s ever had the ability to ascertain what we wanted,” Celi said in a previous interview. “We feel we have no voice. We feel Southampton Town is not listening. It’s time East Quogue takes its future into its own hands.”
The group began working together in November 2017, trying to figure out a way to be heard, but found it difficult when there’s no East Quogue representation on the town board, and the hamlet only makes up eight percent of the town’s voting population. It’s looking to have its proposed village manage building, planning, zoning, and code enforcement, but rely on the town for police coverage and public works.
Committee members said the main objective is a thin layer of government at the lowest possible cost. There will be a mayor, trustees, and a local architectural review board made up of volunteers. The only paid position, required by law, will be the village clerk. Kooi said while there have been rumors about wanting to model it after the Village of Quogue, she said the group is actually looking to mirror the Village of Sagaponack, which incorporated in 2005.
“We had booths set up at the post office and local businesses to answer people’s questions, and we tried explaining that we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Kooi said. “Sagaponack has proved it can be done.”
The proposed village includes the East Quogue School District and the Northern Fire District. This meets the legal requirements for boundary lines with the Village of Quogue to the west, the Flanders/Riverhead School District to the north, and the Hampton Bays School District to the east. Dune Road/the Atlantic Ocean is the southern boundary. Suffolk County voter registration data and Southampton Tax Map data shows 3428 people are regular inhabitants, which means at least 692 signatures were needed on the petition.
“The support has been overwhelming,” Celi said. “The goal is to protect East Quogue, and I think we’re going to achieve that.”
Just Schneiderman, a member of the town’s legal department, and hamlet residents will be at the meeting, which begins at 6 PM. East Quogue Elementary School is located at 6 Central Avenue. The public hearing must be closed within 20 days of May 13, and by 10 days after that, Schneiderman will need to issue a written determination.