The East Hampton Village Board on September 21 adopted legislation, which prohibits smoking or vaping on any public property in the village. This includes all village streets, sidewalks, and parking lots. Although a revision was submitted for consideration and proposed to only include village-owned buildings, Herrick Park, village beaches, and any pavilion or any other improvement related to the beaches, the revision was not accepted.
Trustee Richard Lawler voted “no” on the proposed smoking ban. “I think it’s too broad,” he sated. “But I applaud the fact that we’re doing this. I’m not a smoker. I don’t like smoking, but I am a little bit empathetic to those who are smoking and may be trying to quit. It’s a difficult enough task and to then take away the opportunity to step out of a restaurant and be away from people to have a cigarette if it’s necessary . . . I’m not comfortable with that part.” With no further objections, the legislation was adopted by the rest of the board.
In a unanimous vote, the board adopted legislation prohibiting establishments located in the village from distributing single-use, plastic straws, unless specifically requested by a customer. This stipulation was added in recognition of medical reasons that may require the use of a plastic straw rather than one made out of paper. Merchants are allowed to keep a small supply on hand in the event a customer specifically requests one. The village’s action is part of a larger trend across the country to reduce the use of plastics to protect wildlife and reduce pollution.
The board also discussed a proposed amendment to the village’s solid waste law. According to Mayor Paul Rickenbach, the board has received numerous complaints about “people just dropping newspapers and other periodicals and other venue magazines. And for a great extent, they’re not on private property. They’re just helter-skelter on the public corridor.”
As proposed, the law would require that a publisher of a periodical have an agreement with a local tenant to accept the periodicals. Fines would be imposed for noncompliance. Kirby Marcantonio, publisher of Montauk Life and Hampton Life for over 25 years, addressed the board and admitted that he was “sensitive to litter and waste and the overdistribution of solid publications.” He said he was concerned, however, about the “free speech issues that I suppose could impact this law. That is, the right to distribute materials is something that has usually been safeguarded in terms of publications.”
“Public speech also has to do with the ability of local merchants to be able to communicate with their customers,” he continued.
Marcantonio added that it is important to his advertisers that readers view the ads in his publications. “The maintenance of their businesses is important to the vitality of each community not simply the Village of East Hampton,” he said.
“I understand that you want to keep the village as pristine and orderly as possible. However, the law as written seems vague at best,” he added.
Rickenbach responded, “We recognize constitutional issues and we’re not trying to usurp anything that would be detrimental to the right of freedom of speech, but again it becomes to a great extent many of these periodicals and other handouts become fodder for the sidewalk and trash, and it’s just a nuisance, so we’re trying to make it better.” The board opted to keep public commentary open on the matter until 4 PM on October 1.
The board began its meeting by appointing Christian Denton as a member of the East Hampton Village Police Department.