Columns

Equal Time: Sound fence article didn’t tell the whole story

I am addressing the recent article printed in The Suffolk Times, “Neighbors: It’s a fence too far.”

The photo of the fence was obviously taken during one of the many storms and extreme high tides we have had this fall.

The fence, when installed, was well above the mean high water mark, allowing ample room for pedestrians to transverse the beach. It was originally 13 feet to mean high water and, after complaints, the Trustees asked that I remove one section, at which time I complied, leaving the end of the fence approximately 25 feet from that mark.

Both the code and the permit originally issued allowed for the fence to be within 10 feet of mean high water. Once again, this did not satisfy some people. They complained to the Trustees that the sign posted: END OF PUBLIC BEACH was not considered “neighbor friendly.”

This type of sign was provided by the town public works department to me, as well as many other waterfront property owners that border town beaches. Within two weeks of posting this sign, it was mysteriously removed and my fence was painted with malicious graffiti.

My family purchased this property in 1957, with split-rail fence in place extending to the Sound. The original and all subsequent deeds to our property state that our land extends to the mean high water mark. The property boundary was once again reconfirmed in a 2007 court decision (Christine Rivera, et al. v The State of New York). We maintained this fence for approximately 20 years. Thereafter, the Southold Highway Department installed snow fences on all beachfront properties that bordered town beaches.

These snow fences extended perpendicular to the water line and not closer than 10 feet to that high water mark, as dictated by Chapter 275, the wetlands and shoreline section of the town code. This practice ended in approximately 2006, when the Trustees began regulating the fences by permit to beachfront property owners.

I have adhered to the restrictions of my permit and have accommodated every request made by the Trustees. Many fences exist in Southold Town which not only extend to bulkheads, some extend into the water on a permanent basis.
Since 2006, I have allowed the DEC to fence off my property for nesting piping plovers, leaving only a small access path to the water for my family from April through September. During the summe

r of 2010, the only surviving newborn piping plovers were found my property.

“… As soon as they see somebody walking, they call the cops …,” my neighbor, Paul Calabro, was quoted in the article. I challenge anyone to produce a single incident report filed with the Southold Town Police Department where I, or any member of my family, has complained.

My family and I have been continually harassed for nearly five years by a few disgruntled neighbors. Both John Cleary and Mr. Calabro each have fencing on their property. I doubt either would appreciate individuals climbing over their fences, lounging in their yards, or simply trespassing on their properties as I have been subjected to for many years.
My intent here is to set the record straight and hope people will stop wasting taxpayers’ money and our town officials’ time over a fence that has stood legally on our property since the 1950s.

Ms. Rivera owns a Soundfront property in Mattituck.

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