EMINENT DOMAIN COULD COST EH TAXPAYERS MILLIONS
AND IS TOTALLY UNNECESSARY WHEN FREE SOLUTIONS EXIST
120 families who live near the former “Truck Beach” pleaded with the Town and Trustees for years to prohibit summer daytime beach driving or to move the SUVs to a safer environment, away from young local children who are trying to get to the shoreline, but were repeatedly rebuffed. So they turned to the courts as a last resort.
The Town of East Hampton has admitted that SUVs are destroying the dunes that protect you during storms. Yet the Town wants to take the beach by eminent domain to keep SUVs there, which will cost untold millions of dollars and come out of your wallet in the form of a tax hike. There are cheaper, smarter, more eco-friendly beach-access solutions such as moving beach driving to an uninhabited beach that the Town already owns.
Free solutions exist. Visit our "Solutions" page to learn more.
Here is where the lawsuit and eminent domain (aka condemnation) stand:
- In February 2021 the homeowners were confirmed as the rightful owners of the beach. The Town of East Hampton is no longer allowed to issue permits to drive on the beach, thus SUV driving is finally banned from Napeague Lane to Shipwreck Drive.
- In public comments the Town is threatening to resurrect its condemnation action, which it had commenced in 2016.
Some facts about condemnation:
- Much of the East Hampton coastline is privately owned. The former Truck Beach property is not unique in terms of being private land. So why the town wants to condemn this private stretch where it will have to compensate 130 homeowners for loss of property value vs redirecting the SUVs for free to uninhabited beaches the Town already owns makes no sense.
- Those who have property taken by eminent domain are entitled to compensation for the value of the property's "highest and best use". Buildable land is not the highest and best use. In this case the highest and best use is as a private beach in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country. It is worth tens of millions of dollars to the 130 affected homeowners, which taxpayers will have to pay.
- The compensation for the of 22 acres of beachfront cannot be paid with Community Preservation Funds. The only way for the Town to pay homeowners' just compensation for condenmation of the beach is taking money from the EH Town budget from other more essential services, or the Town going into more debt. Either way it means a tax hike for you.
- Taxpayers will not have the opportunity to know the cost of condemnation before it happens. The Town has to take title to the property "blind" and then is legally bound to pay whatever a judge decides after the fact. If the cost is too high the transaction cannot be undone. The beach owners already have an extremely high valuation for the beach and plan to argue that in court. The cost could be many, many tens of millions, maybe more. Which could easily bankrupt the Town of East Hampton. Money that would be far better spent on essential social and emergency services, or not spent at all, since there are free alternatives to condemning the beach. The Town is literally gambling with the town you call home!
Sign our petition today and tell the Town of East Hampton to abandon condemnation and put the trucks somewhere else that's free.