Hardy Plumbing
December 14, 2011

Beach Driving Lawsuit: Town, Trustees Win Another Round


For the second time a State Supreme Court Justice has sided with East Hampton Town and its Trustees over the issue of unfettered beach access on a stretch of Amagansett's oceanfront.

Last Wednesday Justice Melvyn Tenenbaum refused to grant summary judgment to a group of property owners who claim they own the beach in question. They have been trying to prevent a steady stream of trucks from parking in front of their homes and spending the day on the beach during the warmer months.

The same judge denied a similar motion by a motel further east, White Sands, to limit beach traffic.

"There'll be a trial," predicted Anthony Tohill, the attorney representing the Town Trustees. Better still, he added, the wording of the judge's decision seems to strongly favor the town's defense. "He's allowing the town and the trustees to assert statute of limitations events."

Tohill said old filed maps he's uncovered clearly state the area in question as being a pedestrian promenade. "You can't exclude the public. The people have the right."

Stephen Angel of Esseks, Hefter, and Angel, filed the motion on behalf of the property owners before the summer, hoping to put an end to the unfettered access to the 4000 foot long swath of beach favored by truck owners.

A group of beach-driving proponents, Citizens for Access Rights mobilized quickly and gained the support of local politicians to fight the suit.

The beach has long been a local hangout, and the property owners complain the numbers have swelled over the years, with 100 or more trucks sometimes parked on the beach.

The judge cited an affidavit filed by Milton Miller, a longtime bayman who said the beach in question has been open to the public for decades.

"There is no adverse possession," Angel countered in April. "You have to fence it. It has to be hostile. The [adverse possession] claim doesn't work."

But Miller's recollection – he is 95 – coupled with the inconsistencies of the boundary line on assorted maps makes the land a prime candidate for condemnation. It's sand used by the public. It has no value," Tohill said.

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