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Inaction Sidelines a Village Stance on Harbor Half-Acre

Hofstetter resolution exalting public lands in public hands fails for lack of a second amid speculation that threats of legal action intimidated trustees.

A resolution that would have put Mamaroneck Village squarely in opposition to Mamaroneck Beach & Yacht Club’s (MBYC) bid to buy state-owned land in the harbor never came to a vote when the board of trustees met Monday.

Drafted by Trustee John Hofstetter and threatened with lawsuits by the yacht club, the resolution was left in parliamentary limbo, failing to achieve a second from one of the board’s four other members.

Hofstetter attributed their reticence to the club’s explicit threat of litigation, not only against the village but individual trustees themselves. A letter to the trustees from club attorney Jonathan Lupkin warned of “substantial damages” if they supported the resolution, which he said simply reaffirmed the village’s posture favoring public ownership of public lands. At issue was a state-owned half-acre parcel in the harbor, which the yacht club has applied to purchase. More than a tack-on piece of added property, the half-acre represents part of the yacht club’s requisite square footage to support a proposed housing complex.

The club had asserted ownership of the land, citing a title company survey, but when the state’s Office of General Services (OGS) laid claim to the parcel, the club sought to buy the land from the state. The OGS, in turn, asked the village for input, leading Hofstetter to draft his resolution.

“The problem is, they [OGS officials] had asked our opinion and we didn’t provide one,” Hofstetter said. He declined to describe any specifics of his subsequent conversations with fellow board members, saying only “there will be further discussion.”

“I think the public has been done a disservice,” he said. Hofstetter called the board’s lack of action “embarrassing” and blamed it on the intimidation inherent in threatened legal action against the trustees as individuals. The threat was contained in Lupkin's letter to the board, read into the record last night.

At Monday’s meeting, Dan Natchez, president of the Shore Acres Property Owners Association, which opposes the yacht club’s housing plan, denounced the threat as “a new low standard for this village.” He said he regarded intimidation as “an unconscionable action.”

CARLDBIRMAN October 13, 2011 at 01:16 PM
I personally find it disturbing that this controversy drags on year after year. It is long past time for the Village and the Club to find ways to live together as good neighbors.
Chief Siwanoy October 13, 2011 at 03:54 PM
MB&YC has never tried to be a "good neighbor" and clearly has no interest in doing so now. It has sought to circumvent the Village Local Waterfront Revitalization Program since that sensible program was first envisioned by village residents in the early 1980's and it is the only private club that has taken such an obstructionist, litigious and belligerant position. Nothing new here.
j. desmond October 13, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Where is the State of New York in this argument? Why are they not protecting Otter Creek Wetlands? The MBYC is under a consent order from The State because they filled in land below the high tide line on their property without permission. The State has the ultimate responsibility and power to end this confusion. We need Them to step up and resolve this mess for us and the people of New York State. This piece of wetland, no matter how small, is worth preserving for all of us. The State has to make a decision and fast.
Doreen Roney October 13, 2011 at 08:08 PM
The Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees in 1984 established the Harbor Coastal Zone Management Commission and partnered with the Department of State through the LWRP to uphold these principles: The Village Board of Trustees is acutely aware that its harbor, coastline, waterfront and river tributaries, their use and their development are vital to the Village of Mamaroneck and its future. Additionally, the Village of Mamaroneck is concerned with the present and future uses in the development of the surrounding upland areas which affect the runoff, silting and riparian interests of the Village of Mamaroneck. ...the Village Board of Trustees recognizes that the coastal zone is a delicate ecosystem. Pollution, destruction of marshlands and failure to protect fish and wildlife can destroy that ecosystem. The Village Board of Trustees, therefore, seeks the help and advice and the recommendations of the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission, in conjunction with the Village boards and commissions, county agencies, state and federal governments and with the cooperation of Village residents, to recommend all possible actions to preserve the coastal zone. The Board of Trustees and village did not have a chance to even discuss or make their recommendations known to the State in this matter. The attorneys certainly made their positions known.
SRT October 13, 2011 at 09:11 PM
I believe this is the latest case of the BOT making bad decisions because of getting bad advice from their attorneys. Except for Hofstetter, the BOT were led to believe that they could be personally sued if they even opened their mouth about MBYC. Apparently none of their legal advisors told them this was not true. On the Lohud site this was put up about the legal doctrine that apparently keeps them from ever being sued as individuals "The Doctrine of Absolute Immunity insulates certain public officials from civil lawsuits involving the performance of their official duties. Included among those protected by “absolute immunity” are legislators in connection with their legislative duties and judicial and quasi-judicial officers performing judicial or quasi-judicial functions." The MBYC is rife with cases of the taxpayers taking a beating because of the Village's attorneys failing to advise their clients correctly. First it was handing over a million dollars on a flawed agreement, now this with the Village missing a chance to weigh in on protecting our coastline. Can't the Village sue it's attorneys for malpractice at some point?

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