Big Government Is Going Wild in Poquott



Poquott is not all that welcoming these days

Poquott, a quaint little beach community, is poised to lose it’s charm. It is a small incorporated village located on Long Island. Until the mid-20th century it consisted mostly of farmland and summer residences. The Village was incorporated in 1931, and by the 1980’s, most of the Village was developed for year-round homes, which now number about 350.

The population was 953 in the 2010 census.

For the record, approximately half of Poquott is a wooded, rolling hills type of neighborhood, beautiful in its natural state. It’s nestled between Port Jefferson and Setauket Harbors.

Things are about to change!

There will be no more bird feeders….they draw rats! No more gardens….they are food for wildlife! Your house and grounds, even the wooded areas, must be kept pristine in your neighbor’s eyes.

If you wish you could, but can’t afford to repair your home….no problem, get the heck out, or Poquott is going to fine you every week and make your life miserable. We would imprison you (per a proposed law), but we don’t have a jail. Threats of jail work just as good though.

Tempers were flaring at the Public Hearing this past week. Residents felt intimidated. Many residents showed up and their angst over an overreaching big government was clearly evident.

Mayor Barbara Donovan reassured the residents that Poquott has no intention of enforcing the law. Well, they will only enforce it when someone complains, that is!

Selective enforcement will be coming to our community! We are declaring ourselves king, will chose what laws to enforce and who to enforce them on.”

Some of the highlights of the proposed law that will radically change Poquott follow.

Section 5 Part H. “ No person shall place food for the feeding of birds, fowl or other animals, in the open, in such a manner that such food is accessible to rats, rodents, pigeons, wild animals or other pests, except if such food is placed in containers which would prevent the scattering of such food upon the ground. The scattered food, if any, shall be removed from the ground so that it is not accessible to rats, rodents, pigeons, wild animals or other pests.”

Residents here care for a plot in a community garden area. Guess that will be gone.

One resident asked about the tomato garden in her yard. “After all, that is open to wildlife.” That is when the Mayor assured everyone, that oh no, basically don’t be silly. We will only act if someone complains.

They are pitting neighbor against neighbor!

One resident clearly spoke about feeling intimidated, worried that at any time her neighbors would complain. Is this the way people will have to live in their community?

Section 6. Part C. “Exterior walls, roofs and all openings around doors, windows, chimneys and other parts of a building shall be so· maintained as to keep water from entering the building and to prevent undue heat loss from occupied areas. Materials which have been damaged or show evidence of dry rot or other deterioration shall be repaired or replaced and refinished in a workmanlike manner. Exterior walls, roofs and other parts of the building shall be free from loose, improperly secured, and unsecured objects and material. Such objects or materials shall be removed, repaired or replaced.”

Are they going to send the energy police to your home to check your heat loss?

Section 9. Penalties for Offenses.
A. Any person, corporation or other entity, upon conviction of a violation of this chapter, shall be fined a sum of money of not less than $100 nor more than $200 or be imprisoned for a term of not exceeding 15 days for the first offense, and shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or be imprisoned for a term of not exceeding 30 days for the second or any subsequent offense. Each week’s continued violation shall constitute a separate additional violation. The Village reserves the right to seek any other remedy at law or equity against any person, corporation, or other entity that is alleged to be in violation of this Chapter.

All I could say is Wow!

I had prepared something to say at the Public Hearing but was consistently interrupted and could not finish my statement, but here it is:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

Let me begin with ….Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

This classic quote from Ronald Reagan will continue to ring true for all generations to follow. Poquott was that place, as many of the long time residents have stated. Where life was carefree. Where the draw to Poquott was that of a “live and let live” community. Everyone had each other’s back. When you met someone outside the community and you said you lived in Poquott, they were in awe! We were a very special community, the envy of all. The warmth of our special little haven engulfed you.

Now it seems we are tuning into a community that controls many aspects of our lives, all under the guise of the safety, health and welfare of the collective, and under the guise of preserving property values. We have been in a very difficult economy which is a direct correlation to market value.

Threatening those whose homes are falling into disrepair with fines and jail time is outrageous! Don’t you think that if their budget warranted it, they would fix it? And if not, in my personal opinion, that is their choice. It’s not the choice of someone dictating to them their vision of what THEY expect or want.

This is a very slippery slope. We are not subjects. We are individuals. We have the right to live as we feel. And demand to be treated as such! As long as you are not causing physical harm to someone, so be it. Who am I or who is any elected official to try to micromanage anyone’s lifestyle?

I understand and sympathize with those dealing with abandoned homes. If your neighbor’s lawn needs to be cut. Cut it. If you needed a helping hand, wouldn’t you be grateful to someone who helped you?

I have been a realtor for almost forty years and understand this process. In a foreclosure situation, please understand that we could do all the repairs, slap liens and in the end, it would be all in vain. The lender will bring the house to the auction steps and wipe away any lien on the property.

If a homeowner is in foreclosure, don’t you think they have enough to deal with? They are emotionally and financially backed to the wall. Is threatening them and imposing fines that they can not pay going to help? Where is your compassion?

If they are in the process of a short sale, again, the lender will negotiate pennies on the dollar on any lien to clear title, or not consider a short sale at all, and it will be vacant for many more years. May I suggest a mediator who understands the process, as well as the situation. A hand up instead of a hand banging on their head!

“Heavy undergrowth and accumulation of plant growth which are unsightly, noxious or detrimental to health shall be eliminated or removed” “Hedges and shrubs shall be kept pruned or trimmed”.

Who is going to play judge and jury here? I moved to the older section of Poquott because I WANTED to live in an area in it’s natural state. Is the village going to address the issue of poison ivy which grows like wildfire here in our community? Are they going to threaten residents with removing it or have them face jail time?

I don’t even know where to begin with the situation of the rats. We live by the water. We will always have rats and other wildlife.

I would be frightened if we did not have any wild animals left. That would mean that something is seriously wrong. I have lived many years in Poquott and never really saw a rodent problem. The real issues started when the sump was put in on California beach. Their territory was uprooted, so they found refuge in other areas. I understand that they are appalling to most, but they are an important part of our ecosystem.

Should we do away with our community gardening space? Wild animals feed there. Threatening those who utilize compost piles and bird feeders with possible fines or incarceration is another outrage. Maybe you laugh and say that will never happen. But with the law proposed as such, it sure could.

Section 6 which has to do with standards for exterior of buildings and structures is extremely disturbing.

Will we be subject to ongoing inspections by our Code Enforcement Officers? Will they have the power to do as they choose? Who is the village to prevent heat loss in a resident’s home? Or require that their roof be free of leaks?

Much of the wording in the proposed law is up to interpretation. Given the IRS targeting some groups, the over-regulating EPA, as well as the NSA surveillance, I do not trust any overreaching government bureaucracy to not target those who disagree with them and promote those who do. People are never outraged until the outrage is at their door. We must not let it happen to any of our neighbors.

Let us be a community to resolve issues, not a community to legislate behavior!

The proposed law: Property__Maintenance_Law_2014.doc