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Laurel Residents Frustrated With Delay in Bulkhead Repair

Those with obliterated bulkheads on Peconic Bay say they are confused and frustrated by Southold trustee permit process after Sandy.

Nearly a month after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East End — especially for those living on southerly coastal areas — several waterfront residents on the North Fork are still staring at bulkheads lying in almost total destruction.

Two residents along Peconic Bay in Laurel said they are frustrated and confused by a permit process they see as unnecessarily time-consuming. Janet Soukup and Pat O’Brien, both longtime residents of Laurel, said that their bulkheads protecting their properties were built in the early 1980s and were never properly permitted for the Southold Town Board of Trustees, an entity that did not have jurisdiction over Peconic Bay until 1992, according to Town Trustee James King.

King and the rest of the board were busy granting emergency permits at this month’s Trustee meeting a couple of weeks ago — but they could only do so for people who already had applications in for previous work they needed done to permitted structures.

“We’re trying to do our best to get going on emergency permits, so people can rebuild,” King said. “But anything built previously to 1992 is considered an unpermitted structure, and we recommend they go through the process right away so we can approve them for repairs.”

Pat O’Brien, whose destroyed bulkhead and deck structures are shown attached to this article, said that she’s had to hire someone to take care of all the paperwork that goes along with getting the proper permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New York State Department of Environmental and the Town of Southold. Part of that paperwork is paying for a survey of the property in question.

O’Brien estimated she will end up spending upwards of $100,000 for a new bulkhead. Her house is close to the water as it is on a sandy bluff — and she fears that after the next storm, she’ll be dangerously closer without protection.

“What’s going to happen when the snow and ice hit this winter and we still have no bulkhead?” she said.

Lori Hulse, an attorney for Southold Town, said at the meeting this month that the Trustees have to abide by the code — if a structure has never had a permit, the owner has to go through the process, even after a hurricane.

Janet Soukup, who lives next door to O’Brien, said she didn’t see why there wasn’t something that could be done before the next storm hits. She said she cannot get rolling on the permit process immediately because her “permit guy is on vacation.”

“I can’t get anything approved now until January because the board meets only once-a-month,” said Soukup, who lives in New Jersey but has summered in the same house on Peconic Bay Boulevard for decades. “I’m still not sure where I stand or what I need to do, but my house and property are very important to me, and I just want to get this thing rolling so I don’t see further damage.”

King reiterated that he understands everyone’s frustrations but on another point, he’d like to see more work done to homes at the same time instead of piecemeal, because if one section of bulkhead is fixed and the neighbors’ sections are not, that could mean more damage around the repaired bulkhead during the next storm.

“I’d like to see a lot of these permits done at the same time, so contractors can come in and go right down the line,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to see a house skipped.”

Are you a resident still dealing with bulkhead repairs? Share your story in the comment boxes below.

justwondering November 27, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I feel bad for the damage these people sustained. However, the privlege of living on the water is not cheap and is the chance you take living to close to the waters edge. Bulkheads don't last forever and is part of the maintenance these people should be doing.
Erin Schultz (Editor) November 27, 2012 at 08:50 PM
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BOB PALADIN November 28, 2012 at 01:47 PM
i live across the street from the bulkheads folks...i have deeded beach rights but the bulkheads took away the beach ... now all i have is a stupid dangerous ladder that i have to climb down 20 feet yes 20 feet to get to the top of the water line. i spoke to scott 2 years ago and asked 'who stole my beach'.....he had no answer but on my property title it says i have a deed to the beach.. so who stole my beach and usurped my title......i know the lawyers around here would bury me in court costs if i dare to ask in court ....a a different bay front owner once said to me that 'if i had the money i would i could live on the water' well you have the money fix it yourself but replenish my beach too....
BOB PALADIN November 28, 2012 at 01:53 PM
and whats with the highway dept.. today they are picking up LEAVES give me a break ... last night the creek bridge flooded again..i foot of water at 4 30 pm... we almost died there during the storm yet its more important to PICK UP LEAVES than to fix the BRIDGE......stupid stupid stupid...the bridge is dangerous FIX IT ........
scott russell November 28, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Not once has someone come to see me to discuss beach ownership along Peconic Bay Blvd. in the past two years or before. You are welcome to come see me anytime to discuss this issue. I have copies of all deeds available from the Assessors office so no need to bring one unless you have it handy. Scott 765-1889
BOB PALADIN November 28, 2012 at 02:40 PM
yes scott i spoke to you on the phone about the beach when i asked for some guidance as to what we could do about the peconic bay speedway that we live on. how many times have i had a drunk or idiot on my front lawn making a turn because its fun .. we are serious considering moving out of Southhold and taking the business with us for the following reasons 1 we have no 'equal protection' as to the speeders in front of our house 2 we have no beach as per our deed just and we pay prop taxes for nothing 3 the highway dept debacle that almost killed us no real danger signage bridge has 'licquifaction on the supports underneath' the bridge has declined in height just like the 'katrina bridges' yes i a construction expert and yes I was there 4 increasing crime and the lack of enforcement on DWIs... try coming on main rd. after 5 pm mass@OLGC sat night...i have been run off the road twice by these drunks from the wineries we want to stay but i just dont see it changing ....
not a farmer November 28, 2012 at 02:48 PM
this is an outrage. special people on special properties don"t have special access to special permit process? dont you know they are special? why should they have to conform to codes and due process like the non-special ordinary people. its embarrasing. don't you know they are special?
not a farmer November 28, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Bob Paladin, You forgot to mention the Yellow Garbage bag scam. you sound angry. why dont you move?
BOB PALADIN November 28, 2012 at 03:22 PM
getting back to the bulkheads nature takes away and re deposits sand..the belt parkway in brooklyn had 3 feet of beach sand on it from the storm. the beach was replensished.. the beach will replenish its self if left alone .. you can dump all the sand you want , plant beach grass and some modest step downs see the great 'montauk point' restoration project its cheaper and more effective than a rolled steel bulkhead the benefits only a few people....
scott russell November 28, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Speeding is a problem town wide. Yes I get many complaints about speeding on Peconic Bay Blvd and Nassau Point Road and Main Bayview and Main Road in East Marion, etc.... The point is that the old narrow roads of the town were simply not designed for the speeds some people want to travel. We do what we can to enforce the speed limit but please keep in mind that the problem with speeding on your road is not unique. In fact, it is a problem everywhere. On the issue of beach rights, I do not remember discussing that with you and if I had, I surely would have told you that you are not assessed for beach rights so you would not be paying taxes on those rights. Regarding what you can do about them, again, feel free to set up an appointment, 765-1889
BOB PALADIN November 28, 2012 at 04:41 PM
not a farmer funny when tower two fell ...I went there to help.i spent time there did my duty lost lung capacity and eyesite restoration required 6 operations.. i dont run ...thats why i bother to write . i am so sick of the few running the many around here..yup we might move to a farm so i can rescue more marine corps IED dogs from iraq but i wont stay in southold .. my slogan for southold is where the landed gentry hold down the rest
BOB PALADIN November 28, 2012 at 04:50 PM
scott. we are all aware of the difficulty our PD has in being stretched so thin.[ look at the problem sag harbor has now, that they are looking to layoff the PD dept.Technology and good common sense can help curb speeding. i spoke to Jill last month[ nice person] invited me to come to a meeting] about placing a speeding digital sign for PBb like we have on main rd. I asked for a old Police Cruiser out of service like one at twin forks tire to be placed on my front lawn i asked for a couple of lousy STOP signs on the road to at least save an animal or two or maybe me and mine..old roads are not an excuse for high speed...this is a' clear and present danger' and needs to be addressed..that is the role of govt...not dealing with the idiot riveras' of the world.. we all have to focus on what right around here ....btw if you enforce parking fines on Limos in supermarkets lots for hours or other large lots near 48 they wont have the ability to pick up their drunks at 5pm
BOB PALADIN November 28, 2012 at 06:04 PM
if you want a low cost effective fix to the creek bridge on PBB Culvert lining system Snap-Tite Louisville, KY 800-CULVERT www.culvert-rehab.com A no-dig solution to culvert lining and rehab challenges, Snap-Tite’s patented joint and installation system replaces failing culvert piping without the removal of deteriorated pipe. Segments of HDPE pipe are "snapped" together, all with strong, watertight seals. With Snap-Tite, 95% of culvert repairs or rehabilitations can be done off-road. This means increased safety for both workers and motorists. Snap-Tite also meets AASHTO Standard M326 for relining culverts. MORE FROM THIS SUPPLIER ... to scott if you use a product like this under the creek bridge you can save a million bucks instead of replacing or re surfacing it
Roger November 30, 2012 at 07:09 PM
The issue is that the permit process has been accelerated in all of the other surrounding towns on the North Fork, but not in Southold. Those other towns recognize that Sandy caused a level of damage which the "normal" permit process cannot handle. Either the board needs to meet more often or special allowances need to be made so that homeowners can protect their homes from further damage. This is a once in a generation catastrophe which deserves a better response from our elected officials.
Roger November 30, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Cost is not what is at issue here. The issue is that the Town of Southold is dragging their feet in terms of issuing permits. All of the other surrounding towns have accelerated their permit processes due to Sandy. Why not Southold?
BOB PALADIN December 01, 2012 at 02:10 AM
roger special allowances for special people? Ursurping the towns authority or not bringing the army corp of engineers to do it correctly for the benefit of the bay not just a few homeowners is reprehensible. whats the rush? I heard from a noted realtor this week that more of the PBB waterfront homes are going on the market. I for one do not want to spend any tax dollars fixing properties i dont own so others can sell and get top dollar.There is a company in the Hamptons called Chesterfield Associates or Hudson Meridian in NYC reputable builders who protect shoreline . get them involved and then people like me will back the hell off.because we know the job is being done right not the way it was .. yes we need a town hearing but not to rush to benefit the few but to discuss what really needs to be accomplished here.' if you buy shore line you expect water problems but don't make your problems ours and dont put up illegal barriers that nature just took out. you sound like a rivera type litigate and waste our tax money on shore line non issues,,,
Hope and Change December 01, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Bob Paladin, All you ever say is that you are fed up with the town and you are moving. MOVE. who can stand hearing you all the time. OMG. poor baby needs to wait like everyone else... Move already. Im sure there is another town that has plenty to complain about. GO THERE!
Paul Leone December 01, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Government dollars are not used to rebuild private bulkheads. The only issue here is that the slow permitting process (for rebulding bulkheads that have been in existence for DECADES) is threatening the safety of the homes on those properties - if another storm comes along, those homes could be swept into the sea. Southold is the ONLY township which is not issuing emergency permits to allow homeowners to undertake the expensive job of rebuilding the existing bulkheads. Yes, this is the price that those who own waterfront have to pay, and no one is complaining about that. If is the red tape that is the issue here.
BOB PALADIN December 01, 2012 at 11:27 PM
paul you miss the point the bulkheads that were in place were either legal or illegal .within the code or outside the code ,that's my problem with a rush to rebuild . lets all ascertain whether or not they are actually part of the landscape or natural scene. i bet a look the old laws will prove my suspicions correct that they were just put there to serve a few and steal the beach from others.the bulheads like jettys of old redirect of sand replenishment. its easy to build and ask forgiveness than than to research it and do it correctly...many communities are facing this dilemma ours in no exception.
BOB PALADIN December 01, 2012 at 11:36 PM
hope and change yes we are looking at other places and communities in several states because we cannot get 'equal protection' from the govt in regards to the high speed volume in front of our home each day each hour.. its a shame that the taxes we pay line some old cronies pocket around here [yellow bag b.s. as an example] and the govt refuses put up some speed abatement methods on my speedway.... i get the message ,,,, but i will get my message out LOUD AND CLEAR.. if you cant stop the speeders what CRIMES can you stop. Soon when this nice place becomes another San Bernadino Ca. [the mayor said this week load your guns and lock your doors]because we dont have the money to protect you think of me on my farm/horse/large canine sanctuary far far away.

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