Property Rights Update


Never been to the Hamptons, but I listen to a radio station out of eastern Long Island and here's their big news this week:

Concerned that landowners were clearing too much natural vegetation from their properties, the East Hampton Town Board yesterday approved new regulations to limit the practice.

The new law sets a sliding scale detailing what percentage of the natural vegetation on different size properties can be cleared. For example, all vegetation can be cleared on a quarter-acre lot but no more than 25 percent of the vegetation can be removed on a half-acre or one-acre lot.

"Clearing" is defined to include the removal of not only plants, but also ground cover including "leaf litter and other organic detritus."

Supposedly, the board showed mercy with a last minute change to allow the removal of poison ivy. But homeowners still need a permit to clear affected portions of their land, even if it's to plant a garden.

And while aerial photography helps fight terror and makes interesting magazine covers, it may be dangerous in the hands of municipal authorities. From the town's Q&A:

Q. My yard is already cleared and has been for many years. Does this law affect me?
A: No, if your lot was cleared before the enactment of this legislation. Part of your proof for the pre-existence of the clearing will be the recent aerial photographs taken by the Town.