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Confusion reigns over town’s beach parking and ‘beach buggy’ fees

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The fees charged by Riverhead Town for residents to park at town beaches or drive on Sound beaches will officially be going up if a proposal pending before the Town Board is approved.

Seasonal recreational parking fees increased from $10 to $15 per year and “beach buggy” permit fees increased from $35 to $45 per year “a few years ago,” but the changes never made it into the town’s code book, according to Councilman George Gabrielsen, the Town Board liaison to the Recreation Advisory Committee. 

“This is just housekeeping,” Gabrielsen said before casting his vote to schedule a public hearing on the code amendment.

“Nothing has changed fee-wise,” Gabrielsen said.

Recreation superintendent Ray Coyne said Thursday the fees have been at $15 and $45 since before he started working for the town in October 2005. He said there was a Town Board resolution adopted in 2004 or early 2005 making the change.

But the current version of the town code still has the old fees in it.

Last May, the Town Board adopted a change in the terms of both types of permits, so that they would run from Memorial Day through Labor Day instead of from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. However that resolution (number 326 of 2010) also stated the fees were $10 for a parking permit and $35 for a beach buggy permit.

The fee for senior (60 and over) and handicapped residents would remain unchanged at $5 per year. The nonresident parking fees — $150 for a year, $75 per week and $25 per day — would also remain unchanged.

The last hike in resident seasonal parking and “beach buggy” permit fees that made it into the code book took place in 2002, when they were increased from $5 to $10 per year for parking and from $25 to $35 for a permit to drive on Sound beaches.

A seasonal recreational parking permit is required to park at any town bathing beach or recreation center.

0605_beachThe “beach buggy” permit allows the holder to drive on Sound beaches within the town’s boundaries. The town’s authority to issue those permits has been challenged by a group of beach-front property owners in Wading River. They sued the town last year over its issuance of “beach buggy” permits, which the  property owners argue encourage trespassing upon their private beaches. See Sept. 2010 story, “Wading River homeowners sue town in federal court.” The action is currently pending in federal district court.

The proposed fee increases are scheduled for a public hearing at Riverhead Town Hall on June 1 at 2:05 p.m.