Fishermen reignite East Hampton beach battle

Class-action lawsuit filed for access to waterfront ruled to be private

Tri-State /
Mar.March 21, 2022 09:00 AM

Truck Beach (Facebook via Safe Access for Everyone)

Nothing enhances your property value quite like a pristine, private beach on the Atlantic — or erodes it like a parade of pickup trucks adorned with flags and fishing gear.

That explains the spate of litigation at East Hampton’s so-called Truck Beach, which ended in victory for homeowners who sued to rid their refuge of rod-wielding interlopers. Or so they thought.

Now East Hampton trustees and a dozen fishermen have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the entire town to allow trucks and other vehicles to return, Newsday reported. The suit aims to uphold the rights of town residents to use a contested part of a beach in Napeague for fishing purposes.

The complaint claims that fishermen have enjoyed access to the 4,000-foot beach via trucks and “wheeled conveyances” for more than a century to transport boats and fishing equipment. According to the lawsuit, the right for fishermen to use the beach was enshrined in an 1882 deed.

But homeowners along the beach recently won a case that ruled the beach to be private — substantially increasing their property values.

Five property owners’ associations involved in that litigation are being named defendants in the new lawsuit, according to Newsday. The plaintiffs include several commercial fishermen whose families utilized the coveted waterfront for decades.

One lawyer for the homeowners didn’t appear too concerned about the latest battle at the beach.

“It’s funny stuff,” James Catterson told Newsday. “The bottom line is the town lost and they’ve been trying to escape the effect of that loss ever since.”

The legal dispute over public access to what is colloquially known as “Truck Beach” began in 2009 when homeowners sued the town, wanting to stop the public from driving onto the beach. In 2016, a Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of public access, only to have the decision overturned last February.

The town then asked the Court of Appeals to take the case, but the high court affirmed the ban based on historical documents. Local officials, however, vowed to continue fighting the decision.

Ken Silverman, president of the Dunes at Napeague Property Owners Association, previously told Newsday that the organization was fine with commercial fishermen using the beach with permission, but opposed the use of trucks.

In October, police cited 14 fishermen for trespassing on the beach. The fishermen had driven their trucks across the beach in protest and were issued summonses.

[Newsday] — Holden Walter-Warner





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    From left: Basis Investment Group's Tammy Jones, BRP Companies' Meredith Marshall, and a rendering of 90-02 168th Street (BRP, Basis, iStock)
    BRP lands $378M for resi project in Jamaica
    BRP lands $378M for resi project in Jamaica
    17 West 9th Street and 15 Hudson Yards (BHS, Diller Scofidio + Renfro)
    West Village townhouse with $6M price cut snags priciest contract
    West Village townhouse with $6M price cut snags priciest contract
    LG Fairmont CEO Aaron Graf and Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (LG Fairmont, Getty)
    Boutique brokerage LG Fairmont joins Compass
    Boutique brokerage LG Fairmont joins Compass
    The glamping tent (Glamping Hub, iStock)
    Happy glamper: Tented Airbnb only miles from Hawaii volcano
    Happy glamper: Tented Airbnb only miles from Hawaii volcano
    1200 Silo Ln, York, NE 68467 (Redfin, iStock)
    Missile silo converted into apocalypse-ready home asking $550K
    Missile silo converted into apocalypse-ready home asking $550K
    Elvis Presley and his childhood home in Tupelo, MI
    Don’t be cruel: Elvis childhood home back on auction block
    Don’t be cruel: Elvis childhood home back on auction block
    Passage Island (Fay Ranches, iStock)
    Private Alaskan island that expands at low tide to ask $20M
    Private Alaskan island that expands at low tide to ask $20M
    A photo illustration of No. 15 Shouson Hill Road West in Hong Kong (Emperor International Holdings Limited, iStock)
    Hong Kong’s priciest 2022 home fetches $111M
    Hong Kong’s priciest 2022 home fetches $111M
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...