A deal struck by their predecessors in 1882 has come back to haunt East Hampton officials.
An appeals court ruled unanimously Wednesday that Truck Beach belongs to the homeowners who live along it, not to the town, which for decades has been letting the public drive all over it, the East Hampton Star reported.
Because all four Appellate Division judges sided with the homeowners, the town must seek permission from the state’s highest court to appeal the decision. Failing that, the town board said it will attempt to condemn 22 beachfront acres, from the mean high water mark to the edge of the dunes, through eminent domain.
The land in question is no speck of sand: It’s a gorgeous, 4,000-foot stretch of ocean beach on Napeague. In 1882, town trustees conveyed the parcel to Arthur Benson, with the caveat that locals could use it for fishing.
But the town has been letting people drive their cars and trucks onto the land for years, along with their beach chairs and umbrellas, to catch some sun and saltwater.
In 2009, homeowners sued, saying the beach belonged to them and showing the court documents that traced their rights back to the Benson deal. In 2016, a judge ruled against them but the appeals court found no evidence to support that decision.
The town said Friday it would seek permission to appeal.
[Easthampton Star] — Erik Engquist