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Taxi Business; Is This Hypocrisy or Discrimination?

I was really saddened to read in the newspaper that the Town of East Hampton came down on my good friend, Eva for operating a taxi business on her property in a residential district. Eva is a great lady who I have known for over twenty five years. There are few people I know that have given back to the community as much as she has. She has volunteered in the architectural community, institutions, our town, county, state and nation. Eva volunteered on projects such as the Duck Project, environmental causes, green building causes, on committees and boards on the town, state and national level. I know her as a lady with a huge, huge heart. As a result of our economy, architectural projects became scarce for her so she rolled up her sleeves and did what she had to do to make a living and pay her ever increasing property taxes. To be fair to everyone involved in this situation perhaps the impact of operating a taxi business became excessive in a residential district but this kind of treatment to a fine member of our community seems over the top.

On the other hand it is possible to argue that the taxis are operating only when they are picking up and dropping off passengers. The act of hiring a taxi is when the passenger is picked up. When the taxi service is not operating the vehicles are parked at Eva’s residence. If that is the case then the town cannot discriminate against the taxi businesses alone and must enforce the same laws to carpenters, landscapers, contractors and the host of small businesses that park their pick-up trucks, trailers and cars owned by the business at their homes at the end of the work day. Since many times the books and records of these small businesses are located in the residential homes and many times workers are dispatched from the residences then they are also operating businesses similar to a taxi business without proper site plan approval and special permit as the town is claiming with Eva. This certainly will open up a can of worms.

Wait a minute!!!! The Town of East Hampton is operating a taxi business from the East Hampton Airport!!!! Instead of using cars the Town of East Hampton is using helicopters and seaplanes to pick up and drop passengers at the East Hampton Airport. The Town charges fees for the use of the airport and the Town collects fees on fuel used in the aircraft. Technically the helicopter and seaplane operators or owners may be tenants of the airport. Based on my observations the helicopter and seaplane taxi service started a few years ago. I do not recall when the Town of East Hampton applied for or received a site plan approval or a special permit for the taxi service or for the owners and operators of the helicopters and seaplanes. The operation of the helicopter and seaplane taxi service occurs over the residential district with a much greater impact than Eva’s taxi company. The videos and data substantiating that claim are on this website. The helicopters in the videos on this website are operating the taxi service mentioned above. Certainly the evidence of the negative impact caused by the Town run taxi operations gathered on this website are far more compelling than what one can imagine from four automobiles.

Shouldn’t the Town of East Hampton cite itself for a violation before the Town cites its own citizens? Is the Town of East Hampton just being myopic? Perhaps the Town cares more about generating income on its own property than it cares about the rights of residential property owners to peaceful enjoyment of their property. Perhaps the Town cares more about the few wealthy individuals that fly in these helicopters than us poor slobs in the residential district, north of the highway, who suddenly have to live with accoustic assaults from the sky. What will happen when I call the East Hampton Town Ordinance Enforcement Department to complain about the operation of the helicopter and seaplane taxi service at the East Hampton Airport? Will I get the same results that the complainers received that live around Eva’s house?

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