Residents living in the Village of the Head of the Harbor are up in arms due to a public hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 16, that considered allowing deer hunting in the area.
Citizens in the community said they not only disagree with the proposal but they also have a problem with the way village hall handled alerting them on the issue.
“This is a huge concern to the residents,” Julie Korneffel, a Head of the Harbor resident, said in a phone interview. “This goes against the town, which should preserve the natural aspects of the woods.”
Korneffel said that the code written “seemed purposely vague,” and she was especially unhappy with how little notice she was given about this issue before it came to village hall.
“There is a big concern for transparency now,” Korneffel said. “When paving is going on or a bike marathon is going to be held, we receive an email notice. But for this extremely important issue there was no email notice.”
Mayor Douglas Dahlgard said he thinks village hall did all it could to let residents know what is happening.
“We followed the rules,” Dahlgard said in a phone interview. “We put notices in the paper and on our village website. We do not have the budget to send out info every week.”
Dahlgard put a letter on the village website after the public hearing, informing residents of the status of the issue and how the public hearing went. According to Dahlgard, the letter should be mailed to all residents by the end of this week.
The public hearing was meant to discuss amending the town code to allow for limited bow hunting for deer on certain properties.
Currently, Head of the Harbor village code doesn’t allow hunting unless you have the consent of the owner of the property you want to hunt on and have a hunting license from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Hunting then can only happen during hunting season, and you cannot discharge a weapon within 500 feet of any house or farm structure.
Dahlgard said the village board is looking to involve the Head of the Harbor police to help monitor where and when hunting would take place. If this happens, aside from the DEC and the property owner’s approval, a hunter would also need approval from the police. The board of trustees is also looking into the minimal size a property would have to be in order to hunt there.
Dahlgard said he recognizes the concerns for safety people have due to the deer population.
“I am for protecting village residents from the overpopulation of deer,” Dahlgard said. “We know there are deer causing traffic accidents and devastating crops, as well as the issue of Lyme disease. We are looking into alternative options; we want to bring in all the info we possibly can on this issue.”
Although Dahlgard said he and the trustees are looking into alternatives, he does not believe village hall should be responsible for the costs. “It is complicated, because the costs of methods like contraception are very expensive,” he said.
In his letter to the public, Dahlgard updated residents on where the board plans to go from here.
He said he has asked the DEC to make a presentation on the deer situation on Long Island at the next public hearing, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. Deer fencing, birth control, culling and other methods will also be discussed, and the board will appoint a deer commission, consisting of volunteer residents, to address this problem and advise the board. It was also recognized in the letter that some residents felt code changes needed to be more specific.
But residents said they are still unhappy with how the issue has been handled.
John Lendino, a Head of the Harbor resident and deputy highway commissioner for Head of the Harbor, distributed letters to residents to let them know of the public hearing last week and urged them to go.
In the letter he said that at the Aug. 19 meeting the board of trustees made an announcement to have this code change drawn up by the village attorney and put to the hearing on Sept. 16. According to Lendino, when one of the two town residents who were in attendance opposed, saying residents weren’t warned and that there should be a larger input before this decision is put to hearing, the resident was dismissed and the vote went forward.
“It seems that this is being done to rush this law into passage in order to kill deer in the village immediately,” Lendino said. “I don’t see any benefits to this, it’s just going to endanger people’s lives. It’s dangerous, and it’s even more dangerous when you have a board like we have.”
Lee Stein, a Head of the Harbor resident, said the only reason she knew of the meeting was because of Lendino. Korneffel said the same.
“I don’t want anyone hunting on my property with any weapon,” Stein said. “They should be representing us as our board. I have grandchildren that play in the woods. There have to be safer ways to remedy the problem.”