Georgica Beach Fence Fight Goes On

illegally installed fence at Georgica Beach
Recent storms have swallowed a big portion of Georgica Beach and focused attention again on an apparently illegally installed fence, which is partially underwater during exceptionally high tides. Morgan McGivern

    The State Department of Environmental Conservation has asked Molly Zweig, a Georgica beachfront resident, or her legal representative to meet with agents next Thursday in an attempt to convince her to remove the fencing erected seaward of her property earlier this year.
    The fine for erecting a structure adjacent to tidal wetlands can be as high as $10,000 per day from the time of the infraction. Ms. Zweig was cited by the D.E.C. on Sept. 9, but failed to respond in 30 days as required. On Dec. 12, Steven Angel of Esseks, Hefter, and Angel of Water Mill informed the state that he was representing Ms. Zweig.
    The East Hampton Village Board has scheduled an executive session to decide if and when to take Ms. Zweig’s failure to remove the fence to State Supreme Court. Both state and village have cited Ms. Zweig for erecting the fence without permits, and Georgica Beach-goers have complained that the fencing blocks access to the beach after storms.
    No one disputes that the rectangular piece of land abutting the beach just west of the Georgica Beach road end is privately owned, but whenever the adjacent, public beach becomes eroded — a regular occurrence of late — Ms. Zweig’s fence blocks access, according to Larry Cantwell, the village administrator. “The tide comes up to the posts and there’s no access. The bottom line is we want the fences out.”
    The larger question begged with each incremental sea level rise is, what happens when high tide encroaches on private property? Does it then become public? “That will probably have to go to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Mr. Cantwell said.