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It is time this election came to an end
Connie Kepert, December 30th, 2013

 The Court of Appeals very, very rarely hears an appeal when the decision from the Appellate Division is a unanimous one, as it was in this case.  The people of the 4th District deserve to know who their representative is.  Open the ballots and certify this election.  It is time. 

For all those seeking clarity on the election I will attempt to briefly summarize what occurred in the race for Brookhaven's 4th Council District.  
On election day I trailed Mr. Loguercio by 94 votes.  On November 12th the counting of absentee ballots began by bipartisan teams at the Board of Elections, (BOE).  After counting all the uncontested paper ballots  I had received an additional 308 votes while Michael had received an additional 225 votes which meant that I had gained 83 votes and I now trailed Michael Loguercio by only 11 votes.

Ballots which were contested by the Republicans 32 ballots, or the Democrats 16 ballots, had to be decided in court.  Ballots can be contested due to a variety of reasons including signature issues, disagreement as to the date the ballot was received by the BOE, residency issues, and extraneous markings.

The Supreme Court of Suffolk County. Twenty two challenges were heard by Republican/Conservative Justice Carol MacKenzie beginning on December 3rd, 2013. Each side presented their arguments on the objected ballots. The remainder of the ballots were resolved by stipulation or withdrawal. On December 12th, 2013 the Supreme Court ordered only 11 of 22  ballots to be counted or opened.  As a result of the counting of these ballots Mr. Loguercio's lead was cut to 4 votes.  Because Justice MacKenzie also invalidated a number of ballots, my attorney filed an appeal on my behalf.  We strongly felt that decisions made by the Supreme Court did not follow existing case law, and unfairly disenfranchised voters. 

The Appellate Division:  The Appellate Division heard this matter on December 18th, 2013. There are four Justices on the bench at the Appellate Division. 
Five of the open ballots that were ruled invalid by Justice MacKenzie in the Supreme court involved voters who began marking their absentee ballots with check marks for the candidate they wished to vote for. These voters realized half way through the voting process, that they were supposed to color in the bubble, not check it.  So they went back and colored in the votes that they had previously checked, as well as, the remainder of their choices.  Thus, several of their votes had a little line sticking out where they had checked, and the remainder did not.  There were 5 of these ballots in question and  Justice MacKenzie threw out all 5 of these votes on the basis of inconsistent markings. My attorney cited numerous examples of case law on this subject.  Including  ample case law which states that, “A vote for any candidate shall not be rejected solely because the voter failed to follow instructions for marking the ballot” and only where it is “impossible to determine the choice of the voter for any candidate or ballot question” should that vote be considered void.  Therefore, the Appellate Division very appropriately ruled that the Supreme Court erred in invalidating these ballots and that these votes should be counted.  I gained an additional 5 votes. 

A second issue heard by the Appellate Division dealt with a ballot which the Republicans at the Board of Elections claimed came in late, but which Mr. Kasschau proved beyond a shadow of a doubt came in before election day.  The Appellate Division  again ruled that Judge MacKenzie erred and ordered that ballot opened and counted. When arguing for this ballot we did not know who this voter, voted for, since the ballot has not been opened.

The Appellate Division also ordered opened a ballot of a voter who lives with her sister, both vote via absentee ballots.  Her sister had mistakenly signed her voter envelope. She then properly crossed out her sisters name, on the envelop, and signed her own above it.  The law here simply states that the signature on the ballot and envelope must correspond with the signature on the registration poll record --- which was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were the same signature. Therefore, the Appellate Division ordered the ballot opened.  Again, when arguing for this ballot we did not know who the voter voted for since the ballot has not been opened. 

In a second signature issue the signature on the ballot envelope did not correspond to the signature on the voter's registration poll  record and the ballot was ruled invalid by the Appellate Division, this was a voter who had voted for Mr. Loguercio. Michael loses one vote. 

Mr. Loguercio's attorney's also cross appealed Justice MacKenzie's rulings on 6 ballots, all of which were rejected by the Appellate Division.

Unfortunately, although this decision was rendered on December 20th, 2013, neither Michael Loguercio nor his attorneys have taken any action.  No appeal has been filed, and they have not complied with the order of the Appellate Division to count the two ballots, described above, count the 5 open ballots; and remove from the remove one ballot that was incorrectly canvassed from the tally. 
 have been forced to file an order to show cause to force the Republicans, at the Board of Elections, to open those ballots.  In the close race between Judge Chris Ann Kelley and Barbara Lynaugh, Barbara joined Chris Ann's Order to Show Cause to open the remaining ballots.  She did the right thing.  Once again, I call on the Republican Party, and my worthy opponent, Mr. Loguercio to open the ballots and certify this election.  

Councilwoman Connie Kepert Honored by Farmingville Residents Association, October 24th, 2013
The Farmingville Residents Association honored Councilwoman Kepert for her hard work and dedication to the Farmingville Community.  As Councilwoman for the area Ms. Kepert brought nationally renouned planner Dan Burten, and Sustainable Long Island to Farmingville to conduct a community visioning plan, to create a path forward for the future.  Ms. Kepert also worked to bring community gardens, into Farmingville, and on several signficant development projects. 
“Last night I had the great privledge of being honored at the Farmingville Residents Association. FRA are a special group of positive people who work to give all Farmingville residents a voice in how their community will grow and develop,” stated Councilwoman Kepert  


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Supervisor Romaine and Councilwoman Kepert Oversee Demolition of Vacant and Vandalized House Located in the Overton Preserve in Coram

October 30, 2013

Farmingville, NY – Earlier today, Supervisor Ed Romaine (center) and Councilwoman Connie Kepert (left) and E. James Freeman, President of the Gordon Heights Civic Association, oversaw the demolition of a vacant house located on the more than 550 acre Overton Preserve in Coram. The long vacant structure has deteriorated over the years and become a target of vandals. The land is owned by the Town and County and preserved as open space. The Town’s Department of Waste Management is handling the demolition and removal of the debris to the Town’s landfill. The County will pay 50% of the cost of demolition.

“This demolition is another example of the progress we are making by removing old, vacant structures and cleaning up our communities,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine. “As I travel throughout the Town, I see many structures like this one and I am working with our Building, Law and Waste Management departments to increase our efforts to eliminate dangerous eyesores that threaten the quality of life in the neighborhoods.”

Councilwoman Connie Kepert said, “I have been working with communities all over the 4th District to remove blighted homes which serve as attractive nuisances. The house demolished this morning has long been a attraction for drug dealers and prostitution. This ecologically valuable property will be restored as part of the great Overton Preserve.”

E. James Freeman, President of the Gordon Heights Civic Association said, “Over the course of the past year, a Council was formed to combat illegal rental housing, drugs, prostitution, and homelessness in the Gordon Heights community. The Council consists of Rev. Beresford Adams, Rev. Thomas Gortman, Rev. Jeffrey Saunders, Legislator Calarco, Councilwoman Kepert, Supervisor Ed Romaine, SCPD Deputy Commissioner Risco Mention-Lewis, Inspector Palmeri, Deputy Inspector Fasanelli, DSS Director Oneill, DOL John Sarno, Pax Christi's Micheal Chiappone, Town Assistant Chief Law Investigator Paul Degen, the Town of Brookhaven Law Department, and myself. We have worked successfully together to bring into compliance a number of homes in the community, while assisting numerous individuals in finding better and safer housing conditions and treatment for substance abuse. We have as a team also had two pieces of legislation passed to protect and assist persons in the Community and have become the model for other communities in Suffolk County in how to better serve our community residents suffering from these issues.”

The Overton Preserve contains fields, wetlands and woodlands within the compatible growth area of the Central Pine Barrens. It is located in a Special Groundwater Protection Area (SGPA) and overlies the source of some of Long Island’s purest drinking water. It is identified in the New York State Open Space Plan as a Regional Priority Conservation Project, and is home to hundreds of plant and animal species including forest interior birds, American Woodcock, Great Horned Owls, and the state endangered Tiger Salamander.

New Carmans River strategy to be unveiled by town

Originally published: October 14, 2013 5:42 PM
Updated: October 14, 2013

Brookhaven Town officials appear poised to approve a conservation plan for the Carmans River, after three years of failed attempts to protect the fragile watershed from overdevelopment.

The town board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a 200-page blueprint that calls for purchasing various parcels along the 10-mile river and imposing zoning that restricts new construction.

The 5 p.m. meeting at Brookhaven Town Hall is to include a forum at which residents may comment.

Unlike with the previous administration, community opposition to the plan has been muted, and town board members have raised no serious objections.

"I think it's going to have no problem passing on the board. I think everybody will approve," said Councilwoman Connie Kepert, whose district includes most of the watershed. "I think that the plan does what it's supposed to do: It protects the Carmans River."

Previous efforts, including one promulgated last year by then-Supervisor Mark Lesko, fell apart due to concerns from environmentalists and community activists. Those concerns centered on wastewater discharges and the proposed use of development credits to steer builders to other parts of town.

Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister, who has served on a town committee developing the various plans, said earlier wastewater control plans had been inadequate. Under the new plan, developments would be required to use the "best available technologies" for removing nitrogen from wastewater.

"I think that's a real positive development from the new plan," he said. "This could serve as a model for other towns and other municipalities throughout Suffolk County."

East Moriches community activist Jim Gleason, a frequent critic of the town's Carmans River plans, said he worries the town's Zoning Board of Appeals could blunt the plan by awarding zoning variances to developers, and he questioned the town's land acquisition strategy. "A plan to protect the watershed and the water below it is a good thing," he said. "[But] it seems to me there are a few improvements that ought to be made."

If the plan is adopted, town officials must amend zoning codes to reflect its goals.

Richard Amper, executive director of the Pine Barrens Society of Long Island, hailed the plan as "a major conservation victory for Long Island."

"There will be more post-enactment work required," Amper said, "but at least the future of the river is going to better, not worse, as it had been up to now."

They’ll be hiring once BJ’s is completed

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI, Editor, L.I. Advance

 17 October 2013

Once BJ’s Wholesale Club is completed on the south side of Sunrise Highway at the former Bellport Outlet Shopping Center and ready to open, a hiring trailer will be located on-site.

“They always do it,” commented David Sloane of Certilman Balin, land use attorney for the applicant RD Management, of BJ’s. “We got the permits from Suffolk County Department of Health and the town and all the approvals and as soon as the demolition is complete, they’ll go ahead and build. A couple of the old buildings are down already. They will open some time next year.”

The 87,756-square-foot retail store planned will occupy the 10-acre-plus site, once a bustling shopping center with stores like Nike, Maidenform and Liz Claiborne. Former owner Allen Rosenberg of the Alrose Group purchased the shopping center in 2004. Tenants wanted to stay, he told the Advance, but wanted more stores to come in, as the Tanger Mall was taking its toll. After offering enticements — like free rent for a period of time — to no avail, he eventually fenced off the property in 2010; former Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko declared it a Blight to Light site.

Restrictive zoning also hampered the parcel, but that was changed.

“It’s J2 zoning,” said Councilwoman Connie Kepert. “They had gotten a couple of variances from the ZBA on the landscaping, but there is a lot of landscaping and trees and I would say it’s close to 23.7 percent on the site plan. There are trees on the islands in the parking area that separate the stalls, as well as trees on the buffer along the service road and shrubbery and trees on the borders, by Martha Avenue and the Royal Oak Diner.”

“They’re a very reliable outfit,” said Sloane of RD Management. “They built Island 16 Cinema by the Long Island Expressway and the Marriott Hotel in Holtsville and some other nice shopping centers.”

Kepert, who had been working to progress the project for several years, pushed a commitment to hire local residents. “I want to keep their feet to the fire and do a real effort to reach out to the adjacent community,” she said. “We’ll be meeting with them and maybe do a robo call to the community or a flyer when they are ready to set up the job trailer. We can’t get everyone a job but we want to give people that opportunity. We’ll be working with the Bellport Hagerman East Patchogue Alliance and also John Rogers of the Greater Bellport Coalition.”

Bellport Chamber of Commerce President LuAnn Thompson supported the addition of BJ’s to the community when RD Management filed their site plans in February. “I still feel the same way,” she said. “Some people have said it will take away business, but we have such great specialty shops and restaurants that they don’t have. With the new sidewalks and cleaning up the area, to me the more people you have coming down the road, the better, and if it employs people, even better. I don’t think an abandoned parking lot is a good thing.” Thompson said she hoped to put the chamber’s guidebooks in BJ’s.  “You’re not going to improve an area by staying empty,” she said. “Every improvement is a plus. It’s not a competition.”

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