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It is always interesting to attend a local village board meeting. You learn a great deal about the problems of governing as well as what is going on in the local area.

At the December Muttontown Village Board meeting Mayor Richard Murcott asked if there was any resident who had come with a question. (They do not make residents wait until the board finishes their business before dealing with residents' concerns.)

A woman did have a problem with a noisy neighbor and what ensued was a discussion on the problems of people living next to each other and how they impact on each other.

The mayor said he didn't have the answer but that making a whole lot of laws was not a good idea. It leaves the village employees with the job of giving out summonses and just making people angry.

He said in effect, that we all need to be understanding of our neighbors and that sometimes they do something that annoys us, but that is how things go. The new neighbors that suddenly have a large and noisy party may be doing it on a one-time basis and they too have a right to enjoy their homes.

Interestingly when homeowners complained of people ignoring stop signs and driving fast in their section, the village found out it was the residents of the area that were the perpetrators of the indiscrections.

"You try your best," said the mayor.

The woman then discussed the issue of single family homes and that there appears to be "lots of cousins" in some homes.

Village Attorney Peter MacKinnon said the regulation states that there be only one cooking facility in the one family unit, a way of limiting the number of unrelated people living in a house.

The woman said to drive around and look at the lights coming from the basements, and the mayor said, "I'm growing plants in my basement!" He is a rhododendron collector and expert.

Another part of the equation of multiple dwellings is that in the Muttontown area many people own more than one car and that there are usually bathrooms for everyone in the household.

The woman said that in Southampton there is a law that there can be no more then five unrelated people living in a house.

Mr. MacKinnon said there is the issue of the "significant other" and whether they are part of a family unit. Also there are aunts, uncles and guests. "It's hard to say," he added.

Highway Commissioner Erasmus Tafuro said in some families there are the grandmother and grandfather on both sides of the family living in a house.

All this makes village board meetings very interesting. They are the closest form of government to the residents and their decisions are most quickly felt. It is great to see democracy in action. The next Muttontown board meeting is on Monday, Jan. 10. Come and listen to government in action. If you live in East Norwich, it's a great way to see what can happen if that area decides to incorporate.

It's 2005, another year to start good things. Happy New Year to all!

- DFK


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