Seafood lovers could buy clams on the half shell at farm stands under a proposal members of the agricultural community floated before town officials this week.
Members of the town’s agricultural advisory committee appeared before the Town Board during its Tuesday morning work session asking for the town to relax its farm stand code to permit the sale of fresh seafood in addition to fruits and vegetables.
Committee member Chris Baiz said that as farming evolves the town needs to evolve its policies as well to help farmers stay in business despite high land costs. He added that more farmers are looking to break from traditional operations and develop crops such as hops used by microbreweries in the production of craft beer.
“The most important thing is you’ve got an agricultural industry in this town that is still managing to survive on the most expensive land in the United States for farming and we need to find a way to make it work in terms of cash flow,” he said.
One suggestion is to develop criteria for “credible” shellfish growers to open their own stands as an alternative to dealing with wholesale buyers.
To open a farm stand shellfish growers would be required to have access to underwater land and obtain permits for on-site food consumption.
Supervisor Scott Russell voiced concern that the draft policy’s language might allow these types of farm stands to grow beyond what is intended.
“Are we looking to create farm stands or oyster bars?” he said. “What we need to work out with the agricultural advisory committee is how do we let the bona fide agriculture businesses get to the direct consumer without the exploitation of the town.”
The draft proposal will go to the code committee for further review.
Safety, scenic routes and flat roads have drawn many bike rides and 5K events to Southold Town in recent years, and police chief Martin Flatley says it’s becoming a problem.
Mr. Flatley said the number of event requests is becoming unmanageable. Cost analysis does not take into account all the factors that go into holding these events, he said. The review fails to include the amount of officers needed to organize participants and potential unforeseen problems such as motor vehicle accidents and aided cases.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said its time to create a policy limiting the use of town roads to groups with a “redeeming larger social purpose.”
At Tuesday’s Southold town board work session, Mr. Russell read aloud one for-profit’s organization’s advertisement of its Southold ride: “’We’ve gone to this beach for years and can’t believe they haven’t placed any resident requirements on it. It’s so out of the way they probably don’t get any outsiders.’”
“This is on the website,” Mr. Russell said. “And the problem is there is no larger social purpose here. We need to make it clear that if you’re just looking to make money there is no need to come to Southold.”
Mr. Russell said that there needs to be a cap on the number of riders and number of events held even by well-intentioned groups.
Board members agreed it is time for the town to adopt a compressive policy, but pointed out challenges to the process.
“We’re then faced with the problem of who do we cut off?” Board Member Louisa Evans said. “There are a lot nonprofits doing good work.”
In upcoming weeks, the board will develop a draft of the policy. Suggestions for the proposal included blackout dates and a viable way to control unorganized rides/ runs during which organizers don’t seek the town’s approval at all.