The Southold Town Board on Tuesday night voted unanimously to adopt local zoning for Plum Island.
“Before I vote I’d like to thank [Suffolk County Legislator and former town councilman] Al Krupski for saying 2 and 1/2 years ago we should do this,” Councilman William Ruland said prior to the vote. “In the end, what has come forth is certainly workable.”
The pressure on the town to zone the 840-acre island, which is federally owned and therefore not currently subject to local planning regulations, intensified when the U.S. General Services Administration suggested the government sell the land to a private developer for the construction of up to 500 houses on the property.
The new law establishes two zoning districts on the island.
The Plum Island Research District includes the existing lab and the 160 acres immediately surrounding it, on which additional uses that include education or recreation will be allowed.
The Plum Island Conservation District covers 600 undeveloped acres on which no development will be allowed.
Under the original proposal, the town’s current Marine District zoning would have been amended to require ferry terminals “to have at least 10 acres of buildable land dedicated to each ferry service provided,” while also offering a certain number of parking spaces for passengers.
But residents and business owners argued the change would make the town’s existing ferry terminals outside Plum Island non-conforming lots, which could lead to problems down the road if those companies sought to build or expand.
Two weeks ago, after those concerns were raised, the Town Board removed that section of the proposal.
It will take up the Marine District zoning at a later date.
Read more in the Aug. 29 edition of The Suffolk Times newspaper.