03/22/13 5:00pm

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Environmentalists warn that severe flooding similar to superstorm Sandy levels, which left homes on Kimogenor Point in New Suffolk awash, could be more common in the future.

The land resources section of Southold’s new comprehensive plan covers everything from protecting historic trees to destroying phragmites to rebuilding salt marshes and conserving energy.

But it was a discussion of rising sea levels and the need for a way to deal just with climate change that dominated the discussion at a public information session on the draft chapter, held at the Peconic Lane Community Center this week.

The discussion began to turn toward climate change at the mention of “alternative shoreline hardening” methods in the chapter.

Principal planner Mark Terry, who drafted much of the plan, said the draft was referring to alternative materials, such as caged rocks, known as rip-rap, instead of traditional wood or other bulkheads.

“We know we need to harden the shoreline,” he said. “What materials are most effective?”

The responses given were varied.

“Caged rip-rap on the Sound doesn’t work,” said Ron McGreevy of Mattituck.

“Hardening systems prevent terrestrial land erosion into the bay,” said agricultural committee chairman Chris Baiz. Stronger bulkheads during Sandy would have prevented further erosion during the 36 hours in which tides were five feet or more above normal, he added.

Some environmentalists say such structures are at best stop-gap measures.

“You must realize there’s no defense against rising sea level,” said Doug Hardy of Southold, a retired marine biologist who has studied climate change and is a member of the town’s conservation advisory council. Mr. Hardy said sea levels in 2080 could be 2 1/2 feet above current levels.

“It’s not going to get better,” he said. “I hate to be the messenger of gloom.”

Lillian Ball of Southold said she hopes the town examines “rolling easements,” which would allow land swallowed by the tide to revert to public property.

“When something is destroyed, at what point do you abandon it?” she asked.

North Fork Environmental Council president Bill Toedter said there’s a need to further discuss the role salt marshes play in protecting the coastline. “We need to rebuild them to prevent the effects of tidal insurgence,” he said.

Ms. Ball agreed that restoration of salt marshes could protect the coastline against climate change.

“There needs to be room for the marshes to move,” she said. “They will do that if there’s enough room for them.”

Jennifer Hartnagel, an environmental advocate with the Group for the East End, suggested that climate change alone could easily be the subject of an entire chapter of the comprehensive plan.

Mr. Terry said the planners thought long and hard about how best to incorporate climate change into the plan, and had decided that it was such a dominant influence that it should play a role in many chapters, including the upcoming land use and emergency management sections.

Mr. Hardy suggested that the town will need a plan just to address climate change.

“It’s going to dominate your plan,” he said. “This has never happened to a civilized society before.”

Planning Director Heather Lanza said the draft chapter calls for the town to create a “coastal resilience plan” to address climate change.

Ms. Ball added that sea level rise predictions made by the state in 2010, which were used to prepare the chapter, have been called into question since superstorm Sandy.

Mr. Terry agreed that there will be changes due to the storm, particularly with regard to flood insurance, which he said FEMA will likely no longer subsidize in the future.

“They’re going to phase that out completely over the next five years,” said Planning Board chairman Don Wilcenski. “If your policy is $2,000 this year, in five years it’s going to be $12,000. It’s not sustainable.”

Jack McGreevy, who also sits on the town’s conservation advisory council, which inspects properties before wetland permits are issued by the Town Trustees, said the group has seen consistent evidence of rising sea levels.

He said aging septic systems near the water will create more damage to the marine environment as climate change progresses.

“Rising sea levels are a big problem right now,” he said. “We should put together a comprehensive plan for that now. Do we need to buy properties back from homeowners?”

A smattering of other environmental issues was also part of the discussion.

Ms. Hartnagel urged the planners to more strongly urge the town to adopt new energy efficient building standards.

“Southold is one of only two to three towns on Long Island that is not part of the Energy Star Program,” she said.

Planners said the Town Board would need to adopt those changes.

Invasive species were another hot discussion.

Mr. Baiz has it in for two invasive species: Norway maples and Norway rats.

In the chapter, planners said trees such as native oaks and American beeches should be planted to replace diseased Norway maples, which are on the state’s invasive species lists.

No one other than Mr. Baiz seemed to want to talk about Norway rats.

“What is this business with Norway? They keep giving us their rejects. It’s a nice place,” joked Ms. Ball.

Mr. Toedter added that he would like the chapter to mention that boat owners should clean the axles of their boat trailers to avoid bringing invasive species from one body of water body another.

The full text of the chapter is available at http://www.southoldtownny.gov/index.aspx?NID=124.

byoung@timesreview.com

03/22/13 2:00pm

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | The west side of Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic, where the town is constructing a stone revetment to prevent erosion from undermining Mill Road.

Town workers began shoring up the east side of Mill Road in Peconic alongside Goldsmith Inlet last week, though the project was put on hold briefly late in the week until more rocks were delivered.

Town engineer Jamie Richter, who has been operating a rented excavator at the site along with highway department workers, said Monday that the original budget for the project had been cut nearly in half, leaving the crew without enough rocks to complete the revetment.

The original budget was $80,000, he said, but it was cut to $45,000.

“I think we can bring it in under $55,000,” he said Monday, while awaiting delivery of more three- to five-ton boulders.

The finished rock wall will extend 100 feet down from eastern edge of Mill Road, where it will shore up the road and neighboring residences to protect against flooding.

“It’s primarily there to stop erosion and prevent the road from being lost,” Mr. Richter said.

The dynamics of the inlet have changed in the past year, as a narrower, deeper dredging led to more water flowing through the inlet.

The town opted not to dredge the inlet this January, as is usually done, causing a small spit of sand to grow along the edge of the rock jetty on the west side of the inlet.

“That’s typically what happens when we don’t dredge in January,” said Mr. Richter. “It’s not creating problems at the moment, and with the seasons changing, the normal northeast winds are subsiding. We should be able to get through the season.”

byoung@timesreview.com

03/20/13 10:00am
TIM KELLY PHOTO | Research work could continue on Plum Island's westernmost section under new zoning proposed by Southold's Planning Department.

TIM KELLY PHOTO | An aerial view of Plum Island.

Southold Town’s long-awaited plan to zone Plum Island could be ready for public comment in April. The town’s code committee had its last look at the proposed zoning March 14.

The island has never been under any zoning category because it has been in federal hands and is therefore not subject to local planning regulations. The proposed zoning would go into effect only if the federal government sells the 840-acre island, home to a national laboratory studying animal diseases.

The town’s action was prompted by the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to replace the Plum Island lab with a new $1 billion animal disease research facility in Manhattan, Kan.

Homeland Security took title to the 46-acre Kansas site in January and, in February, DHS and the State of Kansas awarded an $80 million contract to build a utility plant there. But Congress has yet to authorize any additional funding.

It remains to be seen whether President Obama will include the Kansas construction in his 2014 federal budget, which was due in early February but will not be released until early April.

The pending town plan would divide Plum Island into three zoning districts. The Plum Island Research District would encompass the existing lab and surrounding 175 acres, while the Plum Island Conservation District would encompass 600 undeveloped acres. The third zone, Marine II, would allow for improved access to the island at its existing ferry facilities. Improvements to ferry services would be granted by special exception permit from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Early drafts of the zoning proposal allowed renewable energy generation on the island — which could have included wind and tidal power. But because environmental groups raised concerns about the effect of other generation sources on birds and marine life, the latest draft allows only soloar energy generation. A solar energy permit would also require a special exception permit from the ZBA.

Members of the code committee said at their March 14 meeting that they hoped to revisit other renewable energy production on the island after the initial zoning is adopted.

The town’s planning department is currently completing a study to back up any zoning changes, said planning director Heather Lanza.

Ms. Lanza said an April public hearing could be set by the Town Board as soon as their March 26 meeting.

byoung@timesreview.com

03/18/13 3:00pm

GRANT PARPAN FILE PHOTO | A pint of Greenport Harbor Summer Ale in the tent the brewery set up at Mitchell Park during Tallships last May.

Greenport Village officials are planning to have a draft of alcohol restrictions associated with mass assembly permits ready for review by the board at tonight’s work session, which will be held in the Third Street firehouse at 6 p.m. The draft comes just as the board is preparing to waive the village’s open container law for this September’s Maritime Festival.

Alcohol sales on village property have come under criticism from all three candidates running for Village Board this week.

The board is also scheduled to discuss a proposal from the Greenport Fire Department to beautify the park surrounding the Greenport Visitor’s Dock at the foot of Third Street south of the railroad tracks, which will be dedicated to dockbuilder Lawrence Tuthill Sr.

The fire department plans to engrave a compass in the center paved circle of the park with a quote describing Mr. Tuthill: “with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”

The fire department would also like to install two benches, three tables and a bike rack at the site.

Village administrator David Abatelli also reports that the village carousel’s new lighting has been featured in the new issue of “Merry-Go-Roundup” magazine. The village’s carousel committee is now looking to revitalize the art on the “rounding boards,” brightly painted murals that encircle the carousel above the heads of the horses.

The full agenda for tonight’s meeting is available below.

Greenport Village Work Session Reports 3-18-2013 by Suffolk Times

03/15/13 8:00am

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Planners say the town should take into account rising sea levels brought about by climate change when considering permits for shore-hardening structures such as these small jetties on the bay in New Suffolk.

The second half of the natural resources chapter of the town’s new comprehensive plan is now available for public comment, and it touches upon a question of global significance.

Possibly the most dramatic of the topics covered is climate change. According to the draft, the New York State Energy Research Development Association (NYSERDA) predicts sea level on Long Island will rise by two to five inches by the 2020s, and may rise by as much as five to 10 inches, due to the accelerated melting of Arctic ice.

“Home design and erosion control structures located within these areas will need to be re-engineered to adapt to more frequent flooding events,” according to the chapter.

The draft calls for the town to put together a “coastal resilience plan,” reassessing the use of traditional shoreline hardening structures and helping to preserve wetlands.

The document, which covers the town’s land resources, builds on a section released earlier this year that focused on the town’s water resources.

In the draft, which is available on the town’s website and at local libraries, town planners provide an overview of the geology, habitats and species that comprise Southold’s ecosystem. The focus is on ways to combat invasive species and climate change and how best to handle energy, waste management and air quality issues.

The chapter also includes numerous goals aimed at conserving energy in town buildings and for town vehicles, and for developing relationships with alternative energy companies that might wish to pursue large-scale projects in Southold. It also includes detailed descriptions of how best to mitigate the impact of those projects on the town’s other natural resources.

The plan also calls for protecting lands containing prime agricultural soils, protecting and managing the ecosystems of publicly owned lands and protecting historic trees.

It also calls for the town to protect native plant and animal species, while controlling invasive and nuisance species.

The full text of the chapter is available at http://www.southoldtownny.gov/index.aspx?NID=124.

Two public input sessions on the draft chapter will be held next week at the Peconic Community Center on Peconic Lane in Peconic.

The first starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The second meeting is set for March 21 at 6 p.m.

byoung@timesreview.com

03/14/13 5:45pm

RORY MACNISH COURTESY PHOTO | The Mattituck Presbyterian Church Haiti volunteers in front of the Nan Sema church, which was built by members of the Mattituck congregation during an earlier trip.

Parishioners from Mattituck Presbyterian Church have been lending a helping hand in Haiti for nearly three decades, but it wasn’t until last week that kids in the church got a chance to join the effort.

Over the winter school break, seven students from the church’s older youth group visited La Gonåve, an island nestled between two spits of land in the bay west of the island nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, in the way that Shelter Island lies between the East End’s north and south forks.

Life on Shelter Island, the kids found out, is far different from that of the earthquake-stricken heart of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Youth group member Rebecca Guarriello with Cardona, the young girl the group is helping to get hernia surgery.

Church member Rory MacNish of Mattituck, a photographer, has been on several trips to Haiti with the church in the past. He also took trips with the youth group to help out in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and to Reynosa, Mexico to help build homes.

“They’d heard so much about Haiti from the church,” he said. “When the earthquake happened [in 2010], they wanted to go down and help, but the parents were a little cautious. I’d brought both of my sons on trips before, so I was pretty comfortable knowing the kids would be safe.”

The church’s relationship with Haiti dates back to 1984, when parishioners asked Pastor George Gaffga where the money from the North Fork’s annual CROP Walk against hunger was being sent.

Pastor Gaffga’s research on the subject led him to the port town of Anse-å-Galets on La Gonåve, and parishioners from Mattituck have since helped build a church in the nearby village of Nan Sema.

The church’s pastor, Jean-Jaques Agones, was married by Pastor Gaffga in a ceremony in the ruins of Pétion-Ville in March 2010, just after the earthquake. Mr. MacNish was Pastor Agones’ best man.

“We basically wanted the kids to experience everything, meet all our friends over there, and work with kids at Pastor Agones’ church,” said Mr. MacNish. “We started meeting in November to learn Creole, and we showed them photos and videos of our trip. They were definitely prepared to go, but in some ways, you’re never prepared to go. People there are so loving and friendly, but always when you go there you are so introspective about the whole idea of the differences between how we live and how they live.”

Youth group members Joanna Messina, Rachel Blank, Alaina Robins, Jasmine Clasing, Rebecca Guarriello , Hallie Kujawski and Ryan Cavanaugh joined four adults on the trip.

For Riverhead High School senior Rachel Blank, the trip was a way to pay homage to her grandmother, Barbara Kaffke, who had long wanted to join the church on a trip to Haiti, but died two years ago before she had the chance. Rachel went on the trip with her mother, Nancy Blank.

“I was really nervous in the beginning, but the trip was really, really fun,” she said. “Everyone was really nice and open to holding hands with everybody.”

During their trip they met a toddler named Cardona, whose stomach was distended due to an untreated hernia, a condition that could become fatal. The youth group decided to make it their mission to raise $400 to pay for surgery.

They are setting up a “Starfish Foundation” to raise money for the surgery.

“It came from a story Pastor George told about two fishermen, who saw all these starfish washed up on the shore,” said Rachel. “One of the fishermen started throwing them back into the water so they could survive, and the other one asked what difference that would make. He said, ‘it made a difference for that one.’”

“I definitely want to go back,” said Rachel. “I want to see if they’ll have a trip next year while I’m on break from college.”

Joanna Messina, a sophomore at Riverhead High School, said her trip to Haiti was her first trip out of the country, and the first time she’d ever been on an airplane.

“It was really life-changing, realizing how much we have and take for granted,” she said of the trip. “You’d give little kids a tennis ball and their eyes would light up. It would make their week. For us, we might bounce it twice and get tired of it, but they find so many things to do with just a tennis ball.”

The youth group spent much of their week in the church school on La Gonåve, which usually doesn’t serve lunch to its 60 pupils. But the Mattituck contingent had also raised $100 to feed the children all week.

“You’d see 3-year-olds just scarf down a huge plate of pasta,” Joanna said.

“Before we left, people said to be careful because it was dangerous, but I felt safer there than here,” she said.

And coming home, Joanna realized she was still putting what she’d learned in Haiti into practice. During their trip, the students had taken short showers under a dribbling, cold-water shower head.

“I realized I was still conserving water when I got home and took a shower,” she said.

byoung@timesreview.com

03/14/13 1:00pm

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | National Grid said its finalizing plans for a Cutchogue to Southold natural gas line.

Southold Town residents and businesses have been clamoring for access to natural gas for heating, cooking and hot water since the price began to plummet two years ago but, to date, there’s been little action on the part of National Grid to meet the growing demand.

“There’s a pretty steady and broad-based demand for gas,” Supervisor Scott Russell said in an interview last week. “My understanding is the capacity to serve the town is there. The need is the infrastructure.”

That could change in the near future, said National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd. The company is working on a “gas reinforcement project” that would run a second main line down Route 48 from Cutchogue to Southold, she said.

Although there is already a gas line there, she said the new line could accommodate higher pressures than the existing line, making it possible to bring natural gas to more neighborhoods.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | A natural gas meter on the side of a local home.

“National Grid continues to invest in gas system infrastructure across Long Island including the North Fork,” Ms. Ladd added. “National Grid’s construction program is designed to support continued growth across the region.” She said the company is still finalizing plans for the Cutchogue to Southold line.

There has been some concern voiced locally that National Grid may not want to invest in gas system infrastructure since the contract to service the LIPA’s electric grid will be given to PSEG next year.

Ms. Ladd said that National Grid still owns, and plans to operate, the natural gas system after the electric contract switch.

Mattituck resident Art Tillman, who also serves as the town’s Democratic Party chairman, has recently taken a part-time job selling natural gas for a company called JJT Energy.

That company is known in the business as an “Esco,” an independent producer authorized to supply gas using National Grid’s infrastructure when the gas industry was deregulated in the 1990s.

Customers of Escos receive one bill from National Grid, which is broken down into two sections — one for the gas used and one for the cost of delivering the gas. JJT’s customers pay both companies with one bill.

“We buy gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange,” said Mr. Tillman. “Our thing is to sell gas at the lowest possible rate.”

Mr. Tillman said natural gas is a relatively easy sell, but hooking up new customers has proven infuriating. He said it’s further complicated by the fact that there is no publicly available map of gas distribution lines because of the threat they could be tampered with by vandals or terrorists.

Even fire department members, he said, have to call National Grid when responding to a scene to ask whether there are gas lines in the area.

Neighbors, of course, know anecdotally whether their neighbors have access to gas.

Barbara Meyran, who lives on Saltaire Way in Mattituck, knows there is gas available on nearby Mill Road. She’s currently circulating a petition among her neighbors to bring gas lines to their neighborhood.

“Ten people have called National Grid and nobody calls them back,” she said. “We’ve been trying for months and months.”

Mr. Tillman said many greenhouse operators are also interested in hooking up, in part because greenhouses currently using oil heat are at a huge competitive disadvantage against those with gas heat.

“Greenhouses are huge users of energy,” said Mr. Tillman. “It’s not fair for growers using oil to be competing with growers who use natural gas.”

He said it usually costs about $100 per foot to bring a gas line to a customer.

“That’s nice if a main is in front of the house, but in many cases it’s a half-mile to a main,” he said. “Therefore, it’s cost prohibitive. Just as in cable and water, gas should be available to those that want it.”

For his part, Mr. Russell said he has never received a map of the gas lines, which he requested from National Grid a year ago. He said at one point he was told the company was interested in expanding access, but had questions about how to charge new customers for the lines.

“National Grid would find a very receptive community” here, the supervisor said. “It’s a question of getting their attention.”

byoung@timesreview.com

03/13/13 9:40am

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Candidates Mary Bess Phillips, Julia Robins and Bill Swiskey debated Monday night as they’re vying for two seats on Greenport’s Village Board.

The starkly varied viewpoints of the three candidates vying for two seats on Greenport’s Village Board were on full display at Monday’s trustee debate, sponsored by The Suffolk Times.

Before a packed house at Greenport United Methodist Church, candidates Mary Bess Phillips, Julia Robins and Bill Swiskey weighed in on issues ranging from rental permits to beer sales in Mitchell Park to parking. The debate was to take place at the village’s Little Red Schoolhouse on Front Street, but was moved to the church in response to concerns over seating space.

Ms. Phillips, owner of Alice’s Fish Market and the only incumbent running, and Mr. Swiskey, a former trustee and village utilities director who served out the term of George Hubbard Sr. several years ago before losing a re-election bid, were clearly at odds over how best to handle village affairs. Ms. Robins, a carpenter and real estate agent, provided the perspective of someone not intimately involved with the workings of village government.

Last year, the board nixed a plan to bring parking meters back to the downtown commercial district. The meters had initially been proposed because business owners were worried that people were parking all day, making it difficult for customers to get to their shops. But the parking meter solution didn’t suit them either.

“Do we need a [traffic control officer]? I don’t know. I want to hear from the people,” said Ms. Phillips “Marking tires? Yeah, it might work. Somebody should say what they would like. Last time I stuck my neck out, it pretty much got chopped off.”

Mr. Swiskey is all for traffic control officers.

“If we had a person four days a week, even if it costs $15,000, I guarantee you’ll get revenue to cover it,” he said. “If we can find the money for $1,500 wind farm surveys, we can find the money for a TCO.”

“I think meter parking creates a sense of bad will in town,” said Ms. Robins. “The business community needs to come together. We need to hear more from them. They were vocal against the meters. Was the summer as bad as they thought it was going to be?”

The three candidates all disapproved of the sale of beer during events in Mitchell Park, although their approach to whether for-profit groups should be allowed to hold events there was more nuanced.

“I’m going to put an end to this business of selling beer in the park,” Mr. Swiskey said to a chorus of whoops and chuckles from supporters in the audience. “You know I’m no puritan, but I don’t want them selling beer in front of my grandchildren.”

Ms. Phillips also said she had a problem with the sale of beer in the park. She said she hopes the Village Board develops a clear policy for which groups can use the park, and hopes they favor cultural events.

“We have lots of opportunity for that,” she said. “We need to do it with a love for the park.”

“I don’t think anybody should be selling anything for a profit there,” added Ms. Robins. “Northeast Stage, Dancing in the Park should be there. It’s a community property for all of us.”

Mr. Swiskey said he believed the policy on the park’s use should be flexible. The San Simeon by the Sound nursing home, for example, had been denied use of the park for a fundraiser, even though they provide jobs and care for seniors.

“If we can allow a beer brewer to sell product in public park for profit, we should allow San Simeon to have the same rights,” he said.

In the debate’s most heated moment, moderator Tim Kelly asked if the fact that Mr. Swiskey already receives village benefits didn’t make it easier for him to say in his campaign that he wouldn’t take them as a board member. Mr. Swiskey collects a pension and health benefits from his service as utilities director.)

Several of Mr. Swiskey’s supporters in the crowd objected loudly and one audience member briefly shouted that he believed the question shouldn’t have been asked.

Mr. Swiskey said he believes there’s a difference between full-time employees receiving benefits and part-time elected officials, who can get benefits through their own business.

“Pay for it through your businesses, the same as my son does,” he said. “I don’t think anybody who works 20 hours per month deserves benefits.”

Ms. Phillips said she doesn’t take the village’s health insurance but doesn’t feel like it’s her place to tell other officials not to take it.

“It’s been in existence for quite a while,” she said. “I don’t know where to go with it. Litigation has held up a lot of things.”

“I’m not familiar with what people are getting. I’ll have to look into it a little bit more before I make a knowledgeable comment,” said Ms. Robins.

Candidates agreed the village needs to do more to make sure rental housing is safe, but some wondered if the village could afford to do so.

“We do have to have a law that requires landlords to have safety standards they have to adhere to,” said Ms. Robins. “As a realtor, I’ve seen safety issues in apartments. I won’t take it as a listing because it’s not safe.”

Ms. Phillips said rental laws need to be enforceable, and the village’s code committee, which is currently reviewing a rental permit law, is looking for more public input.

Mr. Swiskey said the code committee is seen in the village as the place where bills go to die. He asked why a new draft of the rental permit bill hasn’t been posted on the town’s website or made available to the public.

“You’ll have to ask the chairman of the committee, who’s sitting in the back of the room,” said Ms. Phillips, referring to Mayor David Nyce, who was in the audience.

“Put the draft online. People will look at it and make comments. I guarantee people will give feedback,” said Mr. Swiskey.

In their closing statements, the candidates summed up their perspectives on the race.

“I moved here as a young woman determined to become a carpenter,” said Ms. Robins. “I spent 25 years building and renovating houses on the North Fork. I’m a hard worker. I’m very good at getting things done. I raised my son here and he’s grown to be a fine young man. We’re so fortunate to live in a town that cares about its neighbors.”

Ms. Phillips said she wants to continue working to make downtown active year round and focus on capital improvements throughout the village, while improving communication between government and residents.

“I was born and raised here,” she said. “It’s been tough to stay here and we have tough times ahead. I want to plan for the future with the same activity of spirit and dedication.”

Mr. Swiskey pledged to keep being a thorn in the side of the Village Board.

“They’re running a $20 million a year enterprise, and it’s just running around like it’s rudderless,” he said. “I might be a little bit confrontational, but I will stand up to the powers that be.”

byoung@timesreview.com

03/12/13 7:30pm

liveblog

The Southold Town Board will again be discussing the National Disaster Recovery Framework’s role in repairing the damage done by Hurricane Sandy at Tuesday’s work session, which will be held at 9 a.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

The framework is an inter-agency partnership spearheaded by the federal government designed to help communities respond to natural disasters.

Town board members are also slated to discuss the “Climate Smart Communities Pledge,” a pledge to reduce carbon emissions and help protect areas of the town at danger from climate change. The pledge, which is sponsored by the state, helps communities win grant money from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to implement changes.

Board members will also discuss the county’s affordable housing program, a proposed community service forum, updates to the town’s geographic information systems software, hauling bids for the waste management department and tree removal at Browns Hill Cemetery in Orient.

The evening session will be held at 7:30 p.m. The Suffolk Times will be blogging live from both meetings below.

 

Southold Town Board agenda, March 12, 2013 by Suffolk Times

03/07/13 5:00pm
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO  |  A commercial fishing boat docked in Greenport.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The Miss Nancy fishing boat motors through Greenport Harbor, a main focus of the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

In the years since Greenport’s last Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan was completed in 1988, Mitchell Park and its marina have been constructed and become a central part of the Front Street scene, and STIDD Systems, a manufacturer of high-end boat seats, opened in a long-closed shipyard, providing a healthy number of high-paying jobs.

Both of those developments were encouraged in that 1988 plan.

Now the village is looking to update its LWRP and expand the document to serve as a comprehensive plan for how Greenport residents envision their village developing for years to come.

In particular, village representatives and residents hope changes to the plan will focus on preserving the working waterfront and boosting the year-round economy.

The Greenport Village Board is putting the finishing touches on the new plan, which will be rolled out for a formal public hearing within the next few months. Board members met with consultant David Smith Feb. 28 at the Little Red Schoolhouse to discuss some final revisions.

The proposals outlined in the update include expanding the historic district and redeveloping the dilapidated baymen’s dock property on the east side of Stirling Harbor to serve aquaculturists. Also proposed is the rezoning of several landlocked parcels on the south side of Front Street from the waterfront commercial category to a new waterfront commercial/recreation and residential district, which would allow more potential uses.

The plan also encourages the creation of walking paths along the waterfront.

Mayor David Nyce was quick to point out that the potential zoning changes are only suggestions — and even if the LWRP is adopted, a separate local law and public hearing would be required to make those changes.

“These are not things that will happen, these are things that can happen,” he said.

Mr. Smith said owners of landlocked “waterfront commercial” properties at the eastern end of Front Street currently have to come before the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals to open, say, a pet store.

“Do you want to put the proprietor through the added expense?” he asked. “You don’t want to put up too many hurdles.”

He said that adding a residential component to properties in the new zoning area would help the village achieve the smart growth principle of creating a community of residents who can walk rather than drive to neighboring shops.

Trustee Chris Kempner also recommended that the village’s site plan process for waterfront properties include a provision for public access to the water. She pointed out that in Riverhead, the public can walk along the downtown waterfront until they reach the Long Island Aquarium, where they have to pay to access the river.

“If somebody has a marina on the waterfront, should they have a public boardwalk along the waterfront?” asked Ms. Kempner. “It would be just like if you want a curb cut, you should put in a sidewalk or another public amenity.”

The Village Board also discussed the small marinas along Sterling Street, which were pegged for possible expansion in an early draft of the waterfront plan. Board members said they believe those marinas, which are in a residential neighborhood, are big enough as is.

“The intent is to make the document match the uses currently,” said Mr. Nyce.

In a survey of village residents compiled in conjunction with the preparation of the LWRP, 70 percent of respondents said they believe the village needs a larger working waterfront. Ninety-five percent said they believe aquaculture has a future in Greenport, while 70 percent said they believe there’s not enough downtown parking.

The plan recommends the village look into providing parking near the Greenport School during busy tourist seasons, along with a shuttle to downtown.

The draft also calls for placing most residential properties in the village in the R2, or multifamily, zoning district, which would enable residents to add accessory apartments to their homes. The one exception, to remain an R1 or one-family district due to its size and environmental sensitivity, would be Sandy Beach, a waterfront community of small lots on the east side of Stirling Harbor. The village is currently preparing a study of extending village sewer service to that area.

The plan also urges the dredging of Stirling Harbor, a project placed on the back burner by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but which is required for large boats to access the harbor.

“The whole Stirling Basin is an economic area that’s different from downtown,” said Trustee Mary Bess Phillips. “Everybody thinks business is just downtown.”

The LWRP also proposes expanding the McCann Campground and trails through Moore’s Woods to encourage environmental tourism.

“I think it’s a thorough document. I’m happy with the outcome,” said Mr. Nyce.

The village plans to post the draft LWRP on its website, after which a public hearing will be scheduled.

byoung@timesreview.com