11/03/17 5:59am
11/03/2017 5:59 AM

While there is no supervisor’s race in Southold next week, the local elections are still very important for the direction the town will follow in the coming years. There are three big issues Southold must always keep front and center: farmland preservation, the health and vitality of our salt creeks and the Peconic Bay estuary system.

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11/23/15 12:27pm
11/23/2015 12:27 PM

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It’s 9 a.m. the Monday before Thanksgiving and Frank Peppe, a technician with Flanders Heating & Air Conditioning, is beginning his work week by installing baseboards into a small Habitat for Humanity house being built on Greenway East in Orient. READ

09/06/14 8:00am
09/06/2014 8:00 AM
Helicopter traffic at East Hampton Airport cannot be curtailed at the moment, since the FAA contributed money toward infrastructure improvements there, and FAA rules prohibit any discrimination against certain types of aircraft. (Credit: Kyril Bromley/The East Hampton Press)

Helicopter traffic at East Hampton Airport cannot be curtailed at the moment, since the FAA contributed money toward infrastructure improvements there, and FAA rules prohibit any discrimination against certain types of aircraft. (Credit: Kyril Bromley/The East Hampton Press)

Joe Werkmeister’s column last week seemingly downplaying the impact of helicopter noise on the North Fork was an interesting take on the subject. I’m sure that he’s not the only person in town who doesn’t understand the impact helicopter noise can have on the neighborhoods directly under the flight path. (more…)

02/26/14 8:00am
02/26/2014 8:00 AM
Newly appointed Trustee Dave Bergen had just  served on the board.

Newly appointed Trustee Dave Bergen had just served on the board.

The Southold Town Board approved reappointing Republican Dave Bergen to the Board of Trustees, but the decision was not unanimous. During Tuesday night’s regular meeting, Town Board members voted 4-2 in favor of having Mr. Bergen fill a vacant Trustees seat, with council members Jim Dinizo and Jill Doherty, a former trustee, in opposition.

Supervisor Scott Russell gave a “reluctant yes” vote

“We needed to come to a consensus on a name and that’s what we did tonight,” Mr. Russell said.

Mr. Bergen will carry out the unexpired term of Republican Bob Ghosio, who won his bid for Town Board in November and was sworn in in January.

Mr. Bergen had served as a trustee for eight years, but the Southold GOP did not nominate him for re-election last year . At that time, Republican Committee chairman Peter McGreevy said that although the incumbent had “a very successful eight years in office,” the committee decided “it was time to go in a different direction.”

Following Tuesday’s vote, Mr. McGreevy said he respects the Town Board’s decision.

“I know that Dave Bergen will bring experience, continuity and a renewed sense of purpose to the office,” he said.

In November, after Mr. Ghosio won the Town Board seat,Town Board members said they would consider candidates who had previously sought office — namely Democrat Geoffrey Wells, who had lost by a small margin on Election Day 2013 — as well as people with interest and qualifications who have never entered the political arena.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Southold Democratic chairman Art Tillman said the Town Board “stacked the deck” against his party and that the Republican committee played large part in the re-appointment of Mr. Bergen.

“In affect you are scaring away some very capable candidate because they don’t think the Republican Screening Committee would recommend them to you,” Mr. Tillman said.  “I have no issue with [the candidate].It is the process by which they are being appointed.”

“You would be naive to think the Republican Party didn’t play a role,” Mr. Russell said. “They certainly have a say.”

Mr. Russell added that many names had been considered for the position and that Democratic Congressmen Tim Bishop had contacted the town to voice his support for Mr. Bergen’s appointment.

Republican Trustee Jim King was pleased the board chose experience over party scuffling.

“I’m happy to see him come back,” said Mr. King, who had voiced concern with the Town Board’s pace of selecting a fifth Trustee earlier this month. “Dave has been [on the board] for a while,” he said. “He knows what he is talking about.”

Following the meeting Mr. Bergen, who was not present, said he was “pleased to once again be a member of the Trustee team.

“I wish to thank all of the individuals who supported my appointment,” he said. “I look forward to working with the Trustees in our efforts to serve the residents of Southold Town.”

Mr. Bergen is not guaranteed a spot on the board after 2014. A special election for the final year of the term will be held this November.

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11/21/13 10:02am
11/21/2013 10:02 AM

Geoffrey Wells (left) and Robert Ghosio.

Elections are over, but there is still one more town position up for grabs. After Republican Bob Ghosio won in his bid for Town Board earlier this month, his seat on the town’s Board of Trustees will become vacant.

Now, the current Town Board is tasked with appointing his replacement.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said the Town Board is hoping to fill the vacant seat after Jan. 1 — when the incoming elected officials are sworn into office. But there are currently no candidates in mind for the position, he said.

“We have plenty of time to discuss the issue and to decide the direction we’re going to go in,” Mr. Russell said. “We haven’t even had a discussion about it.”

Mr. Ghosio, 50, of Greenport easily won the Town Board seat along with incumbent running mate Jim Dinzio. Incumbent Republican trustees John Bredemeyer and Mike Domino also both won re-election easily. And in the closest town race on election night, Republican Trustee candidate Charles Sanders of Greenport was elected to the seat left open after two-term incumbent Dave Bergen did not receive the Republican nomination this time around.

Mr. Sanders edged Democrat Geoffrey Wells, 60, by just 578 votes. It was the slimmest margin of defeat for a losing candidate in a Trustee race since 2001, when Republican candidate Henry Smith was defeated by just 294 votes for a third open seat.

Mr. Russell earlier this month said that Mr. Wells is a viable candidate for the vacant Trustee position, but noted that Town Board members, all Republicans, had not made any decisions yet.

“I think there are lots of viable candidates in the community and [Geoffrey Wells] is certainly one,” Mr. Russell said.

Reached by phone following the election, Mr. Wells said he would consider taking the open position, if it were offered.

Town Board members said they would consider candidates who have previously sought office as well as people with interest and qualifications who have never entered the political arena.

“We have to look at everybody and be open-minded to pick the best possible candidate we can,” Mr. Russell said.

A special election for the final year of the term will then be held in November, Republican Committee chairman Peter McGreevy said.

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10/16/13 4:19pm
10/16/2013 4:19 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Town board candidates debate winery regulation and deer management during Tuesday's forum.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Town board candidates debate winery regulation and deer management during Tuesday’s forum.

Town finances, winery regulations and deer management were among the issues discussed at a Southold Town Board candidates forum sponsored by The Suffolk Times and hosted at Peconic Landing in Greenport Tuesday night.

Democratic challengers Mary Eisenstein and Ron Rothman asked voters to elect a different voice to the all-Republican board, while incumbent Town Board member Jim Dinizio, a registered Conservative, and Republican challenger and current town Trustee Bob Ghosio touted their experience and working knowledge of the issues facing Southold.

Here’s what the candidates had to say about the issues:

DEER MANAGEMENT

When it comes to Southold Town’s current deer management plan, Democratic hopefuls said there is none.

Mary Eisenstein, who has been diagnosed with Lyme disease four times during her 21 years on the North Fork, said the Town Board hasn’t been working hard enough to lobby Albany for more effective means of controlling the deer population.

“If I’m on the board, the first thing I’m doing is getting a busload of people to go to Albany,” she said.

The Republican candidates agreed deer management is a major issue in Southold Town. Mr. Ghosio pointed to Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) for letting legislation that would relax hunting regulations in Suffolk County and across the state to stall in committee.

“The problem is we are ready to address it, but the state is not,” Mr. Ghosio said. He believes when the North Fork’s vacant state Assembly seat is filled in November, Southold’s deer management issue will be better represented and more progress will be made. All the candidates said they would support Republican Town Supervisor Scott Russell’s proposal to allocate $75,000 in the 2014 town budget toward deer management.

TOWN FINANCES

Every candidate spoke in favor of Mr. Russell’s proposed budget for 2013-14 and supported the way the town manages its finances.

The proposed $41.6 million 2014 spending plan includes a 1 percent spending increase over the current year and would result in a 1.17 percent tax hike.

Mr. Dinizio said the town does a good job of limiting expenses and spending wisely, citing the Town Board’s recent authorization of a $3.5 million bond for construction improvements to the town’s highway facility. The proposed upgrades include demolition of existing fuel storage tanks and construction of a consolidated fueling station, he said.The consolidation would allow the town to store more fuel in the event of a natural disaster like superstorm Sandy.

“There are places were you can spend money to gain efficiency,” Mr. Dinizio said.

Democrats agreed the current Town Board handles its finances well.

“It is a well-managed town,” said Democrat Ron Rothman. “We are fiscally in good shape.”

Ms. Eisenstein said, “As I’m out speaking with people, they say how they like how Scott Russell manages our town and I concur with that.”

She agreed with Mr. Dinizio’s suggestion that the town could gain efficiency.

WINERY REGULATIONS

Any discussion on how to strike a balance between meeting the needs of agricultural businesses and maintaining the rural character of Southold Town will eventually turn to Vineyard 48’s controversial business practices. Tuesday’s debate was no exception.

The Cutchogue vineyard’s business practices have prompted investigations by both the town and the State Liquor Authority following a host of complaints, including reports of loud music and patrons allegedly wandering onto neighboring properties and engaging in illicit behavior.

While board members have traditionally taken a strong stance against the vineyard, Democratic hopeful Mr. Rothman said the winery is being stifled by the town’s excessive legislation, pointing specifically to the newly enacted special events law.The law and the winery use review were a response to residents’ complaints about such events — most notably at Vineyard 48 — and concern about the town’s options in addressing code violations.

Mr. Rothman, owner of Rothman’s Department Store in Southold, said the town should have enforced the laws already on the books rather then passing new regulations to restrict all of the town’s agricultural businesses.

“It’s overkill for the problem,” Mr. Rothman said. “I’m for agriculture and promoting the businesses that are zoned for these area. It is a good-neighbor policy.”

Mr. Dinizo said the need for the legislation stems from some operations not following a “good-neighbor policy.”

“If you mention [Vineyard] 48 you have to mention what goes on there; this establishment breaks the law every week,” he said. “That is a safety problem and a police problem.”

Mr. Dinizio, who has served for more than two decades on various Southold Town boards, said he’s seen the town’s need for more extensive regulations grow.

“In 1988 it was cheese and crackers and sipping wine and it was fine, but things are changing and that’s why we have a Town Board so we can all sleep at night,” he said.

Viewing the issue on a broader scale, Mr. Ghosio said his priority was to maintain the rural charm of the town.

“Riverhead used to be a rural town and we all see what’s happening out west and we don’t want that to happen here,” he said. “If we need to create laws to maintain that from time to time, so be it.”

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