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04/18/16 2:00pm
04/18/2016 2:00 PM

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After years of work, a draft of the Southold Town comprehensive plan’s land use chapter has been released for the public to discuss and make comments and suggestions. And unlike previous plans which called for wholesale changes, this land use chapter instead provides suggestions on topics like hybrid zoning, housing size and public parking that the town will later explore, said planning director Heather Lanza. READ

04/10/15 8:00am
04/10/2015 8:00 AM
The Planning Board has voted on an indoor horse riding ring for this Mattituck estate. (Credit: The Corcoran Group, file)

The Planning Board has voted on an indoor horse riding ring for this Mattituck estate. (Credit: The Corcoran Group, file)

The Southold Town Planning Board has approved a site plan for a proposal to construct an indoor riding ring on a prominent 37-acre Cox Neck Road estate. (more…)

05/27/14 12:00pm
05/27/2014 12:00 PM
Southold Town planning director Heather Lantz at Thursday's meeting. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Southold Town planning director Heather Lanza at Thursday’s meeting. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)

Southold Town will unveil interactive maps online that detail current zoning, one of the ideas discussed at last Thursday’s informational meeting at Town Hall. The maps are expected to be available in about two months, according to planning director Heather Lanza.

Over 20 people attended the meeting  to discuss Southold hamlet’s zoning and land use as part of the Southold Town Comprehensive Plan.

(more…)

01/30/14 11:00am
01/30/2014 11:00 AM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Carolyn Fahey of the county economic development department addressed the Southold School Board Wednesday night to discuss a new business tax incentive.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Carolyn Fahey of Suffolk County’s economic development department addressed the Southold school board Wednesday night to discuss a new business tax incentive.

The Southold school board has agreed to continue allowing business owners to take advantage of a new tax exemption program that aims to promote small business expansion projects and economic growth. (more…)

01/02/14 11:00am
01/02/2014 11:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Southold planning department director Heather Lanza describes the town’s plan for Plum Island earlier this year. The town later passed the first-ever zoning regulations on the island.

When Donald Trump announced his interest in building a golf course on Plum Island this past October, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell was easily able to dismiss the billionaire’s dream.

“Unless he wants to get into the business of conservation or education I don’t think what [Mr. Trump] has in mind would be consistent with our zoning,” Mr. Russell told The Suffolk Times.

Behind Mr. Russell’s confident statement — he was effectively telling Mr. Trump’s representatives to take a hike — was the much-anticipated Plum Island zoning that passed in August and was written in large part by Southold Town planning director Heather Lanza.

As the nation watches to see what will become of the 840-arce island should the federal government move forward with its plan to decommission the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the Southold resident never lost sight of the town’s intention to protect the island. For that, Ms. Lanza is the Suffolk Times’ 2013 Public Servant of the Year.

The zoning document was the result of a two-year process that included months of public testimony and numerous drafts. Both environmental groups and politicians have hailed the legislation as a victory.

Perhaps Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, who helped spearhead the zoning during his time as a Town Board member, said it best.

“She really wrote the solution to our problem,” he said. “It took us years at the town level to get to this point. She and the planning staff did a tremendous job that you can’t put a price on. By zoning the island, we have authority over its use and it gives us control over its future rather than another government agency.”

Since the island is federally owned, it’s not currently subject to local planning regulations. The new zoning would take effect only if the island were sold for non-governmental use. The town’s planning department began working on the zoning after the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to replace the Plum Island lab with a new $1.1 billion animal disease research facility in Manhattan, Kan. The project calls for closing the Plum Island lab and selling the property to a private investor.

The pressure on the town to zone the island intensified in July when the federal General Services Administration recommended that government sell the land for the construction of houses on the property.

The zoning separates the island into two districts.

The Plum Island Research District would include the existing lab facilities and the 160 acres immediately surrounding it; the Plum Island Conservation District would cover 600 undeveloped acres.

The zoning satisfied environmental groups from both sides of Long Island Sound who championed protecting Plum Island’s undeveloped areas during the public hearing process.

“This was the most decisive action toward preserving Plum Island taken so far,” said Bob DeLuca, president of Group for the East End. “On a federal level it remains to be seen how this all plays out, but at least there is a regulatory backstop in place that gives us some reassurance if it’s sold.”

Reflecting on the process, Ms. Lanza said she always had a clear plan in mind when writing the zoning.

“The focus has always been what’s best for the people of Southold, their economic interests and environmental concerns,” she said. “So even though it had attention from beyond Southold’s borders it really didn’t matter because we still knew what we needed to focus on.”

Ms. Lanza, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts who has worked in the town planning department for the past six years, called the Plum Island zoning a career highlight.

“For a planner, the process of zoning a place that has never been zoned before is fascinating because it’s a rare experience,” she said.

While Plum Island took center stage in 2013, Mr. Russell said it was just one of many accomplishments for Ms. Lanza this year. She led her department and worked with the Town Board to complete nine out of 11 chapters of Southold’s Comprehensive Plan, a community-wide effort to map out the physical growth and development of the town.

Ms. Lanza’s expertise were also sought with numerous other efforts, such as the construction of affordable housing units on Fishers Island, amendments to the town’s code on wireless facilities and the town’s long-awaited special events law, which was passed over the summer.

“Each and every task gets done simultaneously,” Mr. Russell said. “In fact, under her leadership, no project has been delayed or not done to a very professional level.”

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12/18/13 7:00am
12/18/2013 7:00 AM

CYNDI MURRAY FILE PHOTO | The Town is considering amending its zoning code to allow a proposal to construct an affordable housing complex on Fishers Island.

Southold Town is considering changing the zoning on a parcel of land on Fishers Island to accommodate an affordable housing complex, according to planning director Heather Lanza.

During Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Ms. Lanza, accompanied by special project coordinator Phillip Beltz, requested that board members change the zoning from a residential district to an affordable housing district. The amendment is required to permit construction of a proposed three-unit complex, Ms. Lanza said.

Fishers Island resident Katharine Sanger, the owner of the 3/4 acre property located near the community center, first proposed the concept to Mr. Beltz in August. The proposed complex includes a one-bedroom apartment, a two-bedroom apartment and a one-bedroom apartment with an attached studio, Mr. Beltz said.

“[Ms. Sanger] is not doing it to make money on rentals,” Mr. Beltz said after the meeting. “She is doing it for the purpose of creating affordable housing because it’s needed on Fishers Island.”

Still in its preliminary phase, a site plan for the affordable housing proposal has not yet been submitted to the town, Mr. Beltz said. Ms. Sanger would develop the units privately with guidance from town — which recently allocated $10,000 in Suffolk County Community Block Grant funding to help the project move forward, Mr. Beltz said.

Town board members expressed interest in moving forward with the project, but requested that members of the planning department and Mr. Beltz work with Ms. Sanger to submit a preliminary building plan before any official action is taken.

“There is a need for this,”councilwoman and Fisher Island Justice Louisa Evans said. “It is a project that would be much appreciated by Fishers Island.”

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