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The topic of zoning alone rarely draws much a crowd to a meeting. But when a specific development application is up for discussion, said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, “we get 200 people out.” READ

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03/19/16 3:04pm
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The ongoing debate of how to make the intersection of Love Lane, Route 25 and Old Sound Avenue safer continued Saturday morning when approximately 50 community members gathered at Mattituck Presbyterian Church. READ

12/19/15 6:00am
12/19/2015 6:00 AM

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The North Fork Environmental Council is looking for a new leader.

Bill Toedter, the nonprofit’s president of the last five years, is moving to Arizona and says that for several years, the organization has been having trouble finding new people to fill the volunteer positions.  READ

02/17/15 8:00am
02/17/2015 8:00 AM
Some say the popularity of businesses like these on Love Lane have contributed to Mattituck's growth. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Some say the popularity of businesses like these on Love Lane have contributed to Mattituck’s growth. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

While campaigning for Town Board in 2013, Mattituck resident Mary Eisenstein found herself looking out at a crowd in East Marion during a Meet the Candidates event.

Organized by the East Marion Civic Association, the event soon got her wondering.

“I saw what they did and asked, ‘How we can do it?’” Ms. Eisenstein recalled.

So, she decided to find out.

Ms. Eisenstein is launching the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association later this month and says it will provide a place for residents who don’t belong to an existing group, such as the Chamber of Commerce or the local historical society, or feel intimidated voicing concerns by themselves at town meetings.

(more…)

11/02/13 8:02am
11/02/2013 8:02 AM
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 COUNCIL
Four-year term, two open seats
Salary: $33,218

James Dinizio Jr.
Occupation:
Owner, Sterling Communications Inc.
Hamlet: Greenport
Party lines: Conservative, Republican, Independence

About him: Mr. Dinizio, 59, is a lifelong resident of Greenport, where he lives with his wife and has raised two children. He worked in the cable television industry for two decades before founding his own communications company 19 years ago. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, having served from 1972 to 1975. A past member of several town committees — including the code, planning and zoning committees — he was appointed to the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals in 1988. He served 25 years on the ZBA, including one year as chairman. He was appointed to a vacant seat on the Town Board in February and is now seeking election to the board for the first time.

His pitch: He believes his experience working with the town code can be an asset to the Town Board and his past experience with the planning and zoning departments can help streamline the process for applicants and taxpayers. He says he’s concerned about the pressure to allow more commercial uses in residential zones, which he believes would impact the overall quality of life in the town.

In his words: “If elected in November, I will use the experience I have gained during my years on the ZBA to insure that any new code changes with respect to zoning will respect the sanctity of the neighborhoods we live in.”

Mary Eisenstein
Occupation:
Owner, Melmar Enterprises
Hamlet: Mattituck
Party lines: Democrat, Working Families

About her: Ms. Eisenstein, 64, has been a Mattituck resident for more than 20 years. She runs a communication skills development training company, specializing in conflict resolution, mediation and emotional intelligence skills. In that capacity, she has designed programs for hundreds of companies and conducted seminars, workshops and training programs for major airline, government, military, human resource, health care, library, education, banking and retail organizations.

Her pitch: She believes her professional skills have prepared her to listen to the community’s concerns and give it a voice on the Town Board. She said the Town Board is in need of new people from outside local government who can bring fresh ideas. She hopes to help agricultural and other small-business owners across Southold Town prosper while ensuring the town maintains its cultural heritage.

In her words: “A diverse board that more adequately reflects the community will make Southold stronger and enable us to find better solutions to future issues. Let us all work together to maintain our good neighbor approach to living in Southold Town.”

Robert Ghosio
Occupation: Management, heating and air conditioning industry
Hamlet:
Greenport
Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence

About him: Mr. Ghosio, 50, has lived with his wife and raised two sons in Greenport since 1998. He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Oswego State before pursuing graduate studies in divinity at Drew University. He worked as a manager at Burt’s Reliable for 15 years before going to work at Flanders Heating & Air Conditioning earlier this year. He is in his seventh year on the Southold Town Trustees, to which he was first elected in a 2006 special election. He had previously spent six years on the town’s Conservation Advisory Council.

His pitch: He believes his experience as a Trustee and his time on the CAC have prepared him to serve on the Town Board. Mr. Ghosio counts land preservation, controlling development, environmental conservation and keeping taxes down among his top campaign issues.

In his words: “[My experience] representing my constituents and administering our town’s natural resources codes while also immersing myself in the internal processes of local law-making, code enforcement, planning and administration of the town, gives me the background and necessary experience with issues critical to the future of our town.”

Ronald J. Rothman
Occupation: Owner, Rothman’s Department Store
Hamlet:
Southold
Party lines: Democrat, Working Families

About him: Mr. Rothman, 58, is a third-generation Southold resident and the current owner of the family business founded in 1918 by his grandfather, David Rothman. He attended Southold schools, graduated from Williston-Northampton School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Alfred University in 1977. He has worked with arts organizations, established his own gallery and performed and exhibited his work across Eastern Long Island.

His pitch: As an outsider to local government and politics, Mr. Rothman believes he can bring a sensibility to government that reflects the local perspective and a love of Southold Town. He said his experience as a local business owner who has worked with residents, other local businesspeople and the agricultural community gives him special insight into what it takes to thrive on the North Fork: grow businesses, serve the community, support the schools, preserve the environment and maintain a high quality way of life in an open and transparent way.

In his words: “I am committed to preserving the natural beauty and the lifestyle of Long Island’s North Fork for future generations and to bringing my experience, expertise and sensibilities to our town to add some balance to our local government.”

Read our endorsements for town council here

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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05/30/13 1:45pm
05/30/2013 1:45 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTOS | Southold Democratic Town Board candidates Mary Eisenstein and Ron Rothman.

Giving Republican Town Justice William Price the Democratic nomination after the GOP dropped him from its ticket was a headline maker, but it wasn’t the only decision made during the town Democrats’ nominating convention Wednesday night.

The party also selected a third-generation Southold store owner and a communications specialist and mediator from Mattituck to top the Southold Democratic Party’s ticket in the fall elections.

The supervisor’s position, which has a four-year term, is not on this year’s ballot.

The party also selected three Town Trustee candidates and one town assessor hopeful, but left open two assessors positions, Fishers Island justice, highway superintendent and town clerk.

The Town Board candidates are Ron Rothman of Rothman’s Department Store on Main Road in Southold and Mary Eisenstein, the operator of Melmar Enterprises, which offers workshops in corporate and individual communications. She’s also a mediator who has worked to resolve civil cases before the Town Justice Court.

For Trustee, the Democrats chose South African native Geoffery Well, a retired corporate IT officer; Joe Finora Jr, one of the organizers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League and Bill Funke, who prior to his retirement worked in the marine insurance industry.

Although three Trustee positions will be on this year’s ballot, the party selected just one candidate. Southold resident Jason Petrucci, who earned a master’s in government and politics from the University of Maryland, will run to fill the 26 months left in Assessor Darline Duffy’s term. Ms. Duffy is retiring this week.

The party left it to Chairman Art Tillman to continue the search for candidates for the other positions.

The Democrats were thrown a curve Wednesday morning when Highway Superintendent Pete Harris, the party’s only representative in local elected office, announced he will retire at the end of his term.

Mr. Tillman said he has “feelers out” for potential highway candidates.

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