08/27/13 8:10pm
08/27/2013 8:10 PM

FILE PHOTO | Town passes Plum Island zoning.

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.

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Read more in the Aug. 29 edition of The Suffolk Times newspaper.

08/27/13 8:00am

BING MAP IMAGE | The town plans to prohibit vehicle parking at all times along a half-mile stretch of County Route 48 from the western edge of Depot Lane to the eastern edge of a private road known as Road B near Vineyard 48.

The public will have its first chance tonight to weigh in on Southold Town’s proposed legislation to prohibit parking on the North Road in the vicinity of Vineyard 48.

The Town Board believes parking on Route 48 near the winery has caused undue congestion, restricted access and maneuverability and had dangerous traffic impacts, according to the draft law.

The law would prohibit vehicle parking at all times along a half-mile stretch of Route 48 from the western edge of Depot Lane to the eastern edge of a private road known as Road B.

The new parking restriction proposal was introduced a month ago, on the same day the board passed a controversial special events law, which came in response to residents’ complaints about such events — most notably at Vineyard 48 — and concern over the town’s options in addressing reported code violations.

The board also appears poised to vote on a bill this evening that will create two new zoning districts specific to Plum Island.

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 recommended the government sell the land to a private developer for the construction of houses on the property.

The proposed law would establish two zones. The Plum Island Research District would include the existing lab and the 160 acres immediately surrounding it, while the Plum Island Conservation District would cover 600 undeveloped acres.

The board is expected to adopt the zoning proposal during its regular meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room.

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08/14/13 12:00pm
08/14/2013 12:00 PM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | The Southold Town Board could adopt a bill to zone Plum Island at its next meeting on Aug. 27.

The Southold Town Board appears poised to approve a bill later this month that will create two new zoning districts specific to Plum Island. But that law will no longer include language to amend the section of the Town Code regulating uses for ferry terminals, town officials said Tuesday.

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.

Following concerns from residents and business owners who say such an amendment would mean the town’s existing ferry terminals outside Plum Island would have non-conforming lots, the town is now moving forward with a bill that includes only the two new zoning districts.

“[Marine district code changes are] not necessary for us to proceed with Plum Island zoning,” Southold Town planning director Heather Lanza said after the meeting. “We want to spend some time thinking through the details of it. It needs a little more work.”

Her comments echoed a sentiment shared earlier in the evening by Riverhead attorney Charles Cuddy, who spoke on behalf of Cross Sound Ferry during a public hearing on the proposed zoning.

“I think [the law] was done hastily,” Mr. Cuddy said.

Ms. Lanza said the Marine District portion of the bill will now be sent back to the town’s code committee for further review before being presented during a future public hearing.

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 recommended the government sell the land to a private developer for the construction of houses on the property.

With that in mind, the Town Board will now turn its attention to approving new research and conservation zones specific to the island. The newly proposed zones aim to ensure Plum Island is used primarily for research and education in the future, according to the bill.

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

The Town Board is expected to adopt the zoning proposal at its Aug. 27 meeting.

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06/26/13 1:36pm
06/26/2013 1:36 PM

Sell Plum Island to a private party.

That is the final federal recommendation from the U.S. General Service Administration, which is handling the sale of the  federally owned island.

The conclusion is based on the results of an environmental impact study released Tuesday that stated the sale would not negatively impact the environment.

The study outlines three development options. From Southold Town’s and environmentalists’ perspective, the most objectionable would be to sell the land to private investors for the construction of up to 500 homes.

The town is working on zoning to prevent any residential or commercial development on the 840-acre island just off the tip of Orient Point.

The other two options mentioned in the EIS are for a buyer to convert the island’s animal disease research lab into a private research or business center or to use the land as a nature preserve.

Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said he supports the island’s conservation and plans to introduce a bill to eliminate the requirement in current law that Plum Island be sold as part of an effort to raise funds for a new $1 billion facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

“I join Southold Town and its residents and other stakeholders in strongly opposing the sale of Plum Island,” Mr. Bishop said in a statement. “The final Plum Island environmental impact statement shows that the island’s unique natural and historic resources are ideally suited for adaptive re-use of the current facility for research and preservation of the undeveloped areas, which has already been identified in Southold Town’s proposed zoning code as the community’s preference if the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center is eventually closed.”

Since the island is federally owned it is not currently subject to local planning regulations. Southold began working on island-specific zoning regulations as a precautionary measure to prevent the construction of condos, “McMansions” or even a casino if the island is sold.

The proposed zoning regulations would divide Plum Island into three districts.

The Plum Island Research District would encompass the existing lab and surrounding 175 acres. About 600 undeveloped acres would be covered by the Plum Island Conservation District, and a Marine District would encompass the existing ferry facilities.

The Save the Sound organization called the final federal impact statement “fundamentally flawed.”

The GSA “has failed to adequately address concerns raised by the public after the draft environmental impact study was released and dismissed the data and information about conservation alternatives,” said Leah Schmalz, the group’s director of legislative and legal affairs. “The GSA has chosen to ignore those interests and to focus solely on putting Plum Island’s natural resources on the auction block.”

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06/14/13 7:00pm
06/14/2013 7:00 PM

The latest Plum Island zoning draft does not include suggestions made by environmental groups, but town officials said the document addresses those issues and additional guidelines were not needed.

While supporting the direction the town’s taking, representatives from eight environmental organizations echoed the same two concerns during a Town Board hearing last month. The groups called for eliminating the possibility of installing solar energy panels in the proposed conservation district, and increasing the total acreage of that zone.

Officials believe the current wording, which only permits the panels as an accessory use, will achieve the town’s preservation goal and provide flexibility to explore the use of alternative energy on the island should zoning move forward.

The 840-acre island is federally owned and is not currently subject to local planning regulations. The town’s efforts to create new zoning categories for the island were prompted by the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to replace the facility off the tip of Orient Point with a new $1 billion animal disease research facility in Manhattan, Kan. If that project progresses, the Plum Island lab would be closed and the property sold to a private investor.

The zoning is a precautionary measure aimed at preventing the construction of condominiums, “McMansions” or even a casino if the island is sold. The pending zoning would create three separate zones reflecting current uses as a research center with its own harbor and considerable open space.

The latest draft allows the construction of solar collectors on 120 acres within the proposed conservation district. The environment organizations believe this type of construction works against preservation and suggested either eliminating or reducing the acreage on which solar generators would be permitted in order to minimize the impact on vegetation and wildlife.

Since any site plan for the island, including those with solar panels, would be subject to approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals, the town believes there is no need to an outright ban, Supervisor Scott Russell said.

The groups also called for increasing the acreage of the proposed conservation district and expanding that district by 37 acres to include land surrounding the Plum Island Lighthouse and acreage northeast of the existing lab.

Planning Department director Heather Lanza said much of that area would be protected by the current town code. Mr. Russell said the zoning is intended to protect both the ecosystem and the research facility, a large source of local employment.

To avoid the need for lot area variances in the future, officials included changes to the minimum lot area for the conservation and research districts. The revised proposal reduces the minimum lot area for the research district from 150 acres to 125 acres and trims the minimum lot area for the conservation district from 500 acres to 350 acres.

The Town Board is expected Tuesday to set a date for the next public hearing on the zoning.

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05/07/13 7:30pm
05/07/2013 7:30 PM

Southold Town’s long-awaited plan to zone Plum Island received an outpouring of support during its first public hearing on Tuesday night.

The proposal suggests dividing Plum Island into three zoning districts.

The Plum Island Research District would encompass the existing lab and surrounding 175 acres. About 600 undeveloped acres would be covered by the Plum Island Conservation District with a Marine District for the existing ferry facilities.

Since the 840-acre island is federally owned, it’s not subject to local planning regulations. The new zoning would take effect only if the island is sold for non-government use.

Reporter Cyndi Murray blogged live from the event. For a recap click the link below:

05/07/13 8:00am

Residents will weigh in on Southold Town’s long-awaited plan to zone Plum Island tonight.

The proposal would divide Plum Island into three zoning districts.

The Plum Island Research District would encompass the existing lab and surrounding 175 acres. About 600 undeveloped acres would be covered by the Plum Island Conservation District with a Marine District for the existing ferry facilities.

Since the 840-acre island is federally owned, it’s not subject to local planning regulations. The new zoning would take effect only if the island is sold for non-government 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 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.

Without restrictive zoning in place, many fear Plum Island could become home to condominiums, “McMansions” or even a casino.

The public hearing on the issue will be held tonight at Town Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m.

04/29/13 6:30pm
04/29/2013 6:30 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | From left: John Turner from Huntington/Oyster Bay Audubon, Randy Parsons from The Nature Conservancy, Congressman Tim Bishop, Charles Rothenberger from Save the Sound.

Environmental groups from both sides of the Long Island Sound  hosted a public meeting in Orient Monday on protecting Plum Island’s undeveloped areas.

Group for the East End and the Save the Sound organization from Connecticut were  joined by Congressman Tim Bishop and dozens of concerned community members at Poquatuck Hall to address the future of the island.

Reporter Cyndi Murray blogged from the meeting. For a recap click on the link below.

04/29/13 8:00am

Environmental groups from both sides of Long Island Sound will host a public meeting on protecting Plum Island’s undeveloped areas in Orient tonight.

The Group for the East End and the Save the Sound organization from Connecticut will be joined by Congressman Tim Bishop at Poquatuck Hall on Skippers Lane for the session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The fate of the 840-acre island off the North Fork’s eastern tip has been in question for several years as federal authorities consider the construction of a replacement animal disease research facility in Manhattan, Kan. That project, which Congress has yet to fully fund, calls for closing the Plum Island lab and selling the property.

The public forum comes just one week before Southold Town will hold a public hearing on the proposal would divide Plum Island into three zoning districts.

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04/24/13 8:00am
04/24/2013 8:00 AM
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 showing the lab building and the ferry landing.

After months of back-and-forth discussions, Southold Town’s long-awaited plan to zone Plum Island is ready for public comment.

During its work session Tuesday the Town Board set the official public hearing on the issue for Tuesday, May 7.

The proposal would divide Plum Island into three zoning districts.

The Plum Island Research District would encompass the existing lab and surrounding 175 acres. About 600 undeveloped acres would be covered by the Plum Island Conservation District with a Marine District for the existing ferry facilities.

Since the 840-acre island is federally owned, it’s not subject to local planning regulations. The new zoning would take effect only if the island is sold for non-government 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 billion animal disease research facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

While Congress has not approved construction funding for that project, town Planning Director Heather Lanza said enacting zoning for Plum Island would be in the town’s best interest.

“The policy would provide the town some control over what can be constructed,” she said.

The hearing will take place in Town Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m.