12/16/14 3:06pm
12/16/2014 3:06 PM
Reg Tuthill, speaking on behalf of his family, addressed the town Planning Board at its meeting Monday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Reg Tuthill addressed the town Planning Board on Monday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A never-before-used section of Southold Town code may finally be applied as a tool to address concerns about a local family’s proposal to subdivide land near Orient Village, it was revealed Monday in Town Hall.

The town Planning Board held a public hearing on the Tuthill family’s plan to build a conjoined conservation subdivision using four parcels. (more…)

12/05/14 6:00am
12/05/2014 6:00 AM

Southold_Town_Hall_Sign41511It’s Sept. 12, 1957, and a Mattituck resident is appearing before the newly created Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals. He wants to add an enclosed porch to his home on Bray Avenue. His is the 22nd appeal ever filed with the ZBA, which was established April 9, 1957, and approved its first variance that June.

The building department had denied the Mattituck man’s application to build the porch, records show, because the alteration would have extended beyond his property’s building line.

So the man applied for the variance. He said it was in the spirit of the law and that the porch wouldn’t change the character of the district because there were “mostly summer dwellings on this street.”

The variance was approved.

Fifty-seven years later, the man’s home appears to have been replaced by a newer, larger house — and the portion of the town’s zoning ordinance that pertains to variance powers has just been amended for the first time. The amendment, approved Tuesday night, dictates that any project requiring a variance must be completed within three years or else the homeowner will need to seek an extension.

The measure was approved 5-1 Tuesday with only board member Jim Dinizio, a former ZBA chairman, voting against it. His argument, which he strongly voiced at a Town Board work session Tuesday morning, is that government should not get a “second bite at the apple.” If a variance is approved, it should remain in perpetuity, he said.

We disagree.

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The amendment is certainly within the spirit of what the town set out to do when it formed the East End’s first ZBA in 1957. As quoted from the April 12, 1957, issue of The Suffolk Times: “The sole purpose of zoning and planning is not to work a hardship on any individual, but to ensure residents of the Town of Southold that their homes and businesses will be protected against undesirable ventures.” The very section of the zoning ordinance amended Tuesday states that it exists, in part, to protect public welfare.

We recognize that it’s a reach to say the addition of an enclosed porch would be an undesirable venture today. But we couldn’t help but notice that the man’s argument in 1957 about why the variance wouldn’t change the character of the district would no longer be accurate. While Bray Avenue, like many other streets in Southold Town, was once filled mostly with summer homes, that’s not exactly the case today.

Communities change. Houses change. People change. Why should a variance be the one thing to remain constant?

11/22/14 12:00pm
11/22/2014 12:00 PM

Southold Town is proposing a code change that would allow builders pay the town a fee rather than replace trees removed during construction.

The code currently requires builders plant a certain amount of trees on a property they are developing. The Planning Board determines the number of required new trees when a site plan is submitted, town officials explained this week. (more…)

06/05/14 7:00am
06/05/2014 7:00 AM
The Town Board approved money to grate swim-friendly beaches, like Gull Pond in Greenport, before the season opens later this month. (Cyndi Murray photo)

The Town Board approved money to grate swim-friendly beaches, like Gull Pond in Greenport, before the season opens later this month. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

To prepare for the opening of Southold Town’s five swim-friendly beaches on June 28, the town’s department of public works is smoothing out sand and cleaning up the shoreline by picking up debris — particularly on Soundfront beaches, which were damaged during the winter.

The Town Board allocated more than $6,000 for beach grading to help in those efforts.

06/04/14 4:00pm
06/04/2014 4:00 PM
The board is hoping to add interactive maps to the Town's website. (Cyndi Murray photo)

The board is hoping to add interactive maps to the Town’s website. (Cyndi Murray photo)

Interactive maps of Southold Town roads may soon be available to the public online.

John Sepenoski, of the town’s information systems department, told the board during Tuesday morning’s work session that the new tool could be made available as soon as the board approves it. (more…)

05/30/14 12:36pm
05/30/2014 12:36 PM
Nile Rodgers at Town Board work session on Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Nile Rodgers at Town Board work session on Thursday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Music legend Nile Rodgers made a visit to Riverhead Town Hall Thursday to iron out details of the upcoming “We Are Family Festival” at Martha Clara Vineyards on Aug. 8 and 10.

And it’s something he hopes to be doing for years to come, apparently.

“I know that we can do something incredible here that is on par with the Sundance Film Festival,” said Mr. Rodgers, who envisions the music festival being an annual event to help local charities.

The Town Board, which discussed the event with Mr Rodgers at its work session Thursday, is expected to vote on a resolution to approve the August event at its formal meeting Tuesday, and board members appear to support the event.

“We had such a great time last year,” said Peter Herman, the co-executive director of Niles Rodgers Productions. “Everyone was just so cooperative and welcoming. And I think it gave Niles and I the feeling that this is home. This is something that’s a community effort and not just us coming in and doing this one time and going away.”

When Mr. Herman told the board that they are hoping to plan the event for not only this year, but also next year, Mr. Rodgers added, “and the year after that, and the year after that.”

“I think it puts Riverhead on the map for good things,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Mr. Rodgers, whose group Chic had a number of hits in the 1970s and 1980s and who has been a successful producer of many other well known hits for other artists, was involved in last year’s “All for the East End” concert at Martha Clara, which raised about $70,000 for a variety of East End charities and nonprofit organizations.

This year, AFTEE will be a beneficiary of the concert, but it won’t be organizing it, as it did last year — news that had surprised AFTEE organizers when it came out. That job will be handled by the Nile Rodgers Foundation, which also will raise money for local charities in what’s being called the “We Are Family Festival,” named after the non-profit “We Are Family Foundation” run by Mr. Rodgers, who also produced the song “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.

Unlike last year’s concert, which was a one-day event held on a Monday, this will be a two-day event held on a Saturday and Sunday.

There will not be a downtown concert on Aug. 8, the Friday before the event, as originally planned, Mr. Herman said. He hopes to have a downtown event on the Friday before a music festival in 2015, and says it takes about a year to set up these type of events.

Last year’s performers included Chic, Adam Lambert and Avicci. The event drew about 5,000 people, according to Mr. Herman.

The promoters have yet to announce what performers will be playing this year, or what charities will benefit, although Councilman George Gabrielsen suggested that some local recreation programs are in need of money.

This year’s event also is proposing to have two stages with performers at the same time, so that when one act finishes, there will still be music playing, Mr. Herman said.

Mr. Rodgers said he was impressed by how smoothly last year’s festival went.

“We do this every day of our lives and I’ve seen the most chaotic situations, but this town handled it so well last year, it’s just amazing to me.”

He said initially, he wasn’t sure he wanted to do the festival again this year, because the past year has been one of the most successful of his life and he’s been getting a lot of offers from other places.

Mr. Rodgers won three Grammy Awards earlier this year for his work with Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams.

“But I wanted to come back here because it just felt right,” he said.

Mr. Walter said he only heard one complaint about last year’s concert, and that was from a Southold Town resident, while Councilman John Dunleavy said he didn’t hear any complaints.

Mr. Gabrielsen, who lives in Jamesport, said he heard complaints from residents on Bay Run Lane, a small road that is right next to Martha Clara.

Mr. Herman said they want to work with anyone with complaints to try and alleviate their problems.