05/08/15 10:00am
05/08/2015 10:00 AM
Two deer grazing behind a Cutchogue. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Two deer grazing behind a Cutchogue home. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

A decades-old law in Southold Town could soon be eliminated to ease the process for residents to obtain deer hunting permits following a recommendation from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The proposed legislation before the Southold Town Board would eliminate a 1960s law that requires hunters to receive a special permit from the town clerk’s office in addition to a state-issued hunting permit.

(more…)

02/24/15 6:31pm
02/24/2015 6:31 PM

Southold Town officials are looking into the feasibility of relocating the justice court to the community center on Peconic Lane.

The Town Board has had to turn its attention to the court in recent months to acknowledge safety concerns and a lawsuit that alleges Southold Town — along with several other East End municipalities — lacks adequate conference space where attorneys can meet privately with clients.

The Town Board is currently considering whether to build a new facility or reconfigure existing town buildings to create a safer, more efficient court.

• See related story: Town Board mulling new $3M courthouse building

During its work session on Tuesday, Town Board members discussed holding court on its regular days — Monday and Friday mornings — in the community center as a temporary solution.

Southold Town Recreation Department director Ken Reeves said the space is mostly used at night and he believes scheduling court on Monday and Friday mornings won’t be an issue.

Councilman Jim Dinizo is expected to chair a committee tasked with finding out if the community center is a viable spot for the courthouse.

[email protected]

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…)

04/24/13 1:25pm
04/24/2013 1:25 PM

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Southold Town officials said the high usage at Strawberry Fields in Mattituck has hurt the athletic fields there.

Southold Town Board members may vote in a matter of weeks on a policy to restrict for-profit bike rides and footraces on town roads. A policy is being drafted that would ban all for-profit outdoor events and limit the number of participants in nonprofit bike rides to 600. Nonprofit footraces would not be subject to that cap.

Last month Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said these types of activities are doubling in size and straining the police department’s resources. The policy would not affect events that have already been approved by the town this year. Any proposed event would still require the board’s approval.

Chief Flatley’s comments prompted the board to revisit other private uses of public land, specifically at Strawberry Fields, which is deteriorating due to a high volume of usage.

“We just can’t host private businesses earning income off town property,” Town Supervisor Scott Russell said. He added that many residents are upset nonresident sports leagues are destroying the field.

Currently the town requires sports teams to provide proof of residency. Nonresident groups are charged $150 a day to use the field. In the future, they may be required to prove that 65 percent of their team members live in Southold Town.

The policy is being reviewed by the recreation department and will be taken up by the board at an upcoming meeting.

[email protected]

07/07/11 7:13am
07/07/2011 7:13 AM

Neighbors of Satur Farms on Alvah’s Lane in Cutchogue are still hopping mad about large refrigerator trucks belonging to the farm that are left idling at the property day and night.

They’ve been sending letters and approaching Town Board members to do something about issues that were to have been addressed by a site plan for a new barn recently approved by the Town Planning Board.

The problem is, that barn hasn’t been built yet, Southold planning director Heather Lanza told the Town Board during its Tuesday morning work session.

“How much of this is an agricultural operation, how much is a shipping operation?” asked Supervisor Scott Russell. “Is it a permitted use as accessory or is it the principal use? … This is a slippery slope. Under the umbrella of agriculture, a lot is allowed.”

The Planning Board was satisfied that enough planting of crops was taking place to consider the shipment of vegetables an ancillary use. The site plan the board approved required the trucks to be placed inside the barn, where they would plug into electrical outlets to keep their refrigeration working instead of idling around the clock. The approved site plan also requires hosing down dirt roads to keep dust under control.

Neighbors have voiced displeasure about trucks they say are left idling on the side of the road, where produce is loaded and unloaded on public property. Satur Farms has another farm in Florida that supplies vegetables in the winter.

John Lademann, who lives across the street from Satur Farms, referred to the property as a trucking depot, not a farm.

“Some trucks are running all night,” he said. “The drivers are sleeping in their truck on the side of the road. Something’s gotta give. We’re putting signs up. The next thing is a petition.”

Mr. Russell said the town plans to issue citations to trucks that conduct business on the town road, and is discussing with counsel how to get the farm to comply with its site plan.

“I don’t blame any of the people who live down there,” said Councilman Chris Talbot. “I wouldn’t want that next to me.”

WINERY USE QUESTIONED

Another agricultural operation, Sherwood House Vineyard on Elijah’s Lane in Cutchogue, has also come under fire from officials.

Ray Huntington of the town’s land preservation committee told the Town Board Tuesday that he was concerned Sherwood House Vineyard was operating a wine-tasting area on land that had been preserved through the sale of development rights to the town.

“We want to make sure easements maintain their integrity,” he said. “We need to enforce them with more vigor.”

Board members said the matter is currently being heard in state Supreme Court. Sherwood House is also set to appear before the Planning Board next Monday evening for a public hearing on a site plan application for an outdoor wine tasting area on a patio adjacent to their winery.

BRING YOUR OWN BAG

The recent audit of a local supermarket revealed that Southold Town needs to charge tax on town lawn and leaf bags, which are sold at a dozen vendors throughout town.

Unlike the yellow town garbage bags, which are required, the state does not allow a tax exemption for the paper lawn and leaf bags emblazoned with the town seal.

To avoid the headaches associated with having to file sales tax receipts, board members agreed Tuesday to halt the sale of the paper bags once the existing inventory of 13,000 bags is depleted. Residents will still be required to put their leaves in biodegradable bags, which are available commercially at local hardware stores and other outlets, but were never required to use bags carrying the town seal.

“People had the misunderstanding that they need them,” said  Mr. Russell.

SCREENED SAND BLOWS AWAY

Southold spent $50,000 on screened sand to build up a dune at the edge of Town Beach during the recent rehabilitation project there, and although the Federal Emergency Management Agency will likely reimburse the town for it, Town Board members are worried that the sand might be too fine to keep from blowing away.

“It’s got a lifespan of about three weeks on that beach,” Supervisor Russell said.

Most of the sand used to replenish Town Beach was donated by Cross Sound Ferry, which had recently dredged the waters near its dock in Orient.

“It’s heavier than bay sand. It’s gritty sand. But you’ve already seen, some of it has already blown into the parking lot,” public works director Jim McMahon. “We’re going to lose some of it, but we basically ran out of free material.”

Although Mr. McMahon was quick to point out that Southold taxpayers will not be footing the bill, some board members were skeptical.

“Even from FEMA, it’s still taxpayer money,” said Justice Louisa Evans.

[email protected]

04/29/11 10:05am
04/29/2011 10:05 AM

Most of Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue was preserved by Southold Town this week, despite an ongoing controversy over owner Lewis Edson’s use of a large barn on the property as a retail store.

The Southold Town Board agreed Tuesday night to purchase the development rights to all but five of Mr. Edson’s 27.8 acres for $60,000 per acre.

The five acres excluded from the purchase are the property along Route 25 that includes a house, the barn and associated parking.

Mr. Edson has been embroiled in litigation with the town for several years after the town cited him for using the 8,000-square-foot barn as a store.

A state Supreme Court justice ruled in favor of the town in 2009, and Mr. Edson subsequently applied to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance that would deem the barn a farm stand. That application was approved. In order to be labeled a farm stand within the code, he would need to scale back the store to 3,000 square feet and 60 percent of the gross dollar sales from the shop would have to be of agricultural products grown in Southold.

Mr. Edson has since sued the ZBA over those restrictions.

Cutchogue resident Benja Schwartz was the only person who spoke at the public hearing on the acquisition.

“I’m for land preservation, but I see that as a conflict of interest,” he said. “The use of the farm stand is the subject of the litigation.”

Town Board member Al Krupski, who serves as the board’s liaison to the land preservation committee, said that the lawsuit never came up in their discussion of the application.

“The committee made its decision based on the location. It’s contiguous to other farmland. It completes a large block of [preserved] land,” he said. “In 100 years, is it still going to be in the current use, with the same owner?”

Town Board member Louisa Evans was quick to point out that the portion of the property that is the subject of the lawsuit is not part of the purchase.

More money for CPF

Southold is planning to enrich its Community Preservation Fund account.

The town hopes to purchase a total of six properties this year and will likely need to borrow money by August to cover the program’s costs, according to Town comptroller John Cushman.

In 2007 the town authorized borrowing $22 million for CPF purchases, but has issued only $12 million in bonds since then, according to land preservation director Melissa Spiro. During Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Mr. Cushman recommended issuing bonds for the other $10 million this August to take advantage of a low interest rate.

“If we do nothing and try to close deals in September, we’ll be out of money,” Mr. Cushman said.

“Essentially, your program is shut down and you’re rolling the dice as far as debt service payments for the rest of the year,” he added.

Supervisor Scott Russell agrees.

“The idea is to have money in the account each year so we don’t have to look to the general fund to cover debt service,” he said. “The reality is, it’s getting tight now with projects pending and it’s penny wise and pound foolish to not borrow money.”

The town has budgeted for $2.8 million in CPF revenue this year, and plans to put $2.4 million into a reserve fund to cover the annual debt service on all of the money the town has borrowed for CPF purchases, in the event that the town does not take in enough money in any given year to cover its debts.

Although the real estate market continues to show few signs of improvement, Southold’s first-quarter CPF revenue was $848,865 this year, up from $697,728 in the same quarter last year.

The CPF program lasts until 2030, and before then towns will have to pay back any debt incurred for land preservation purchases.

Land preservation committee member Ray Huntington told the board that he thought the town had been very conservative in its use of CPF money in the past.

“Borrowing is a tool that we can use for the benefit of the public, but it can also screw it up,” he said. “But we’re safe. We have both feet on dry land … We only have a small window to borrow where it makes any sense at all. If we borrowed in 2029, we would have to pay it back the next day, almost.”

Storm grant estimates in

Southold has received concrete estimates of potential FEMA reimbursement for cleanup work in the Hashamomuck Cove area hit hard by flooding and erosion during the nor’easter of Dec. 26, 2010.

FEMA estimates that cleanup at Town Beach, Kenney’s Beach, McCabe’s Beach and the end of Soundview Avenue will cost $475,242. FEMA will pay $356,431 and Southold Town and New York State will each pay $59,405. The project at Town Beach is currently awaiting DEC permits.

Laurel Lake REBID

A project proposed last fall to tear down an old dock and several concrete foundations at the Laurel Lake Preserve on Route 25 will be rebid this spring. The project, to be paid for by a New York State grant, involves carrying sections of concrete foundation out of the woods by hand because they cannot be reached with excavation equipment.

Paper-shredding party

Southold is planning to set up a day or weekend later this spring when businesses and residents can bring paper documents to a town facility to be shredded for free.

If the town can collect 7,000 pounds of paper, it will not need to pay contractors who recycle high-quality office paper after they shred it, said solid waste coordinator Jim Bunchuck.

A date has not yet been set.

[email protected]