Town will target side-road speeders

Here’s a warning for drivers who like to zip around Southold’s back roads at not-quite-under the speed limit: The police will be (radar) gunning for you.

In response to Supervisor Scott Russell’s call for stepped-up enforcement, the police department will expand the range of sector car patrols to include side streets, Chief Ty Cochran told the Town Board Tuesday. The chief was asked to appear before the board to discuss the department’s options for addressing the growing number of speeding complaints. The supervisor suggested a simple and direct approach.

“I want to get a reputation as a town that writes speeding tickets on side streets,” he said Tuesday. He was quick to note that such a reputation may involve considerable political risk and joked about the potential for a change in his employment. “I hope you’ll all come visit me at Best Buy,” he said.

Chief Cochran later said that previous anti-speeding efforts have yielded surprising results. Some years ago, the department reacted aggressively after receiving complaints about drivers racing to make the Orient ferry. But the motorists nabbed weren’t ferry-bound, the chief said. They were Orient residents who work in Greenport running home for lunch.

Ahead of the curve

Long Island Pine Barrens Society director Dick Amper came to town this week with a warning about developers looking to take advantage of a down real estate market by squeezing in more units at a lesser price. In Brookhaven, the town is considering 60 downzoning bids, some seeking as much as a 400 percent increase in density over what’s currently allowed.

Zoning is an “import public asset” that allows a community to control growth and shape its future, Mr. Amper told the board. “Government just can’t give that away,” he said. A builder’s boast that the project will incorporate “green” building designs doesn’t justify their receiving “public wealth” without providing public benefits, he said.

“They’re having a hard time building new homes following the pattern of the McMansions we’ve seen over the past 10 years,” he told the board. The units that sell are in the $300,000 range. That trend is “moving inexorably eastward,” he said.

Mr. Amper has been going from town to town suggesting that local governments set specific criteria and policies for considering downzoning applications, rather than considering each project on a case-by-case basis.

No need to worry, said Councilman Albert Krupski. The town enacted just such a policy about five years ago. In addition to that, the board no longer automatically forwards such zoning requests to the Suffolk County Planning Commission and the town’s Planning Board for their review. If the board isn’t likely to grant such a change, it’s simply returned to the applicant. The town is under no legal obligation to entertain any zone change requests.

The councilman said there had been some initial discussion on the potential for Planned Development Districts, which raise density, but the idea never took root. With that development option, “There’s too much room for mischief,” he said.

Stow that line!

Cast-off fishing line fouls propellers and injures and kills wildlife and people. That’s the impetus for a new monofilament recycling program launched by group of Southold Webelo Scouts. The Webelo program — the name is an acronym for “we’ll be loyal” scouts — is a two-year transition between Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts. The boys from Southold Den 6, Jacob Dominy, Ryan Burns, Liam Corbley and John Bertschi, are assembling PVC canisters to be placed at beaches frequented by fishermen. Anyone finding discarded line can place it in the container. The scouts will send it off to a recycling firm.

The boys, who have been working with the North Fork Environmental Council and town public works director Jim McMahon, hope to have the containers in place by Memorial Day.

“Our group is very excited and hopeful that the monofilament recycling program of Southold will make a difference on our shores,” Jacob Dominy told the board.

Mr. Russell said they’ll be invited back to a future board meeting to be honored for their efforts.

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