Awaiting more info, Village Board delays decisions on wetlands permit and smoking ban

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Trustee Michael Osinski leaves the Greenport Village Board after a four-year stint, having opted not to seek re-election this year. He has challenged others to get involved, attend meetings and consider running for office.

If meetings have a theme, Monday night’s Greenport Village Board meeting was about process — who’s following it and who’s not.

First up was an application from owner Paul Henry of Osprey Zoning Corp. for a wetlands permit to rebuild what his agent, John Costello of Costello Marine Contracting, called a “dangerous, dilapidated structure in Sterling Harbor.”

Neighbors along Sterling Street generally favor the rebuild, with some concerns about parking in the area. But John Mancini was concerned about how Mr. Henry, who apparently filed the application only six months ago, got in front of the Village Board so quickly.

It took Mr. Mancini about three years to win approval to rebuild his Sterling Street home after a fire destroyed it several years ago.

The answer appears to be that somehow, the application landed on the Village Board agenda without having received clearance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which the board requires before it considers a wetlands application.
Mr. Costello asked for conditional approval that would kick in only if the Army Corps of Engineers OK’d the project.

What he got was a unanimous board vote to table the application until the Army Corps of Engineers has weighed in on the work.

Next up, Trustee Chris Kempner tried unsuccessfully to move a resolution for a hearing in April on her proposal to ban smoking within 30 feet of a children’s play area. Mayor David Nyce and Trustee Mary Bess Phillips insisted the issue was still before the code committee on which all three sit. They accused Ms. Kempner of trying to bypass the process requiring the full code committee to first share its thoughts with the Village Board.

Not so, Ms. Kempner told The Suffolk Times Tuesday morning. She said she introduced the idea to the code committee Jan. 19 and has been trying to push it forward at three subsequent committee meetings without success.

“So many things get stuck and don’t move,” she said. “It’s a little disingenuous to say that I jumped it.”

She called her resolution “a simple fix” and that the code committee has kicked the issue around long enough.

Ms. Phillips said she favors the ban, but wants to adhere to the process. The mayor has said he doesn’t favor trying to legislate behavior, but he thought it should eventually come to the public for discussion after code committee members make a recommendation.

The board agreed to hold off a hearing pending the code committee’s report.

“I would rather move slowly and correctly,” Mr. Nyce said.


Board members agree they want to regulate downtown parking during summer months. The village established two-hour limits along much of Front and Main streets and parking on other roads is limited to 30 minutes. But there are no street signs saying that.

Mr. Nyce appeared before the Southold Town Board Tuesday morning to ask that the town police post a traffic control officer in the village. He was told that would cost Greenport about $770 a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Mr. Nyce said he will ask his board next week to approve the expenditure, but admitted he doesn’t yet have parking meters purchased or installed and doesn’t know what the parking fee might be. Metering is a high priority item on the village’s capital improvement list, the mayor said. He also said he would like an officer to work through the Maritime Festival on the weekend of Sept. 23-25.

During Monday’s Village Board meeting, Business Improvement District president Mike Acebo applauded steps taken toward enforcing the time limits, which would free up additional parking. But he admitted that some merchants and their employees leave their vehicles on the street in front of their businesses. He also called for improved lighting in the Adams Street parking area and designated parking for business employees.

Existing lighting is in place, but many lights aren’t working, former trustee Bill Swiskey said.

What’s allowed in Mitchell Park and what isn’t? That’s another concern BID members have, Mr. Acebo said. Although proponents of a farmers market on Saturday morning in the park said BID endorsed the idea, some members clearly aren’t happy about what they view as use of the park for a retail operation, he said. He didn’t specifically point to the farmers market project, but Leueen Miller of the Greenport Business Association did. That will be the subject of a special meeting at the Third Street firehouse on Friday, April 8, at 6 p.m., when proponents and opponents will have an opportunity to make their views on the market plan known.

The village should develop specific criteria for the park’s use, Mr. Acebo said. Mr. Nyce responded that the code committee is considering that.

On hold is a request from Sts. Anargyroi and Taxiarhis Church to use the park for the congregation’s annual two-day festival, July 16 and 17. While organizers said they would bypass any activities to which the board objected, Ms. Phillips said she wants church members to submit a list so the board can approve or disapprove each one. Mr. Nyce said he would work with the organizers to develop a more specific event request.

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