What does the future hold for Plum Island?

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Research work could continue on Plum Island’s westernmost section under new zoning proposed by Southold’s Planning Department.

Southold’s planning department has released a preliminary plan to place Plum Island under two separate zoning districts, neither of which would permit large scale housing or active recreational projects.

There is no zoning in place on the federally owned island. The town’s action comes in response to a proposal to construct a new animal disease research facility in Kansas and close the Plum Island facility. That project has languished for lack of federal funding.

Planning director Heather Lanza told the Town Board at Tuesday’s work session that the first district, comprising the 175 acres currently used for the USDA research laboratory, would be called the Plum Island Research District.

The second, the Plum Island Conservation District, would include the remaining 600-plus acres.

In the research district, the only buildings that could be constructed would be research laboratories, educational facilities and dormitories. Buildings owned or operated by Southold Town or the island’s fire district would also be permitted.

Land in the conservation district could be used only as a nature preserve for passive recreation, a museum or an educational facility related to the study of natural resources, conservation or historic preservation. As with the other zoning category, structures owned or operated by Southold Town or the fire district also would be permitted.

Alternative energy production would be an allowed special exception use in each area.

“It’s really a rough draft. Everything is subject to change,” Ms. Lanza said.

The Town Board plans to schedule a code committee meeting in the near future to discuss the proposal.

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