Greenport plans to update its waterfront plan

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO  |  A commercial fishing boat docked in Greenport.
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The Miss Nancy fishing boat motors through Greenport Harbor, a main focus of the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

In the years since Greenport’s last Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan was completed in 1988, Mitchell Park and its marina have been constructed and become a central part of the Front Street scene, and STIDD Systems, a manufacturer of high-end boat seats, opened in a long-closed shipyard, providing a healthy number of high-paying jobs.

Both of those developments were encouraged in that 1988 plan.

Now the village is looking to update its LWRP and expand the document to serve as a comprehensive plan for how Greenport residents envision their village developing for years to come.

In particular, village representatives and residents hope changes to the plan will focus on preserving the working waterfront and boosting the year-round economy.

The Greenport Village Board is putting the finishing touches on the new plan, which will be rolled out for a formal public hearing within the next few months. Board members met with consultant David Smith Feb. 28 at the Little Red Schoolhouse to discuss some final revisions.

The proposals outlined in the update include expanding the historic district and redeveloping the dilapidated baymen’s dock property on the east side of Stirling Harbor to serve aquaculturists. Also proposed is the rezoning of several landlocked parcels on the south side of Front Street from the waterfront commercial category to a new waterfront commercial/recreation and residential district, which would allow more potential uses.

The plan also encourages the creation of walking paths along the waterfront.

Mayor David Nyce was quick to point out that the potential zoning changes are only suggestions — and even if the LWRP is adopted, a separate local law and public hearing would be required to make those changes.

“These are not things that will happen, these are things that can happen,” he said.

Mr. Smith said owners of landlocked “waterfront commercial” properties at the eastern end of Front Street currently have to come before the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals to open, say, a pet store.

“Do you want to put the proprietor through the added expense?” he asked. “You don’t want to put up too many hurdles.”

He said that adding a residential component to properties in the new zoning area would help the village achieve the smart growth principle of creating a community of residents who can walk rather than drive to neighboring shops.

Trustee Chris Kempner also recommended that the village’s site plan process for waterfront properties include a provision for public access to the water. She pointed out that in Riverhead, the public can walk along the downtown waterfront until they reach the Long Island Aquarium, where they have to pay to access the river.

“If somebody has a marina on the waterfront, should they have a public boardwalk along the waterfront?” asked Ms. Kempner. “It would be just like if you want a curb cut, you should put in a sidewalk or another public amenity.”

The Village Board also discussed the small marinas along Sterling Street, which were pegged for possible expansion in an early draft of the waterfront plan. Board members said they believe those marinas, which are in a residential neighborhood, are big enough as is.

“The intent is to make the document match the uses currently,” said Mr. Nyce.

In a survey of village residents compiled in conjunction with the preparation of the LWRP, 70 percent of respondents said they believe the village needs a larger working waterfront. Ninety-five percent said they believe aquaculture has a future in Greenport, while 70 percent said they believe there’s not enough downtown parking.

The plan recommends the village look into providing parking near the Greenport School during busy tourist seasons, along with a shuttle to downtown.

The draft also calls for placing most residential properties in the village in the R2, or multifamily, zoning district, which would enable residents to add accessory apartments to their homes. The one exception, to remain an R1 or one-family district due to its size and environmental sensitivity, would be Sandy Beach, a waterfront community of small lots on the east side of Stirling Harbor. The village is currently preparing a study of extending village sewer service to that area.

The plan also urges the dredging of Stirling Harbor, a project placed on the back burner by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but which is required for large boats to access the harbor.

“The whole Stirling Basin is an economic area that’s different from downtown,” said Trustee Mary Bess Phillips. “Everybody thinks business is just downtown.”

The LWRP also proposes expanding the McCann Campground and trails through Moore’s Woods to encourage environmental tourism.

“I think it’s a thorough document. I’m happy with the outcome,” said Mr. Nyce.

The village plans to post the draft LWRP on its website, after which a public hearing will be scheduled.

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