Plum Island zoning hearing at Town Hall tonight

Residents will weigh in on Southold Town’s long-awaited plan to zone Plum Island tonight.

The proposal would divide Plum Island into three zoning districts.

The Plum Island Research District would encompass the existing lab and surrounding 175 acres. About 600 undeveloped acres would be covered by the Plum Island Conservation District with a Marine District for the existing ferry facilities.

Since the 840-acre island is federally owned, it’s not subject to local planning regulations. The new zoning would take effect only if the island is sold for non-government use. The town’s planning department began working on the zoning after the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to replace the Plum Island lab with a new $1 billion animal disease research facility in Manhattan, Kan. The project calls for closing the Plum Island lab and selling the property to a private investor.

Without restrictive zoning in place, many fear Plum Island could become home to condominiums, “McMansions” or even a casino.

The public hearing on the issue will be held tonight at Town Hall beginning at 7:30 p.m.