Residents packed the Third Street Fire Station Tuesday night to protest the board’s decision to hold another public hearing on a matter trustees already voted on last year that would allow a 140-foot dock built in Greenport Harbor.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the board scheduled another hearing regarding a wetlands permit application submitted by a local oyster farmer.
That hearing will be held on June 23.
After a somewhat controversial public hearing on the application in November, the board approved Widows Hole Oyster Company’s proposal to build the dock near the bay side of his property on Flint Street, just south of the North Ferry, to store some of his equipment.
But on Tuesday members said that the construction could not move forward due to a clerical error made by the village. The two-word typo in November’s legal ad notifying the public of the hearing misstated the size of the dock, causing for potential legal repercussions down the line, Mayor David Nyce said.
The error forces the wetlands permit to be re-noticed for public hearing and makes the board initial passage of the application moot, he said.
Further complicating the issue was the manner in which December’s resolution was adopted. A verbal amendment made by the board moments prior to its passage was never clear to owner and applicant Michael Osinski, who is now suing the village over the last minute change and failure to receive his building permit.
Furthermore, the Osinskis said they were not notified of the need for a new public hearing more than three hours before Tuesday’s meeting.
“What you are doing is ruthless,” said Widow’s Hole Oyster Company co-owner and Mr. Osinski’s wife, Isabel. “It is a technicality.”
She was not alone in her disappointment. For nearly two hours residents, neighbors and fellow business owners spoke out in support of the applicant and against the concept of another public hearing, adding that the business is losing money as the board drags its feet.
“We see ourselves as a working waterfront we should help people in aqua-culture”’ said resident Caroline Waloski.
Board members, however, stayed firm on following the law, though they did offer alternatives to help move the process along.
“I would like to see the public hearing date moved up,” Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said. “I think this needs to move forward because it was based on one of our staff members making a mistake.”
The board seemed ready move up the date of the public hearing and vote the resolution after its immediately conclusion, but the Osinski’s attorney publicly advised the couple against rushing the hearing.
Mr. Nyce said the board would likely approve the application again, though it would be unlikely the village would issue the building permit for the dock due to the pending legal action.