Editorial: Too much red tape in Greenport Village?

Steve Clarke and John Costello

At a recent Greenport Village Board meeting, conservation advisory council member John Saladino questioned how his committee could conduct a site visit for a bulkheading project that was nearly complete. He also asked how a public hearing could be held on that same project.

It’s a fair line of questioning, especially considering that the work was being done by a former village trustee, John Costello of Costello Marine, at the business of a former mayor, Steve Clarke of Greenport Yacht & Shipbuilding. The work even continued for a time after a stop-work order had been issued, since the two men showed they had DEC approvals.

Mr. Clarke said neither he nor Mr. Costello knew a village wetlands permit was required until recently, after the work had begun. It’s a claim that smells about as fishy as the wetlands where the bulkhead is being installed. If two former village board members who make their living on the waterfront don’t understand the rules, who does? And what mechanism is in place to prevent other local business owners from beginning projects without the necessary village approvals and then claiming ignorance when they get caught? (Something that already happens quite often.)

All that said, perhaps there is too much red tape to cut through for projects like this. If a business owner has to seek a permit from the DEC to complete the work, maybe the DEC should oversee the project the rest of the way. It would be one less function a village with limited resources would have to perform. After all, half the work was completed before the village even seemed to notice.

Instead what we have is a muddled explanation, confused board members and a drawn-out process that has prevented the project from being completed, even when there’s very little doubt the permit will eventually be approved.

Photo: Steve Clarke addressing the Village Board at last week’s meeting with John Costello. (Credit: Tim Gannon)