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Mixed views on fining business for unpermitted bulkhead work


Greenport Mayor George Hubbard Jr. is suggesting the Village Trustees impose a $2,500 fine on Greenport Yacht and Shipbuilding for beginning a bulkheading job without a wetlands permit from the village, and then issuing them a permit for the remainder of the job on the condition that any soil being brought onto the site be tested.

But other trustees are saying that the village should be fining the company more.

The company, owned by former mayor Steve Clarke, undertook a plan to remove and and replace 346 feet of existing bulkhead with a 204-foot new bulkhead earlier this year.

The work was done by Costello Marine Contracting, owned by John Costello, who is also a former Village Trustee.

The village had issued a stop-work order on the job over the summer, but once they found out the project had a state Department of Environmental Conservation permit, village officials decided to let the work continue, according to Mr. Hubbard.

Both Mr. Costello and Mr. Clarke said earlier this year that they did not realize a village permit was needed.

“He’s getting fined, and it’s never going to happen again,” Mr. Hubbard said at Thursday’s Trustee meeting. “He’s assured me.”

Mr. Clarke was in attendance at Thursday’s meeting but did not speak.

All of the other four trustees did speak about the proposal, though — and not all seemed to be in favor of it.

“That’s a low fine,” Trustee Doug Roberts said, indicating that the fine could have been as high as $1,500 per day.

“The problem is the process,” he said. “The stop-work order says all you’ve got to do is apply for a permit and we’ll give it to you. We get accused of selective code enforcement and this is why.”

“The job is complete and we’re going to vote on a permit. I find that a little confusing,” Trustee Jack Martilotta said. “It’s done.”

Mr. Hubbard said the Village Board hearing on the wetland permit was on the entire project, but the plan shows it divided in two, which one part representing the work that was done prior to the stop-work order and the other part representing what remains to be done.

He said only the first part is done. Mr. Hubbard plans to submit his proposal for a vote at next Thursday’s Village Board of Trustee meeting.

Officials have said that with the work having begun, it would be damaging to the upland to not to let the work be completed.

Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said Greenport Yacht and Shipbuilding has been around since the 1800s and reflects the village’s maritime history. She said there are about 18 other businesses on the property, the job has DEC approval and the county has tested oyster cages there and found to contaminants.

“I’m excited to see the improvements,” she said.

“This is the finest bulkhead work I’ve seen” Trustee Julia Robins said, echoing some of Ms. Phillips’ comments.

“Walking by and realizing what a vital resource it is, I hope we can work with him,” she said of Mr. Clarke.

Mr. Hubbard planned to submit his proposal for a formal vote at the next Trustee meeting on Sept. 24.