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Commission: Orient Historic District boundaries are incorrect

The Orient Historic District is considerably larger than Southold Town has believed. Members of the town Historic Preservation Commission said the town has been relying on incorrect maps that leave about 50 parcels out of the district.

At least six properties in the historic district filed applications for alterations or new structures that should have been reviewed by the commission to ensure appropriateness, but were not, commission member Robert Harper said outside Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

It’s unclear how long the town has been working with boundaries that were “wildly out of whack,” said Anne Surchin, vice chairwoman of the commission.

“To say that a few things have fallen through the cracks would not be an understatement,” she said.

The discrepancies were discovered after new commission member Ted Webb asked a simple question: What are the boundaries of the Orient Historic District?

That led Ms. Surchin to the New York State Historic Preservation Office, which had maps on its website showing simplified and incomplete district boundaries that the town ended up using. The state office will correct its map, she said.

The properties left out include homes, vacant land and farmland that were within of the district’s boundaries when it was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Not all of the omitted parcels or structures are considered historic or are landmarked, but they still contribute to the district, Ms. Surchin said. It’s important to reassure owners of homes in the district that are not historic — such as ranch-style houses from the 1960s and ’70s — that they will be treated differently from, for example, Oysterponds Historical Society buildings on Village Lane if they apply for building permits that affect the exterior of the home, she said.

The incorrect boundaries left out other spots, as well, including the Orient wharf.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell recommended that the town first deal with the misunderstanding from a public relations perspective, to let owners know their properties are within the boundaries of the district.

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File photo: Spring day on Village Lane in Orient. (Credit: Krysten Massa)