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Public hearing set for Dec. 3 on zoning change near Plum Island ferry terminal

Residents will be able to weigh in on a conceptual new zoning district proposed for the Plum Island ferry terminal in Orient.

The Town Board voted last week to schedule a public hearing on the potential new Marine III zone for Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.

“There’s an uncertainty of the fate of [Plum] Island, which mens there’s uncertainty of the gateway to the island,” Supervisor Scott Russell said at a work session last Tuesday, referencing the roughly nine-acre property in Orient that is currently zoned Marine II.

Mr. Russell said the new zone was discussed at a code committee meeting and its purpose is to preempt the future closure of the research facility and sale of Plum Island.

According to Bob DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, development of the property in Orient has been of concern.

“[The General Services Administration] in our discussions previously said they were perfectly willing to segregate portions of the property for sale,” he said, noting that the Long Island-side parcel is potentially more marketable and developable than the 840-acre Plum Island.

Under the revised proposal, the only permitted use in the Marine III district would be ferry terminals for service to and from Plum Island.

Accessory uses, according to town attorney Bill Duffy, would include ticket offices, waiting areas, a snack bar, offices, storage sheds and museums.

Mr. Russell said their intent was to provide reasonable added uses that would benefit the future of Plum Island without changing current Marine districts.

“We really didn’t want to set about discussing changes to existing marine zones and having impacts to existing businesses,” he said.

The measure was met with support at last week’s meeting.

“It’s a step in the right direction to preserve Plum Island and associated properties,” said Bob Hanlon, a Democratic candidate for Town Board.

Louise Harrison, a coordinator for Save the Sound, also thanked the town for setting a hearing.

“We think this is a key piece in protecting Plum Island and also should go a long way to protecting our most delicate far eastern end of the town, Orient and Orient Point, on many levels,” she said.

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