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Planning, Town Board members discuss minor changes to Comprehensive Plan

Southold’s long-anticipated Comprehensive Plan may soon be coming to fruition as town and planning board members met Monday night to address roughly 90 pages of minor changes and corrections recommended by the planners and derived from community input.

The most important information to come out of the meeting centered around the town’s future steps, in terms of adoption, and a timeline surrounding updates and reviews that may take place down the road. Supervisor Scott Russell and council members Jill Doherty, Bill Ruland, Bob Ghosio and Jim Dinizio agreed, as per the Planning Board’s recommendation, that a five-to-10-year period for updates is wise as it falls in accordance with procedures of other towns. The exact figure, if there will be one, is still being considered. Other towns, Planning Board member Mary Eisenstein said, review their plans periodically, even if they aren’t planning a full update at those times. Mr. Russell agreed that a clause should be added into the plan to highlight a benchmark for review. He suggested either an annual or biannual review, clarifying that portions of the plan may be edited over time, so long as all edits stay consistent with the overall mission statement and goals of the document.

An adoption date was not announced mainly because Monday night’s edits, which the two boards spent an hour discussing, must be physically made to the current document. This will require pricing out the changes, along with one or more rounds of oversight by both boards and the town attorney.

Assistant town planning director Mark Terry recommended that the board consider creating a cover letter to highlight an announcement of the plan’s adoption and implementation expectations and to outline means by which its goals will be prioritized. The supervisor and board members agreed, with Mr. Russell mentioning the need for an implementation committee.

Heather Lanza, the town planning department director, went point by point through the many comments collected at various public forums and comprehensive plan hearings. She said, and town attorney Bill Duffy agreed, that the changes were all minor in nature.

The group did discuss the possibility of including an index for the plan, a request made by a few locals, according to Ms. Lanza. The board will be pricing out an index to determine if it is feasible and warranted as they pointed out that each chapter is fairly short and finding information therein should not be a huge challenge.

Planning Board members will be in touch with the Town Board once they price out the changes.

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