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North Fork Civics introduce new survey to learn community concerns

As development pressure and population size in Southold continues to grow, the North Fork Civics want town residents to highlight areas of concern in a survey sent out earlier this week. 

Individual civics have sent emails with the survey link to their members. The information gathered will inform the community groups on what to prioritize and guide future partnerships with the town government. Most recently, the civic groups have worked with Southold Town on draft legislation limiting house size in town, with a public hearing coming up on June 21. 

“A lot has changed in the past few years,” said community leader Drianne Benner. “The demographics have changed out here, the concerns have changed out here. We all want to hear from our communities and we’re asking the same questions of every community.”

The East Marion and Orient civic groups have been using results from member surveys conducted a few years ago to guide policy, but now it’s time to “reassess,” Ms. Benner said.  For some civics, this is their first poll of members. 

“This survey, we’ve done as professionally as we can … so that we really do take that temperature and learn and listen to what is on the minds of everyone in the community, whether you’ve been here for one year or you’ve been here for 300 years,” she said. “We want to learn as much as we can and that would give us guidance on our priorities, and priorities across all the hamlets.”

The survey also asks respondents to identify their hamlet, to isolate issues that may be more of a concern in certain areas — such as, perhaps, Plum Island for people in Orient.

The survey will be open until July 31 at nfcivics.org. There will also be paper copies available at local libraries starting June 17 and a few civic members are planning post card drops. Results are intended to be released in September. 

Civic leader Anne Murray said the survey has already received some responses, but it’s too early to pinpoint any specific issues. 

“I think that with all the issues coming up in town now, with the traffic and the environmental issues, the house size thing — the comp plan especially, the town is about to implement the comp plan and people are concerned about that — I think there will be a pretty good response,” she said. “There are so many issues to be worked on that hopefully people are paying attention and they’re going to express their ideas about that to us in the survey.”

Ms. Benner said there will likely be a forum of some kind once the information has been gathered. 

“It’s always been, but it seems like there’s more pressure, more urgency, because there’s more development pressure because of COVID. And it’s happening not just here, it’s all over the country,” Ms. Benner said. “We’re a microcosm of what’s taking place everywhere.”

Ms. Murray pointed out that the East Marion community group originally came together in 2007 when a plan was put forward to convert an abandoned oyster factory into a “huge spa.” 

“But since then, even though that development went away, big developments are coming back — hotels, the traffic is probably five times what it was back then,” she said. “The pressures have become so much more and the environmental concern … has become much greater.”