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Greenport officials weigh moratorium to halt all development in the village

Greenport trustees barely passed a last-minute resolution to hold a public hearing on a potential moratorium to temporarily stop all development in the village at last Thursday’s meeting.

Mayor George Hubbard Jr. and Trustee Jack Martilotta voted against the hearing. The resolution was put forward after a discussion prompted by an initial motion to implement a moratorium on “everything immediately” for six months, suggested by Trustee Julia Robins and seconded by Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, after a village resident requested the board temporarily halt development in the village. The moratorium would be to give the village time to review and obtain public comment on its local waterfront revitalization plan as a comprehensive planning document, Ms. Robins said.

“I believe that we are at a crossroads right now and that if we don’t do something to define what we want this village to be, it will be too late,” she said. “We need to pause, whether it’s public hearings or whatever. Clearly at the last meeting that we had a month ago, a lot of people came here and told us that they’re concerned about what’s going on and that we need to hear from them.”

Ms. Robins pointed out that an ongoing review of the LWRP is “clerical in nature” and is not addressing content. The village attorney is still working with the state to approve changes from 2014.

“I thought that the LWRP could become a comprehensive planning document. I was told when I originally proposed this, that it would take forever to come up with a comprehensive plan so we shouldn’t do it. I disagree with that,” she said. 

“We took it to the end of whatever we had submitted to the state and they didn’t consider it because it needed what they called formatting changes. They didn’t consider it at that time but they wanted us to resubmit it in the other format. Same content, just a different format,” said village attorney Joseph Prokop.

Ms. Phillips said she was “torn” on the moratorium, which she had initially suggested with Ms. Robins at a past board meeting, and indicated she wants to continue an ongoing conversation about revising zoning for village Waterfront Commercial properties.

Trustee Peter Clarke said he’s “cautious” about implementing a moratorium and he’s “not sure that voting on the resolution tonight in this format, without it being reviewed and written by us collectively, is in the best interest” of the village. He suggested holding a full discussion at the November work session and voting then instead.

“It would give us a chance to put something together in writing that we’d have a specific goal we can all review and comment on. We’ve engaged I think by putting forth a resolution tonight in something that is out of the ordinary for us, and I applaud that, but at the same time, I don’t want to be overly cautious, but I think we might come out with a better result for everyone if we could take the three weeks to review,” he said. 

Mr. Prokop said a moratorium would need to be created and enforced via local law. The village trustees would need to set a public hearing on a local law setting the moratorium, and then the law would not go into effect until it’s filed with the state. 

Ms. Phillips rescinded her second of the motion and put forward a resolution to authorize the village attorney to work with the village board on a resolution setting a public hearing on a potential moratorium, to be discussed at the next village board work session. It passed in a 3-2 vote.