Vandenburgh: BID should have input in SEQRA review of village moratorium

A candidate for mayor of Greenport in the upcoming March election has written the Village Board maintaining that Business Improvement District members need to be represented during the State Environmental Quality Review study of the proposal to continue a moratorium on further development in waterfront commercial districts.

Richard Vandenburgh, president of the village BID, said the organization has not been contacted regarding the SEQRA process and wishes to be acknowledged by the lead agency, the Village Board, as a valid participant in the review process. 

“We respectfully demand to be included as an interested agency for purposes of obtaining the necessary information and providing feedback with regard to this process,” he wrote.

In an email this week, Mr. Vandenburgh said he wants BID to have a seat at the table during the SEQRA process as the moratorium goes forward. “The point of my request for respectfully demanding that BID be deemed an interested agency was based on my understanding and strong interest that BID should be involved … through the SEQRA process,” he wrote. 

The Suffolk Times reached out to village officials for comment on Mr. Vandenburgh’s demand. In an email, Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said, the BID is “an interested party and not an involved party, and they have no right to be involved.” At the same time, he said, three members of the Village Board are also BID members — and one is on the BID’s board.

Without economic and other impact data, Mr. Vandenburgh’s letter said, BID members can’t be confident a full moratorium is “the best course of action in all accurate circumstances.” 

Speaking at an earlier board meeting in December, he had complimented the Village Board’s decision to tackle the subject of a moratorium, but also said a moratorium could undermine Greenport’s strength.

He suggested a “pause” in difficult projects and advised the Village Board to seek advice from planning experts.

“The direct impact of this proposed law affecting the BID and its members is indisputable. Our residents, property owners and business operators should have the benefit of clearly understanding how this will impact their holdings, livelihood and economic interests,” Mr. Vandenburgh wrote. He said there remains a “tremendous amount of confusion” about the proposed moratorium.

“It is not fair to our members and businesses to proceed” without considering the impact the SEQRA report and economic framework could have if a full moratorium continues, he said.