01/23/16 10:25am
01/23/2016 10:25 AM


During separate press conferences Saturday morning, both Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the county, following news that the North Shore and East End of Long Island are expected to get 12 to 18 inches of snow and the South Shore 18 to 24 inches.


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09/04/15 3:54pm
09/04/2015 3:54 PM

The intersection of Depot Lane and Route 48 in Cutchogue where four women where killed when an alleged drunk driver plowed into the limo they were riding in on Saturday afternoon.

Plans for a fourth lawsuit in the wake of July’s limousine crash that left four women dead have been filed, charging both the town and Suffolk County with “failing to own, operate, manage, plan, maintain, repair, design, inspect, supervise and control” the intersection where the fatal Route 48 crash occurred. READ

12/20/13 12:00pm
12/20/2013 12:00 PM

CYNDI MURRAY FILE PHOTO | Councilman Chris Talbot was honored for his service as a town board member Tuesday.

Tuesday’s meeting was the last for Councilman Chris Talbot and Highway Superintendent Peter Harris. Both elected officials announced their retirement earlier this year and were recognized with a plaque for their service prior to the regular session.

“I have probably worked with Pete more than anyone in Town government the past 23 years I’ve been here and I have to say it’s been an honor,” Supervisor Scott Russell said. ”In all honesty Pete [your retirement] might be better for you and your family, but it is certainly not better for Southold.”

Mr. Harris, 60, remained the only elected Democrat in town government after former councilman Al Krupski was voted to the Suffolk County Legislature earlier this year, and he shocked his party in May by announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Highway Superintendent Pete Harris was recognized for his decades of service to Southold Town Tuesday.

“I thought this would be easier, but I guess after this many years in the business it’s going to be hard to walk away, even though it’s my choice,” Mr. Harris said Tuesday. “It’s a 24/7 job … I had a great work ethic that was passed on to me from my parents and that I believe I passed on to both my two children. I am going to miss it. I truly love Southold.”

He served 12 years as head of the highway department. Previously, he worked 24 years as the state Department of Transportation’s highway maintenance supervisor responsible for Southold and Shelter Island towns. He started as a laborer, a job he held for three years.

Mr. Harris is being replaced in January by Republican Vincent Orlando, a former town councilman, who takes the oath of office in January.

Councilman Talbot was also honored by his fellow board members Tuesday. Mr. Talbot, a Republican, decided earlier this year not to seek re-election after serving one term on the board.

“Chris, I do want to tell you you’re a better man than me,” Mr. Russell said. “Chris did exactly what he said he was going to do; run for office, step in, make a difference and then leave. You rarely see in politics someone who sticks to his word. His approach to everything was with his uncompromising values — sometimes painful, but that is besides the point — he is a real man of integrity.”

A Southold native, Mr. Talbot championed small business, conservation and working toward a more efficient government.

“It is very, very rewarding to be able to serve your fellow residents,” Mr. Talbot said Tuesday. “I want to thank the town, Supervisor Scott Russell and the other board members for putting up with me.”

Fellow Republican and former Town Trustee Bob Ghosio will fill his seat in January.

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06/27/13 2:00pm
06/27/2013 2:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | No large-scale residential project will ever take place on Plum Island, Supervisor Scott Russell said this week.

The U.S. General Services Administration thinks the best future use of Plum Island, currently a federal animal disease research facility, is to sell it for the development of up to 500 dwellings.

But Southold Supervisor Scott Russell doesn’t see it that way.

“There will not be 500 houses on Plum Island,”  he said this week. “There will not be 5 houses on Plum Island.”

The town is in the process of backing up that statement by crafting new island-specific zoning that would prohibit large-scale residential development should the federal government move ahead with the construction of a $1 billion replacement laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas and sell the 840-acre island as surplus.

Under that scenario, any housing built on the island “would need to be accessory to, and in support of, the research facility and the permitted uses of that site as clearly specified in our proposed zoning. The GSA and any prospective buyer would need to understand that fact.”

The GSA’s recommendation is part of the environmental impact statement on the suggested sale of the island. But that report, the supervisor said, “fails to consider the fact that, ultimately, the decision rests with the Town of Southold under its zoning authority.”

The study outlines three development options. From Southold Town’s and environmentalists’ perspective, the most objectionable would be to sell the land to private investors for the construction of up to 500 homes.

The other two options mentioned in the EIS are for a buyer to convert the island’s animal disease research lab into a private research or business center or to use the land as a nature preserve.

Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said he supports the island’s conservation and plans to introduce a bill to eliminate the requirement in current law that Plum Island be sold as part of an effort to raise funds for a new $1 billion facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

“I join Southold Town and its residents and other stakeholders in strongly opposing the sale of Plum Island,” Mr. Bishop said in a statement. “The final Plum Island environmental impact statement shows that the island’s unique natural and historic resources are ideally suited for adaptive re-use of the current facility for research and preservation of the undeveloped areas, which has already been identified in Southold Town’s proposed zoning code as the community’s preference if the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center is eventually closed.”

The proposed zoning regulations would divide Plum Island into three districts separating the lab areas from a conservation district and a smaller section covering the harbor and ferry facilities.

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02/04/13 2:00pm
02/04/2013 2:00 PM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | The sun rising over Orient Harbor in Orient.

It’s going to take a multi-pronged effort to secure the future of Southold’s drinking water and waterways, but some environmentalists fear the town’s draft plan of attack may be too overwhelming in size and scope to assure public acceptance and participation.

Last week the town’s planning staff unveiled the draft of the water resources section of its new comprehensive plan.
The 33-page document explores water conservation measures and methods of reducing pesticides, pharmaceuticals, petroleum-related pollutants and other hazards to drinking water. It also addresses protecting surface waters and marine habitats.

But the overwhelming number of suggestions for how to do that — there are more than 75 listed in the chapter and several sub-sections to many suggestions — had some in attendance at a public forum Jan. 31 concerned that it was too much information for the public.

Among the suggestions are increasing the non-turf buffer area between properties and wetlands and devoting more open space preservation funds to parcels important for aquifer protection. The plan also suggests the town institute odd-even day watering restrictions during droughts and participate in a Peconic Estuary Program homeowner rebate program for people who want to install rain gardens, gutter improvements and drywells.

Laura Klahre, a town land preservation specialist who helped develop the Peconic Estuary Program’s initial goals, called that “a huge undertaking. There were so many goals and objectives,” she said at the Jan. 31 forum at the Peconic Community Center. The Peconic Estuary Program had 280 goals.

“You need to prioritize… You need to say ‘in year one, we’ll do X, Y and Z,’” she said.

North Fork Environmental Council President Bill Toedter agreed that the chapter needs to be more user friendly.

“People can see rain gardens, but they can’t see what’s underground,” he said. “You’re asking people to change their behavior… You need to give them a basic understanding so they can move forward.”

He suggested that planners take a “USA Today” approach to the chapter, with charts and graphs and more easily digestible snippets of information on concrete steps they can take to improve water quality.

“Let this be a living document,” he said. “Update it every year so people can see what’s changing… How are you selling it to the public to get their buy-in?”

The second part of the chapter, on land resources, is due out in upcoming weeks.

01/23/13 6:50am
01/23/2013 6:50 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Greenport Village Board at a meeting last January.

The long-pending annexation saga between Greenport Village, Southold Town and the Kontokosta family may finally be over.

After almost a decade of legal wrangling between the village and town over a proposed condominium complex just outside the village boundaries, on Jan. 17 the State Supreme Court approved Greenport’s request to end its participation in the case, which essentially kills it.

The Kontokostas had proposed moving the town/village boundary line to include their 17 acres on the south side of Route 48 near San Simeon by the Sound into the village, a move needed for the family to pursue the Northwind Village 128-unit condominium complex.

The plans called for some of the units to be set aside for “workforce housing,” but the village does not have an affordable housing program limiting sales prices.

Former Greenport Mayor David Kapell initiated the lawsuit against Southold in 2005 after the town said no to the annexation. Changing the bounday lines would allow a connection to village sewers and put the land under far less restrictive village zoning, both required for the high density proposed. The Kontokosta family covered the village’s legal bills.

The current Greenport Village Board voted unanimously last January to withdraw the lawsuit. Village officials argued it would cost the village more in services for the new development than it would receive in additional tax revenues.

Attempts to reach Mayor David Nyce and the Kontokosta’s development company, the KACE Group, were not immediately successful.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell welcomed the village’s decision to withdraw the suit, saying the town “never had any interest” in moving its boundary lines.

07/06/11 6:43am
07/06/2011 6:43 AM

On the evening of June 30 a handful of Southold residents got their first chance to weigh in on what’s so important about the character of the community they call home.

Town officials took comment on the second chapter of the town’s new comprehensive plan at the town Recreation Center in Peconic.

A second public input session on the chapter is scheduled for Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m. in the town’s Human Resource Center on Pacific Street in Mattituck.

The draft chapter, available on the town’s website and at local libraries, documents the town’s history and how it shaped the landscape of the town today.

Principal planner Mark Terry told the half-dozen members of the public and several town employees in attendance that the goal expressed in the chapter is to preserve the scenic, cultural and natural heritage of Southold.

“The bucolic quality of the town is anchored by the scenic quality, culture and history of the built environment, landscapes and waterscapes. The importance of preserving these qualities is paramount in maintaining the quality of life within the town,” Town planners wrote in an introduction to the chapter, drafted by Mr. Terry and Planning Board member Don Wilcenski.

The chapter lists the town’s scenic quality, including the vistas along the state-designated scenic byways of Routes 25 and 48, as one of Southold’s most important economic and social assets. Planners would like to hold community meetings to identify and prioritize more scenic resources by 2013, and then develop plans to manage those resources.

The chapter calls for more stringent State Environmental Quality Review of incompatible structures proposed in scenic byways, a 20 percent reduction in hardened shoreline structures and consideration of implementing Suffolk County guidelines for greenhouses on land where the development rights have been sold.

The chapter also calls for more town involvement in the New York State Department of Transportation’s Adopt-a-Road program and coordination with the county in planting the medians of Route 48 with wildflowers.

The town’s 1,500 regionally important historic buildings are also highlighted in the chapter, which urges that the town give its Historic Preservation Commission more authority to prevent demolition of historic buildings and to delineate new historic districts. It also includes an in-depth assessment of what can be done to strengthen the character of each of the hamlet centers, from tying together the two shopping districts in Mattituck to traffic-calming measures in Cutchogue to ensure that the Southold, East Marion and Orient post offices remain in the hamlet centers.

Members of the public had a range of comments. Nick Deegan, who is running for Town Board on the Democratic ticket, said he believes the town should look into providing incentives for green building practices similar to those in the town of Babylon.

Town Renewable and Alternative Energy Committee chairman Frank Wills suggested that the draft do more to address zoning changes that can protect scenic views.

One group of attendees, who met in a small break-out group with Southold Planning Director Heather Lanza, said that they weren’t sure why the comprehensive planning process was taking so long.

“We wanted to do it once and do it right,” said Mr. Wilcenski as to why the plan, first expected to be finished this year, will now likely not be completed until 2013. “We need to think 20 years ahead. Twenty years ago, no one thought vineyards would be a big part of the North Fork.”

A complete draft of the chapter is available online.

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06/24/11 3:00pm
06/24/2011 3:00 PM

Thursday’s heavy rainfall has led to the temporary closure of shellfishing spots in Southold Town beginning today and continuing through next Thursday, according to the State DEC.

All of Hallock Bay and all Southold Town waters between Cleeves Point and Orient Point, including Dam Pond, Oyster Pond and Marion Lake, will be closed to shellfishing for the next week.

“This precautionary action was taken to protect public health following the exceptionally heavy rainfall event that is currently affecting Long Island,” reads a DEC press release.

Rainfall was measured in excess of three inches in the affected areas, according to the DEC. The extraordinary volume of stormwater runoff entering the creeks, coves, and bays may cause shellfish in the affected areas to be hazardous for use as food.

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06/21/11 11:55am
06/21/2011 11:55 AM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Town Supervisor Scott Russell and the Southold Town Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. today for their regular meeting.

The Southold Town Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. tonight for its regular meeting.

Click below to read the complete agenda:

June 21 Southold Town Board agenda