A larger than usual crowd showed up again for the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees in Dering Harbor on Saturday, September 15.
More than a dozen residents gathered in Village Hall to hear the board’s recommendations on road safety, an initial discussion of zoning setbacks for recreational uses and the announcement of the mayor’s proposed appointments for the coming year.
Mayor Tim Hogue followed up on last month’s report of the Road Safety Committee. In Committee Chair Linda Adams absence, he made the following suggestions:
• On the topic of improving the effectiveness of speed bumps on Shore Road, the mayor recommended first trying out a single speed bump marketed as “The Big Bump.” “We can get one right away, see if we like it,” the mayor said, and then be in a position to install them along the length of the roadway next season.
He also proposed ordering, on a trial basis, red and white traffic posts to place at either end of each bump, which would discourage drivers from trying to drive around it.
In answer to a question from the audience about restricting truck traffic on Shore Road, Village Attorney Joe Prokop said that would probably be possible if alternative access to residences on Shore Road were available.
• Speed limits: Mr. Hogue said he had consulted with Mr. Prokop and the Shelter Island Police Department about setting a uniform speed limit of 25 mph or lower. To lower the limit to 20 mph throughout the village, which was suggested at the August meeting, would be very difficult, Mr. Prokop said; state law only permits 20 mph limits in school zones and a few other exceptions. It was noted that the speed limit on Shore Road is already posted at 20 mph.
• Stop signs: The proposal to install a stop sign at Dinah Rock Road got mixed reviews at the August meeting and that was the reaction on Saturday as well. Some residents felt the corner was dangerous, a blind curve; others that installing stop signage was a “suburbanization” of the village and not in keeping with the village’s aesthetic. Mr. Hogue agreed to table the recommendation for the time being.
• Radar speed signs: At the last meeting, Clora Kelly had suggested placing a small, relatively unobtrusive radar speed sign on Shore Road during the summer. She and Helge Skibeli offered to donate the cost of the sign for the village to use on a trial basis. The offer was accepted with thanks by the mayor and the board.
• Dering Lane: Mr. Hogue recommended going ahead with the suggestion to re-landscape the Dering Lane island to reduce speeding down the road onto Shore Road. An oak tree was suggested, replacing the one that was there originally.
• Manhanset Road: The vegetation along Manhanset Road by the curve leading into the village will be cut back to improve visibility.
Mr. Hogue added that he had followed the committee’s recommendation and sent out a reminder to all residents regarding the restrictions on corner hedge heights to improve driver visibility.
A dozen or so residents, including incumbents, had expressed an interest in filling current vacancies on the Architectural Review, Planning and Zoning boards.
Applicants were asked to provide resumes and all but two did so. The board was requested to make them available for public review in the Village Hall office but five applicants declined to publicize their personal information, Mr. Hogue said. The mayor emphasized that this did not affect the trustees’ review of the applications one way or another.
The board unanimously approved the mayor’s recommendations as follows: Jason Weisenfeld was appointed to a five-year term on the Planning Board to replace Richard Smith, whose term has expired. Current member Marian Brownlie was appointed to replace John Colby as chair. Mr. Colby will continue to fill out his term as a board member.
Mr. Colby was reappointed as a member of the Architectural Review Board for a three-year term. ARB member Marianne Chort chose not to serve out the remainder of her term in order to make way for a new appointment and Suzannah Rose was named as her replacement.
Mr. Hogue said the board had failed to reach consensus about filling the position of the chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, left vacant by the late Bridg Hunt, and will continue its discussion. “I hope to have an announcement by the next meeting,” the mayor said.
Mr. Hogue said the zoning code on setbacks was the second of three priorities he had set for discussion during the 2012-2013 year, following concerns about road safety.
The village code calls for a 75-foot setback from the property line for swimming pools and tennis courts. This provision was adopted, the mayor said, because some pools located on small lots with shorter setbacks tended to be noisy and disruptive. These were grandfathered, however, leaving newer residents with the more restrictive regulations. Mr. Hogue recommended looking at the code again to determine if the setback was fair and justified or not. He asked Mr. Colby to do some research about this so the board can decide if it wants to reconsider the regulation.
Next on the mayor’s agenda, he said, was the sometimes contentious topic of accessory housing — and the zoning regulation against expanding living space to a garage or pool house, for example.
FLOODING & DRAINAGE
Karen Kelsey had raised the issue at the last meeting about a storm drain located in the middle of her driveway that isn’t functioning properly and causes flooding every time it rains. Jeff Starzee, a Shelter Island Highway Department employee, who was in the audience to speak about another agenda item, explained that silt can build up over time and it may be necessary to bring in equipment to remove the material. Mr. Hogue said he would call Highway Superintendent Jay Card for further advice.
Mr. Starzee was asked to comment on the perennial problem of flooding at Yoco and Shore roads. Installing a dry well at the location had been considered, he said, but a test drill resulted in significant saltwater intrusion. Although the recently repaved road looks attractive, when asked if there was still a problem with flooding, Mr. Starzee said “It’s the same, if not worse.” He recommended installing catch basins at the top of the roadway, targeting the fall or spring to do the work when there isn’t as much traffic. Mr. Hogue agreed to follow up on this advice by next spring or earlier.
• Ressler/Baker dispute: Kirk Ressler’s issue with the Bakers parking on village roads and village property was raised again in an email to the board, the mayor reported. Mr. Hogue said he had spoken to Ms. Baker about parking on village roads and that the problem appears to have been resolved. The Bakers’ driveway or “apron” in front of the garage, however, is village property and Mr. Ressler contends that her parking there full-time is noisy and annoying. He requested again that the village enforce its code and require that Ms. Baker park on her own property.
Mr. Prokop commented that there were a number of cases in the village where a portion of a driveway was actually on village property and he was concerned about focusing on one property when the problem could have ramifications for other property owners as well.
The board has come up with a number of excuses for not enforcing its code, Mr. Ressler said, and Mr. Prokop’s argument also was “not germane” because parking on the Baker driveway was full-time, not a temporary measure.
Mr. Hogue said that, in the meantime, Ms. Baker had responded by sending him photos of parking problems on Mr. Ressler’s property, but that he would talk to her again to see if she could create a new “apron” rather than park on the existing driveway.
• ARB hearing: The board heard from Mr. Starzee on behalf of Kevin Lynyak’s application for a living fence along his Shore Road property. The board agreed unanimously to forward the application on to the ARB for its action.
• Water: Mr. Hogue said that the village’s application for a replacement well was still awaiting review by the county Department of Health Services. Cuts in department personnel have delayed the process, he said. There was no immediate cause for concern, he added — the village storage tank holds 100,000 gallons of water and a Shelter Island Fire Department generator is available in the event more water needs to be pumped.
• Board agenda: In response to resident requests, Mr. Hogue said he would post the board’s monthly agenda in the office on the Thursday prior to Saturday’s meeting — subject to last minute changes.
• Board meeting schedule: The mayor said in the future the board would be more sensitive to scheduling meetings around holidays. September’s meeting was in conflict with some residents’ travel plans for Rosh Hashanah.
The next meeting of the board is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 20 in Village Hall.