House will be moved to Mashomack Preserve

The Nature Conservancy has applied to the Town Board for a wetlands permit so it can move a house by barge across Smith Cove and over the beach to the main campus of the Mashomack Preserve for use as an outbuilding.

The Town Board briefly discussed the application at its work session on Tuesday, informally agreeing to vote at this Friday’s regular meeting to set a hearing on the proposal.

The town’s Building Permit Examiner Mary Wilson commented from the audience that the application was simple and did not involve building anything in the vegetative and regulated areas that extend 75 and 100 feet from wetlands, respectively. She said the Conservancy had filed an application for a county health department permit for the septic system that will serve the structure at its new site but that wasn’t a wetlands issue or a factor in the house-moving process.

Town Councilman Peter Reich said it was the first wetlands application to come before the board that did not call for a waiver of the limits on construction in the regulated area. “It really only involves the hours” that the house will be hauled over the beach and into the preserve, he added.

Mashomack Preserve Director Mike Laspia, who two weeks ago attended the work session to outline the proposal, also was on hand for this week’s discussion.

He declined to comment further on the project this week until some details  fall into place.

Mr. Laspia said at the work session two weeks ago that the house, located near South Ferry, was to be donated to the Nature Conservancy and would be put on a barge at the ferry company’s eastern ferry slip.

COUNTRY CLUB SALE

Also at Tuesday’s work session, Supervisor Jim Dougherty announced that the membership of the Gardiner’s Bay Country Club had voted overwhelmingly on Saturday, October 6, in favor of buying the property on which the club is located.

He mentioned the vote because a sale, at a price he said would be close to $16 million, would bring in more than $300,000 in revenues to the town’s 2-percent or Community Preservation Fund. The fund is supported by a 2-percent tax on real estate, paid by the buyer to support open space purchases.

Mr. Dougherty said there was “a lot of subtle financing to be done” before a sale could take place; one idea, he said, was requiring the 130 to 140 members to buy bonds to finance the purchase.

Club officials willing to discuss the sale could not be reached by press time. The owner of the property is listed under the name Neroni, according to the town Assessors Office, which could not immediately confirm who the principals of the partnership are.

On another front, the board informally agreed to vote on Friday to authorize a bond anticipation note for $500,000 to help cover the town’s share of the cost of buying the development rights on a 55-acre parcel at Sylvester Manor. A closing is expected soon on the $4.682 million deal, of which the town’s 30-percent share will be $1.404 million. The county will pay the balance.

Mr. Dougherty reported last month there was a balance of about $1.1 million in the 2-Percent Community Preservation Fund. The bond anticipation note, to be paid off through future 2-percent revenues, would cover the shortfall.

BUDGET REVIEW

After the work session, board members resumed their ongoing budget discussions, going over errors and omissions in the tentative 2013 budget. One of several mistakes discussed Tuesday was the inclusion of $257,000 in funds for a new bathroom at Louis Beach in a column for 2012 budgeted expenses when the project is planned for 2013. Councilman Reich made the point that it was part of a $300,000 error that followed from the use of a new program this year that generates the template for the budget document. Also, Councilman Ed Brown said the board was also waiting for missing “percentages” because “it is tough to cut or add if you don’t know where you’re at.”

A column in the tentative budget shows year-to-year changes as a percentage but a value is missing on many lines.

Supervisor Dougherty noted that the town had taken on two major new expenses during 2012 — the acquisition of the former Red Cross ambulance squad and the launch of a Length of Service Award Program for qualified ambulance volunteers — that must be included in the budget. “Those are two big numbers and it’s going to get real tough,” he said.

Department heads have been meeting with the board as it goes over the spending plan. As the review process continues, the board will fill in missing numbers and begin to see what cuts might be necessary to limit the need for any tax increase. The board is required by state law to conduct a public hearing on a preliminary budget by November 8 and adopt a final budget by November 20.

Highway Superintendent Jay Card was scheduled to meet with the board to review his budget — a major part of town spending, as is the police department — today, Thursday, October 11.

OTHER BUSINESS

Also on Tuesday, the Town Board:

• Heard Councilman Ed Brown report that, because the board has been hearing that complaints of illegal beach driving are up at Reel Point, he checked with police and found that in 2011 there were four complaints called in and four tickets issued and in 2012 there have been nine calls and two tickets issued so far.

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