At a public hearing Friday on proposed legislation to set up a site plan review process for commercial businesses, only one resident questioned the Town Board on proceeding. But it was enough for the board to leave the hearing open for written comments only for three weeks as the board weighs its decision.
Craig Wood, who is a town assessor, told the board members that they “should remember how difficult it is to do business on Shelter Island.” Mr. Wood said it was counter productive for “bureaucracy to get in the way” of business innovation here.
He praised the board for working diligently on the new law, but noted was unnecessary and could stifle growth that the Island needs for employment.
During the meeting and again afterwards, Mr. Wood said he was disappointed that no member of the business community had been present at the public hearing.
The proposed legislation would require all commercial property owners to formally submit plans for development. Shelter Island is the only municipality on the East End lacking site plan review. The review process would exclude the Village of Dering Harbor.
If approved, site plan review would be conducted by the Planning Board for final Town Board approval. It would include requirements by owners to outline the uses of the property and detailed descriptions of everything from parking, trash, signage and more.
The purpose of the site plan review legislation, stated in a draft of the legislation prepared by Town Attorney Laury Dowd, is to “mitigate the environmental impacts of new development on the land, and water resources” and “prevent overcrowding of land or buildings.”
The issue came to a head in March 2016 when Supervisor Jim Dougherty said at a work session that “Route 114, north and south of the Center, is becoming an eyesore and maybe we have to be a little more careful in our review of proposed projects. We want to be respectful of people, but we want to meet our responsibilities.”
Two properties in particular caught the board’s attention. One was a proposed storage facility at 18 North Ferry Road, which was under construction by John Sieni. The town issued a building permit on February 11 and work began, but a stop work order was issued since, according to the Building Department, the original permit “was issued in error” because the development “constitutes expansion of a pre-existing, non-conforming use.”
Mr. Wood, at Friday’s meeting, said Mr. Sieni had worked with the Planning Department and the board and “got to a place” where the community accepted his plans without site plan review.
The other property in question and spurred the drafting of legislation is 13 North Ferry Road just down the street from Mr. Sieni’s facility. Owned by Dan Calabro, it’s leased to Marcello Masonry. The board had discussed this site several times last year because of what board members and neighbors said was its unsightly appearance.
New landscaping has appeared to screen the property from the street and a new curb cut and driveway has been installed.
Friday Mr. Wood said the new legislation “will take time and money from people who want to do new things on a property that they didn’t have to do before.”
The board closed the public hearing, but will accept correspondence either for or against site plan review, should be addressed to: Town Clerk, P.O. Box 970, Shelter Island NY 11964, or, [email protected]