The Shelter Island Town Board acted Friday to change the rules for use of the town’s only public dock slips.
Islanders waiting for a slip at Congdon Dock for years, sometimes decades, have complained that several of the 36 slips sat empty last summer while the waiting list for them grew to over 170 people.
In response, board members and the Waterways Management Advisory Committee developed proposed rules for using the slips early last fall. After a request from Islander Chuck Kraus, the board revisited the issue several weeks ago.
The rules are intended to increase slip availability by establishing a summer subletting system as well as a revocation process for violations of the rules.
Slip permits will be renewed on April 1 of each year beginning in 2012 and will require proof of residency. Slip-holders who will not be using a slip from July 1 to September 30 must notify the Town Clerk, who will make the slip available for the season to the next person on the waiting list. While subletting, that wait-listed dock user will remain eligible for a slip in his or her own name, should one become available.
Off-season sublets will continue to be available. The Town Board will establish fees for the sublets. The annual fee for a permit to keep a boat at a Congdon Dock slip was raised recently from $150 to $250. The board approved the new rules 3-0-1. Glenn Waddington, who said he is approaching the top of the Congdon Dock waiting list, abstained. Chris Lewis was absent.
PUBLIC INPUT INCORPORATED IN LAW
The vote followed a public hearing on the new rules. Vincent Novak asked, if once approved, whether the town would consider expanding the Congdon Creek dock or adding dockage someplace else.
“It is kind of ludicrous for people to be waiting 20 to 30 years for a slip,” he said.
“The purpose in part is to weed out the deadwood” from the waiting list, Peter Reich said.
“We hope it will start moving faster, but how much faster? We have to wait and see.”
Because some of the law will transition in over the course of the year, Chuck Kraus asked if high season subletting would begin this summer.
“That’s the plan,” Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty said.
Off-season sublets will continue as practiced for years, with the slip holder arranging any sublets from September to June.
Mr. Novak responded that “if you don’t know someone” in a slip, an off-season sublet won’t be available.
Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar said that anyone interested in the availability of a winter sublet could contact her office to make arrangements with a slip holder.
Heather Reylek asked, “Has anyone addressed the liability issue?” Slip- holders use their own pulleys and other hardware around their slips. if something happens to a sublessee’s boat, she asked, “who is liable?”
A boat owner would decide what equipment to use. It’s the slip-holders’ choice to sublet, “so it’s their responsibility,” Town Attorney Laury Dowd said.
Ms. Reylek also encouraged the board to stick with a July 1 high season start date, as originally proposed, not the June 15 date in the most recent version of the law.
“Pushing it back a couple of weeks might be good,” Ed Brown said.
Mr. Kraus commented that if he were going to sublet for the high season, “I’d rather get in there as soon as I can.”
Jim Dougherty agreed with Mr. Brown and eventually, Mr. Reich said, “July 1 is better than nothing.” The law was adopted with the July 1 date.
The new rules will be enforced by town Bay Constables, who will keep a log of dock use. Two violations of the law will result in a revocation of the permit.
When it came time to vote, Mr. Waddington abstained, citing his position on the Congdon Dock waiting list. “All of a sudden, I’ve advanced because two friends I’ve known my whole life have passed away. That’s not how we want to see movement for this dock.” Hopefully the new rules will result in “some natural movement,” he added.
TOWN BOARD ACTIONS AT A GLANCE
During the April 8 meeting, the Town Board also took the following actions:
• Held a public hearing on a wetlands permit needed to protect the shoreline of a Montclair Avenue property on Menantic Creek. The plan on the Homan property is to install coir logs, sand fill and natural vegetation to create a soft shoreline protection buffer as opposed to bulkheading, referred to as shoreline armoring or hardening. Homan representative William Bowman explained the project and fielded questions about the longevity of coir logs and installation standards. He promised to provide more details before the board votes on the permit.
• Appointed Ian MacDonald to serve on the Planning Board through 2014.
• Extended the lease of Goat Hill to the Shelter Island Country Club through 2017.
• Set a public hearing on the purchase of development rights to 57 acres of Sylvester Manor land. If approved, the rights will be purchased jointly with Suffolk County paying 70 percent of the $4.7 million cost.
• Accepted a bid on corn for 4-posters from Talmage Farms, the sole bidder.
• Approved permits for two moorings, one in Shelter Island Sound and one in Coecles Harbor. The board held over a hearing on a mooring for James Keller of Cartwright Road; because Councilmen Reich and Brown recused themselves, there was not a quorum to act on the permit.
• Issued an outdoor assembly permit for the Suffolk Bike Riders Bike-Boat-Bike event on June 5.