Rules to allow paved driveways near shore go back to committee

New questions on Friday stalled a proposal to allow paved driveways in the Island’s shoreline areas if they have professionally engineered recharge systems to contain all runoff. Instead of voting on the proposal, as was listed on the agenda of the September 30 Town Board meeting, the Town Board agreed to let the town’s Water Advisory Committee review it again and make new recommendations.

John Hallman, chairman of the town’s Water Advisory Committee, told the Town Board at a hearing on the proposal Friday that the WAC had problems with some of the language of the proposed amendment, which would repeal the town code’s current ban on permeable driveways in the Near Shore Overlay District.

He asked, for example, where the word “dirt” as a covering for double-washed crushed stone permeable driveways had come from in the definitions section of the proposal, which also modifies the rules for using permeable materials.

“Dirt will get bound up” and form a virtually impermeable layer, he said, defeating the purpose of a permeable driveway material, which is to allow rainwater to percolate into the soil and eventually into the aquifer instead of running off into nearby bays and creeks. “I don’t know where that came from,” said Mr. Hallman of the word.

He said the proposal needed more details and clarifications, such as specifications for how deep a layer of double-washed stone must be as an allowable permeable driveway surface and what kind of surface must be used beneath it.

“We’re talking about the water for the next 100 years,” Mr. Hallman said of the sole-source aquifer on which the Island relies, the protection of which is the goal of the Near Shore rules.

Local architect Ian McDonald and consulting engineer Matt Sherman initially proposed the paving option, as well as a change in the allowable materials for permeable driveways, because conventional gravel driveways — which current law requires in the Near Shore zone — eventually create a layer of hard-packed silt beneath their surfaces that is virtually impermeable, they said.

Supporting them, Shelter Island Sand & Gravel owner Peder Larsen said at a previous Town Board meeting that the proposed rules would allow people to actually prevent runoff and recharge the aquifer “instead of pretending” they were doing so.

A resident who was not identified at the meeting argued Friday that the amendment would make clear that paving stones separated by grass should be allowed as an ideal permeable surface for driveways. He also complained that the regulations could dramatically raise the cost of building a driveway because of engineering and design fees.

Mr. McDonald, who also is a Planning Board member, challenged that suggestion about pavers. He said that driveways with pavers needed irrigation to keep the grass between them from drying out in summer — a strain on the aquifer that the Near Shore rules are intended to prevent.

“It’s a loosening of the law but it’s more environmentally friendly,” commented Planning Board member Emory Breiner at the hearing, who sat in the audience with Mr. McDonald,.

There was also debate on the proposed amendment’s language requiring conformance to DEC and county requirements for drywell installations, as well as a requirement that residents apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals to approve alternative materials and designs for permeable driveways. Mr. Hallman asked the Town Board, “Shouldn’t that be your job?”

“It should, yeah,” said Supervisor Jim Dougherty. “I’ve made that argument.”

“So have I, actually,” said Councilman Glenn Waddington, who is challenging Mr. Dougherty in the supervisor’s race.

The Water Advisory Committee was to be meet on Monday, October 3 to review the proposal. Mr. McDonald complained that the proposal had already been through the town’s committee review process.

“It sounds like this law may not be ready for prime time,” Mr. Dougherty commented. He said the language of the proposal was “getting awfully busy, in my opinion.” He said it would be revised and rescheduled for another hearing.

“How many times does it have to go back to committee? That’s what I ask,” Mr. McDonald said.


The board voted 5-0 to authorize the supervisor to sign contracts and enter into agreements with the American Red Cross for the town to take possession of the all-volunteer Red Cross ambulance squad that has been serving the Island since 1931.

There was no new discussion on Friday of the takeover by the town, which was announced in September. Mr. Doughtery has said the national Red Cross wants to focus on disasters and get out of the business of running an ambulance squad and the squad’s board members approached the town to take it over.

A total of $59,350 has been budgeted for the new town ambulance department in Supervisor Dougherty’s preliminary town budget for 2012, submitted on September 30 to the Town Clerk’s office. It does not include some costs that are covered in other sections of the budget, such as liability insurance.

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Mr. Dougherty said the insurance bill for the new department will be $10,000) and its budget in 2012 about $70,000.

The ambulance has always been supported entirely by private donations. Mr. Dougherty has said he hoped a non-profit foundation could be set up to continue to seek donations to reduce the cost of the new department to town taxpayers.


The board agreed in another 5-0 vote to clear the way for a state registry for all recreational saltwater anglers, even those Long Island towns including Shelter Island that won a lawsuit overturning a state requirement that anglers obtain a state fishing license for a fee. The several towns here, most on the East End, argued they hold sole jurisdiction over fishing in local waters on the basis of colonial patents.

The vote on Friday was to authorize the supervisor to sign a stipulation of settlement with the state, which set up the registry program after repealing its licensing requirement because of the towns’ lawsuit.

As Councilman Glenn Waddington and Town Attorney Laury Dowd have explained it, states must collect information about inshore fishing  under the terms of the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, originally enacted in 1976 and amended in 1996 and 2006. The state imposed its initial licensing requirement to meet the terms of the act; now that the licensing law has been rescinded, it has set up the registry and promised not to charge a registration fee for two years.

Anglers in coastal states that do not set up a registration process must register online with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a fee.

At Friday’s meeting, Mr. Waddington — who has been the board’s liaison on this issue — said it was “advantageous” for the town to sign the stipulation because fishermen will be able to register for free. He added that “in two years they might come back and turn this into a license. We just have to keep really vigilant.”


Also on the Friday, the board:

• Set a public hearing on a proposed management plan for the town’s Gardiners Creek preserve that calls for once-a-year mowing to maintain the meadow there, with an exemption for the Glorian Dorsey family — who sold the 4-acre property across the creek from Sylvester Manor to the town in 2009 for preservation — to mow a path across the property to the twin pillars that mark the family’s entrance on Route 114. The public entrace will be off Quail Hedge Lane. No improvements to the property are planned.

• Proclaimed the week of October 9-15 Fire Prevention Week.
• Approved an assembly permit for Sylvester Manor’s “Plant & Sing” three-day music, food and arts festival that begins on Friday.
• Consented to the role of Town Justice Helen Rosemblum as an unpaid justice serving on the East End Regional Intervention Court, along with Allen Smith from Riverhead and Deborah Kooperstein from Southampton.

It is a drug treatment court held in the Riverhead and Southampton Town courtrooms that “uses an interdisciplinary team approach in helping substance-abusing defendants with drug-related charges develop healthy drug-free and crime-free lifestyles,” according to a Suffolk County government website.