Around the Island

Village mayor makes ZBA pick, revists road safety

PETER BOODY PHOTO | Dering Harbor Mayor Tim Hogue taps resident  Jason Weisenfeld for the Zoning Board of Appeals.

At least a dozen Dering Harbor residents attended the monthly meeting of the village trustees on Saturday, November 17,in Village Hall to hear an update on water-related issues, road safety measures and committee appointments, among other items.

Mayor Tim Hogue announced that he was recommending, with the trustees’ support, that resident Jason Weisenfeld be asked to serve as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Mr. Weisenfeld had previously been appointed to the Planning Board but agreed to step down from that position to accept the ZBA appointment, a more demanding assignment, the mayor noted.

He will make a new appointment to the Planning  Board by the December meeting, Mr. Hogue said.

The board announcement caused considerable discussion by a number of residents, particularly with regard to having in place a process that would ensure broader representation on the three village boards (Planning, ZBA and Architectural Review). “The village would benefit from a better defined process,” Patrick Parcells said from the audience.

Mr. Hogue said that the process initiated this year would be implemented again as terms expire and vacancies come up. “There are new faces on all three boards now,” Mr. Hogue commented. “We’ve made a commitment to expand” participation.

Some residents indicated that the application procedures put in place, such as individual interviews, were not always followed and wanted some assurance there would be adequate notice of openings and other factors built into the process.

The mayor said that until recently there has not been a pool of applicants to chose from. Village residents, primarily here for the summer, did not necessarily want to get involved in village governance on a regular, year-round basis. The fact that this year at least 10 residents had indicated an interest in a board appointment was a positive development, he said, but at the same time current board members should not feel “defensive” either about their long-term service.

The board took formal action on Mr. Weisenfeld’s appointments and ratified the terms of office of the other four ZBA members.

Mr. Hogue announced he was continuing to look at speed bump alternatives for Shore Road — particularly those that would provide a channel for bicycle traffic. At the very least, he said, the speed bumps currently in use during the summer could be extended the length of the roadway.

Audience members raised other questions about traffic speed monitors, lower speed limits in the village as well as stricter enforcement of speed limits. Following a discussion of the legal issues involved in setting speed limits — for example, state law only permits 20-mph limits under certain circumstances — board members were in favor of recommending a new local law that would establish a 25-mph limit throughout the village. Shore Road is already posted at 20 mph. The law would be subject to a public hearing before the trustees put it to a vote.

On the subject of traffic and safety, the mayor said that county workers had inadvertently extended their painting of double lines on a portion of Manhanset Road within village limits. The county has offered to continue the line painting through the rest of the village.

Board members voted unanimously to accept the offer; it could help with one particularly dangerous curve on that roadway, one trustee said.

A shift in the wind during Hurricane Sandy’s second high tide helped reduce flooding and other damage to the village’s waterfront properties. “We came through relatively unscathed,” Mr. Hogue said. Estimates of the damage and cost of clean-up are being drawn up now and, where appropriate, will be submitted to FEMA for possible reimbursement.

An RFP to dig a second well, recommended by the Suffolk County Department of Health, was sent out last month but has resulted in zero responses, Mr. Hogue said. The storm could be a factor, as well as the fact that more of the eastern end of the North Fork is now on Suffolk County water, which has put at least one major well company out of business. “We will renew our efforts,” he said.

Dry wells are being considered to reduce flooding on Shore and Dering Woods roads. There will be some CHIPS money available to help defray costs, Mr. Hogue said.

The board considered an application submitted by Patrick Parcells to install a gate in an arched opening of his beech hedge located just south of Havens and Manhasset roads. The board’s review and recommendation is the first step before an application goes before the ARB for a decision. [A November article in the Reporter was incorrect in stating that the trustees were forwarding Mr. Parcells’ application to the ARB.]

Mr. Parcells’ proposed double-door gate is 6.5 feet tall and 13 feet wide.

Mr. Hogue read excerpts from an email sent by Mr. Parcell’s neighbor, Ken Walker, who was opposed to the gate because of its size, among other reasons, and the fact that the beech hedge is a village landmark and “needs to be maintained, not altered.”

In response to several audience comments, Mr. Parcells said that the width of the fence would remain the same as the current opening and that the gate posts, while higher, would be placed where the existing posts are now.

Mr. Hogue referred to a number of passages in the conservation easement that was drawn up between Mr. Parcells and the Peconic Land Trust in 2003 when Oriole Farm was subdivided. He was concerned that the proposed gate may not be in compliance with either the spirit or the letter of that document. The mayor said he didn’t see how such a large gate, intended only for pedestrian use, could be built without doing damage to the hedge, which was specifically protected by the conservation easement.

Mr. Parcells suggested asking the Peconic Land Trust to have a look at his plans.

Mr. Hogue said he wanted more time to review the application, to consider if something “smaller in size” and more appropriate in the relation to the hedge, could be designed. The application is not being denied, he said; there will continue to be  discussion.

• Recreational setbacks: John Colby was asked by the board in September to look at whether the village code requirement of 75-foot setbacks for pools and tennis courts was reasonable for smaller properties.
Mr. Colby reported that his preliminary recommendation in October was to consider different setbacks for lots in Residential District A (3 acres) and District B (1 and 1 1/2 acres).
Mr. Hogue said there would be an opportunity for public discussion before any code changes are proposed. Mr. Parcells suggested that residents be given the option to submit their comments in writing as well.
• For the record: Trustee Linda Adams said that she wanted to make it clear she had never argued against making board agenda available to village residents as reported in a recent community email newsletter. She requested a correction be made in the newsletter.
The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held on Saturday, December 15 at 10 a.m. in Village Hall.