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Board discusses Irrigation Committee’s recomendations

COURTESY PHOTO | The Town Board went down a check list of recommendations from the Irrigation Committee at its work session Tuesday.
COURTESY PHOTO | The Town Board went down a check list of recommendations from the Irrigation Committee at its work session Tuesday.

The Town Board reviewed the Irrigation Committee’s final report, a product of 11 months worth of work, at Tuesday’s work session.

Councilman Paul Shepherd, who had been the board’s liaison to the committee, and Councilman Peter Reich have been tasked with gathering information to make recommendations of alterations or additions to the town code.

Town Attorney Laury Dowd drafted a checklist of recommendations the committee had suggested to the board, to help members come to a consensus ranging on issues from enforcement of new regulations to definition of terms.

The board agreed to the recommendation that the 109 legal inground irrigation systems be allowed to continue to operate if they are upgraded.

Mr. Reich noted that “legal” was the operative word and questioned what should be done to homeowners operating nonregistered systems. The consensus was that they should be made to comply with upgrades and new regulations.

All systems must be made to comply with the committee’s recommendation that rain sensing equipment be installed to shut systems during rainfalls along with clocks that control times of watering. Also battery backups in case of power failures, water meters and other devices must be installed.

The board turned to what constitutes a “licensed” contractor who will install and upgrade systems.

Irrigation Committee member Walter Richards told the board “there is no specific license we are aware of to install irrigation systems.”

Mr. Reich said defining what a “licensed” contractor meant was murky, noting that, for example, the Suffolk County contractor’s license “is a joke” with the test having nothing to do with construction “just customer relations.”

Mr. Shepherd said that there must be some kind of verification process for upgrades.

Ms. Dowd moved on to ask the board if a system is upgraded, how often should it be inspected, and the consensus of the board was that it should be annually. An annual user fee should be created to cover administrative costs, Mr. Reich suggested, and also for inspections if violations have been reported.

One of them most contentious issues, dividing the Island into zones when it comes to irrigation, was discussed with no consensus reached.

“I don’t care for the idea of dividing into zones,” Councilwoman Chris Lewis said, adding that she could see the idea spawning “endless arguments.”

Mr. Reich agreed, saying he disliked dividing the Island for any reason. The board was faced with a dilemma, he added: “If we have a one size fits all law we’re going be too restrictive to people in the center of the Island who don’t have a water problem and not protective of people in the peninsulas, the very sensitive areas.”

Times to water and special exemptions to new regulations was discussed, with Mr. Richards, who has a landscaping business, noting that new seedlings should be allowed to be watered in daylight hours so they can thrive.

The code calls for irrigation exemptions for golf courses, which the board wants to keep, but exemptions for nurseries again was a matter of definition.

Mr. Richards said that the word “nursery” in the town code defines a place where vegetative material is produced, but now there are many “garden centers,” which don’t grow anything, but are called nurseries.

The committee’s recommendation that the town’s test wells, which report water levels, should also be tested for chloride levels and the board unanimously agreed.

Further discussion will be scheduled before a public hearing on new regulations are voted on.
In other business:

• Department of Public Works commissioner Jay Card Jr. told the board that the damaged slide at the so-called “Tot Lot,” a park on School Street for small children, has been removed and replaced with help from the Lions Club and a committee of mothers who are fundraising to upgrade the playground.
“The park is back in action,” Mr. Card said.

• Supervisor Dougherty said that an agreement has been reached with Dr. Anthonette Desire on a long-term lease at the town’s Medical Center. Dr. Desire had been operating on a lease signed in June and ending September 30. The new lease will be for two years beginning October 1 for $800 a month plus utilities.