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WMAC knotted on vote for dock application

BEVRLEA WALZ PHOTO |Councilman Peter Reich, liaison to the WMAC,  reported that the DEC had rejected a Shell Beach area resident’s application because it lacked town approval.
BEVRLEA WALZ PHOTO | Councilman Peter Reich, liaison to the WMAC, reported that the DEC had rejected a Shell Beach area resident’s application because it lacked town approval.

How long is too long for a dock?

And if it hugs the land, running parallel instead of jutting out in a perpendicular direction from the beach, does that mitigate its length?

The question was one the Waterways Management Advisory Council struggled Monday night without a resolution.

The vote on the application from Samuel and Karen Seymour of 99 West Neck Road to extend their dock has been bouncing back and forth between the WMAC and the Town Board. The WMAC refused to make a recommendation to the Town Board last month because members considered the Seymours’ application incomplete,

The Town Board went ahead with a public hearing, but still wanted the advice of the WMAC before acting on the application.

What they got Monday night was a 3-3 split vote, with one absent member and a second member phoning in from an undisclosed venue to cast a vote in favor of allowing the dock, although his vote was illegal.

The New York State Open Meetings Law allows a committee member to cast a ballot either in person or by a service such as Skype with a video component so the public can see who is casting that vote. Also, when a person using such a service, it must be pre-advertised so anyone in the area where the person is participating can go to that venue to observe.

That wasn’t the case for Marc Wein, whose vote in support of the dock should not have been counted.

Regardless, the WMAC action at best leaves the Town Board to reach a final decision on whether the dock should be allowed.

Those who favored it argued it had no effect on navigation while those who opposed it raised various questions, including whether the length of surrounding docks that might be longer than allowed by code should influence decisions on new applications.

It has long been practice for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to act on applications affecting wetlands and waterways before town action. But Councilman Peter Reich, liaison to the WMAC, told members the DEC had just turned down an application from a Shell Beach area resident because it lacked town approval.

Mr. Reich wrote a letter to DEC officials reminding them about the long-standing practice and also noting that since a town approval has a single year shelf life before it expires while the DEC okay lasts for five years, a town permit issued prior to DEC action could well expire before the state took action.

The WMAC will recommend three other applications be passed by the Town Board. In each case, the vote was 5-0 without a vote from Mr. Wein:

• Brad and Margaret Tolkin of 6 Charlie’s Lane who propose to reconfigure and expand the existing boat basin and docks, including a new vinyl bulkhead to replace an existing wooden bulkhead and excavation of approximately 750 cubic yards of soil between the new and old docks; and  redesign of docks, floating docks and ramps.
• Michael McLean of 37 Tuthill Drive to install a mooring in Shanty Bay of Coecles Harbor. He had a mooring but his right to it had expired.
• The William Becker Estate at 39 Nostrand Parkway to beef up an existing bulkhead by adding pilings and a lower wale to give the bulkhead more support.