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Board scraps proposed law on septic systems and wells

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO  The Town Board at its work session Tuesday. From left, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Deputy Supervisor Chris Lewis, Councilman Peter Reich and Councilman Ed Brown. Supervisor Jim Dougherty was absent.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The Town Board at its work session Tuesday. From left, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Deputy Supervisor Chris Lewis, Councilman Peter Reich and Councilman Ed Brown. Supervisor Jim Dougherty was absent.

Near the beginning of Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Councilman Paul Shepherd said it was going to be “one of those days,” meaning he would be questioning agenda items in his usual forceful way.

He succeeded in convincing his colleagues to scuttle a draft for a law requiring residents to notify the Building Department of changes to existing well and septic systems or construction of new ones, in addition to obtaining a building permit for the work.

The advantage to the proposed legislation, said Deputy Supervisor Chris Lewis, who ran the meeting in Supervisor Jim Dougherty’s absence, is if there were a health crisis due to tainted water, it would be important to locate septic systems that might have malfunctioned.

“I’m not opposed to getting information in general,” Mr. Shepherd said. “Except stuff we’re going to put in a box somewhere and someone’s going to sit around and dream up some use for it.”

His concern was with the permitting process, which would, he said, inevitably end up with penalties and fines imposed on residents. The purpose of the draft law was obscure, he said, quoting its legislative intent, which is to get information to improve water quality on the Island.

“Connect the dots for me,” Mr. Shepherd said. “Show me how this [law] actually does that.”

His colleagues agreed to scrap the proposed law.

Mr. Shepherd also complained when a bookkeeping contract was discussed that too often board members were faced with rushed deadlines. The issue was to engage ADP, an accounting service that presently does the town’s payroll, to do additional work tracking compliance with the Affordable Care Act for 74 employees, as well as noting employee’s vacations and scheduling.

The cost is $5.20 for each employee per month plus a one-time implantation fee of $1, 875. Signing up for the service is open until June 19.

Mr. Shepherd said he had no problem with the numbers, but that “this seems to be a recurring theme that we have a deadline date about a week from the time we get the thing dropped on our table, whether it’s a grant or whatever else it is. It’s like OK, we’ve got to get this done by tomorrow.”

Ms. Dowd noted that it wasn’t tomorrow, but 10 days away.

Ms. Lewis, noting that the Affordable Care Act was a complex directive for municipalities, said the price was reasonable and it would take the burden of complying off already hard-working town employees.

“I hope everyone is making good use of the time we’re saving,” Mr. Shepherd said.

The board looked at businesses that sell goods and service out of vehicles, spurred by a bus that was recently giving massages and manicures parked at Crescent Beach. The board decided to look into restricting the size of commercial vehicles allowed setting up on town property.

Councilman Peter Reich notified the board of a crisis in-the-making occurring at Reel Point. He, along with Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr., representatives from the Peconic Land Trust and an engineering firm, were at the site Tuesday morning and noticed “scouring,” or severe erosion from waves that removes rocks and sand.

“Out at the point, “Mr. Reich said, “we were standing where two years ago it was 20 feet deep. We were standing on sand.”

He suggested contracting the engineer to do computer models of the situation and solutions to keep the point from vanishing.

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