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WMAC to Lightcap: Lights out

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Marine contractor Jack Costello will await Town Board action, but isn’t optimistic it will reverse a WMAC decision denying his client’s application.

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Marine contractor Jack Costello will await Town Board action, but isn’t optimistic it will reverse a WMAC decision denying his client’s application.

After prolonged discussions spanning several months, the Waterways Management Advisory Council voted 3-2 to turn down an application from Jeff Lightcap Monday night.

Marine contractor Jack Costello said Mr. Lightcap’s proposal would have cleaned up an area in Coecles Harbor that had previously been a commercial marina. His client had already agreed to several give-backs, including removal of a southern dock and boat lift in return for being allowed to install a free-standing splash board meant to protect his boats from wave action.

WMAC Chairman John Needham and members Alfred Loreto and George Zinger said they understood Mr. Lightcap’s intentions, but were concerned it would set a precedent for others with docks in rough waters who might also request freestanding splash boards.

James Eklund and Marc Wein disagreed.

The Town Board delayed action on the issue Tuesday pending a conversation Supervisor Jim Dougherty said he would have with Mr. Lightcap to determine if there are ways to adjust the proposal.

The WMAC had discussed the application a week ago and asked for more time before rendering a decision.

“John said he needed to sleep on this and it’s been a week, so he should be well rested,” Mr. Costello said about Mr. Needham.

There had been some movement in attitudes of WMAC members that hinted the vote could end up favoring the application, even though it wouldn’t be a unanimous recommendation.

Mr. Eklund argued that others seeking splash boards wouldn’t have anything to trade off such as other docks or a boat lift and that there weren’t similar situations where a previously commercial operation was being transitioned for use by a private homeowner.

But Mr. Zinger wasn’t convinced, noting there was no evidence that the splash board would achieve the wave calming effect the applicant sought.

“I’m not comfortable with this,” he said.

Mr. Wein argued that the council should deal with the reality of the existing situation and thought the move would be “slightly beneficial” to clean up the area as long as the approval contained a stipulation that the already existing nonconforming situation couldn’t be further modified in the future.

“The net gain is favorable,” Mr. Wein said.

A frustrated Mr. Costello insisted that the council had previously altered pre-existing, nonconforming situations. He’ll await Town Board action, but without optimism that the council’s action will be reversed.

In other business, the WMAC:
• Awaits further word from the Shelter Island Yacht Club Marine Committee about the possibility of the club providing its own pumpout service. Yacht Club members and guests have been using pumpout facilities at Piccozzi’s dock and while the operators there aren’t complaining, having more capacity from the Yacht Club would be welcome, according to Councilman Paul Shepherd, Town Board liaison to the WMAC.

Should the Yacht Club elect to put in a pumpout facility, it wouldn’t qualify for a grant of up to 75 percent of the cost because it’s a private organization. Only if the pumpout facility were to be opened to the public could it receive money from New York State, Mr. Wein said.

• By a vote of 5-0, the WMAC recommended approval of a dock application from Rob Bethge and Melissa Shepstone of 5 Wheeler Road, providing their agent, architect Ian McDonald, provides a new sketch clearly showing the width of the channel at mean low water.

• Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. is ready to do work to clear the Silver Beach Lagoon area of debris so that dredging can be done and awaits the transfer of money from the WMAC account to his department, according to Mr. Loreto. The WMAC member said Mr. Card just wants to ensure that maintaining the cleared and subsequently dredged area won’t have to be done two or three times a year, Mr. Loreto said.

• The WMAC will schedule a meeting for State Department of Environmental Conservation official Soren Dahl to meet with its members, probably in April, to discuss ways to save seagrass in Island waters. Mr. Dahl previously met with the Town Board, but requested the meeting with the WMAC, Mr. Needham said.