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Shepherd: Residents want action on proportionality

COURTESY PHOTO |  The Town Board met in work session Tuesday.
The Town Board met in work session Tuesday.

“I think the bubble is breaking,” Councilman Paul Shepherd told his Town Board colleagues at Tuesday’s work session.
Mr. Shepherd was continuing a discussion about proportionality of buildings to the lots on which they sit, an issue the board has been circling for months.

Islanders tend to agree, Mr. Shepherd added, that they want the board to take action to preserve the quiet, small town ambiance they love and stop what they fear is a trend toward an increasing number of “McMansions.”
Councilwoman Chris Lewis agreed, but elicited laughter when she said they want their own properties eliminated from any new ordinances.

Presenting what he labeled “a rough, rough, rough draft,” Councilman Jim Colligan built on one presented by Councilman Paul Shepherd, outlining possible limits to building sizes on various lot sizes.

At the same time, he said he’s not wedded to the numbers and any legislation would have to be the result of “much discussion, analysis and compromise.”

The plan suggests the maximum livable floor space for houses not in the Near Shore Overlay District on 1.5 acres of buildable land would be 8,385 square feet. Within the Near Shore Overlay District, the maximum livable space would be 4,791 square feet.

But in calculating “buildable” acres on a lot, the town would eliminate all wetlands in the formula, including man-made or natural ponds and all setback requirements would have to be met.

That raised a question from resident Barbara Allen-Liebleing about the use of livable space. With the proliferation of Airbnbs — private houses providing rooms for guests with no licensing or inspections guest housing needs to be defined.

“We’re not being strict enough on the use of the properties,” Ms. Allen said.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty said the subject of Airbnbs is on his list and he’s been following what other East End communities are doing. But he added he’s not convinced any have reached workable solutions to deal with Airbnbs.

The subject of proportionality will be back on the agenda at future work sessions.

In the “Around the Table” section of the meeting, where non-agenda items can be discussed:
• Mr. Dougherty plans to call a meeting of the Ferry Advisory Committee to discuss issues affecting long lines in Greenport that have villagers there calling for a surcharge on vehicles using the boats. Ms. Lewis blamed a lack of signage for much of the problem that has drivers trying to access the ferry line from Third Street instead of Wiggins Street.
• The supervisor plans to invite a St. Joseph’s College professor knowledgeable about affordable housing to meet the Town Board at an upcoming meeting.
• Ms. Lewis suggested the Building Department inspect pool sites not just when surveyors are marking them, but again when concrete is to be poured to ensure there has been no change in the placement of the pool. Other communities have two site visits prior to construction, she said.

In the section of the meeting open to the public, Ms. Allen asked the Town Board to investigate how Cablevision and other utilities are able to place equipment too near roadways so it becomes a hazard for those plowing roads and other traffic. She said equipment in Hay Beach has recently been placed on both sides of the roads in most places and is a hazard.