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State bills push East End shuttle system forward

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Matt Sherman of Sherman Engineering told the Town Board Friday that while original plans called for raising an existing dwelling at 6 Hager Road to install a basement underneath, it might be preferable to take the structure down and start from scratch.

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Matt Sherman of Sherman Engineering told the Town Board Friday that while original plans called for raising an existing dwelling at 6 Hager Road to install a basement underneath, it might be preferable to take the structure down and start from scratch.

The latest effort to improve East End transportation by decreasing traffic congestion took a small step forward Friday.

The Shelter Island Town Board unanimously approved a home rule resolution necessary for the New York State Legislature to establish a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council. Similar resolutions have been or will be passed by leaders in the other four East End towns.

Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblymen Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) have introduced bills meant to establish the council that would be charged with developing plans for an East End shuttle service to relieve highway congestion.

The legislation is aimed at establishing the framework and providing resources to foster cooperation among  the five East End towns and state and federal agencies.

It’s hardly the first effort to improve public transportation in a region overwhelmed with traffic on roads that can’t sustain the volume.

“Expanding traffic congestion has resulted in deteriorating traffic safety with increased traffic accidents and fatalities,” according to the proposed bills. “The unique geography of the Peconic Bay region limits the ability to expand highway capacity [and] the narrow forks limit the augmentation of future highway capacity in an east-west direction.”

Building on various studies of problems that have worsened year by year since, the council would be charged with moving forward the development of an East End shuttle that the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center of the U.S. Department of Transportation concluded was “both viable and desirable.”

Brewery passes final hurdle

It has been a long wait, Jim Hull, owner of the Shelter Island Craft Brewery has all necessary approvals in place with the Town Board’s approval Friday of a special permit.

Mr. Hull opened the business last spring, only to be closed by federal authorities who said some of his paperwork wasn’t in order.

But just as the July 4 weekend was about to start, Mr. Hull got final approvals through the State Liquor Authority and the business was up and running.

While he continued to brew and sell beer, issues arose about parking and the realization that the required special permit wasn’t in place. The town didn’t shut down the brewery, but did take steps to  get the necessary application into the pipeline.
Approval was unanimous with stipulations affecting parking, lighting and noise levels.

The brewery is allowed three indoor and six outdoor tables and is permitted to operate between noon and 8 p.m., but can’t have amplified music.

Mr. Hull is allowed a waiver of parking rules providing he posts signage directing customers to off-site parking.

Hearings

The Town Board Friday delayed action on a wetlands permit for Richard and Charlotte Clark affecting the rebuilding of their house at 6J Hager Road, despite a recommendation from the  Conservation Advisory Council that the permit be approved. The Planning Board had rejected the application by a 2-4 vote.

Original plans called for lifting the existing house to install a basement underneath, and then making substantial renovations to a detached garage and constructing a second story accessory sleeping quarters above the garage.

But Matt Sherman of Sherman Engineering said it might be preferable to take down the existing house and start from scratch rather than to lift the structure and fix the foundation.

He also said that since the owners don’t yet have Suffolk County Department of Health Services approval for the bedroom space above the garage, he would be seeking approval of plans that would not immediately include the living space. Instead, the garage space would be used only for storage unless the Health Department approved it for living space. That might require installation of a second septic system on the property, Mr. Sherman said.

Neighbor Charles Pensa said he has no objection to the plans with two provisos. The first is that his house at 6C Hager Road would have no problems with water resulting from the Clarks’ renovations. Second, it there’s any damage to the roadway as a result of construction, he wanted assurance it would be fixed.

Mr. Clark readily agreed to the latter and Mr. Sherman said testing would be done in advance to assure no water problems would result for Mr. Pensa  should the Clarks get permission for the work on their property.

The hearing was adjourned until April 22.

Joseph Hakim of 8 Club Drive wants an inground swimming pool on his property and has passed muster with the Zoning Board of Appeals and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. But he must await digging of a test pit to determine exactly where groundwater is to assure that the pool excavation won’t adversely affect neighbors’ water supply.

Mr. Sherman, who also represents Mr. Hakim, said the owner made some changes to pool plans, including reducing its size, to comply with requests from the ZBA. While there are other places on the property where the pool could be placed, Mr. Sherman said the ZBA agreed none were really viable.

Upcoming hearing

The special permit needed by the Shelter Island Historical Society to construct a one-story addition to its museum will be on the docket for a public hearing on Friday, April 22, at 4:50 p.m.

The new structure is planned to provide space for archives, display and research and will include basement storage space as well as a west section to be climate controlled for storage and archives. It is to include a bathroom and kitchenette for employee use.

In other action, the Town Board:
• Reappointed Michael Gulluscio to the Ferry Study Group for a term that runs through January 29, 2018.
• Reappointed Michael Coles to the Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board for a term running through February 2, 2019.
• Approved a permit for the Shelter Island Historical Society to hold a car show on its grounds on June 25.
• Awarded a bid for corn for use in the 4-poster units to Neptune Farm Products Inc. at a total cost of $2,448.
• Approved a permit for the September 10 Great Peconic Race for kayak and paddle boat participants.
• Approved a permit for the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association to hold its annual Bike-Boat-Bike event on June 5.

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