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Town Board could tighten septic system requirements


The Town Attorney has been directed by the Town Board to draft legislation that if enacted could require stricter regulations for septic systems than Suffolk County.

At the recommendation of the Water Quality Improvement Projects Advisory Board, the board is leaning toward requiring new residential and commercial building and construction that changes 50 percent or more of an existing building to install a new nitrogen-reducing septic systems.

If the legislation is passed, it would likely take effect in January 2018.
Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams, who is liaison to the water quality board, presented its suggestions colleagues at Tuesday’s work session.

Suffolk County officials had initially planned to require mandatory installation of the systems by this summer on new construction and renovations of 50 percent or more of existing buildings, but has not done. Neighboring East Hampton and Southampton have passed legislation mandating the new systems.

Municipalities can impose more strict requirements than the county does, but can’t lessen county mandates.

“I’m a little leary of jumping in too quickly,” Councilman Paul Shepherd said, questioning why the county has not imposed the mandates.

“I love Suffolk County, but when they set a deadline, you can usually multiply it by five,” Supervisor Jim Dougherty replied.

Greg Toner, a member of the water quality board and the Water Advisory Committee, pointed out that the technology for the systems is not new. It’s been employed in other states, including Rhode Island.

“The concept is sound,” Councilman Jim Colligan said. “It’s good to be out in front of the curve.”

Councilwoman Chris Lewis questioned who would be responsible for ensuring necessary yearly maintenance on the systems. Building Permits Coordinator Lori Beard Raymond said she understood that the county would take that responsibility.
Still, Mr. Shepherd wanted assurance that there would be enough installers to handle the demand and enough trained individuals to maintain those systems.

While Ms. Dowd begins work on the initial draft, Mr. Toner agreed to seek out answers to Mr. Shepherd’s questions.

The Town Board isn’t prepared to take action on rules and regulations affecting grants the water quality board would like to offer those seeking financial assistance to install the nitrogen-reducing septic systems.

Mr. Dougherty called for a less complicated, more user-friendly document that applicants could better understand.

Mr. Toner said the Town Board, which would make the final decisions on each grant application, could decided not to give grants or to offer them at between 25 to 100 percent of a project’s cost. The Town Board would also decide whether or not to impose a means test for those to applying for grants.

Joel Assouline, a Serpentine Drive resident in the Heights, loves Sunset Beach Hotel. It reminds him of his home in France. That said, what he doesn’t love is late night music coming from below his house.

“I love it,” he said about the popular night spot. “But at midnight, I’m not sure I love it then.”

He’s called the police who have responded and issued summonses to Sunset Beach Hotel operators, Mr. Assouline said. But they consider the summonses part of the cost of doing business, he added. He’s now asking the Town Board do something about the music, suggesting the operators be required to lower the volume or redirect their speakers.

The problem with redirecting speakers, Ms. Lewis said, is they then aim at Greenport, annoying residents there, just as Claudio’s Clam Bar music has aggravated Hay Beach and Shelter Island Heights residents in the past.

The board agreed to look into what can be done so that those partying at Sunset Beach can enjoy themselves without disturbing the neighbors.

Mr. Colligan made a plea to drivers to slow down and watch for residents and town workers who are cutting grass along the side of roadways. The land belongs to the town, but many residents choose to cut the grass themselves. With trees and bushes planted long ago that have spread out toward the roadways, the result is a danger to those doing the work.

Highway Department employee Rob Gorcoff was seriously injured recently when he was struck by a vehicle while filling potholes on South Ferry Road. He’s recovering and due back on the Island this week.