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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Comedian Jerry Lewis held his Second Annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon over Labor Day weekend in 1967.

Surveyor 5, one of a series of unmanned missions meant to test the moon’s surface for a manned flight that would come in July 1969, was launched and made a soft landing on the moon despite a helium leak.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King beat Britain Ann Jones to win the 81st National Tennis Championship.

Debra Dene Barnes of Kansas was crowned the 40th Miss America.

Jim Morrison of The Doors defied CBS censors when he sang the original words to “Light My Fire” — “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” instead of the version censors wanted — “Girl, we couldn’t get much better.”

And on Shelter Island . . .


Appeals Board denies bank

North Fork Bank 50 years ago unsuccessfully sought to build a branch office on Shelter Island.

But the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the application, taking into consideration objections of many neighbors around the Auburn Place site where the bank was to be constructed in the Heights. The code at the time allowed banks in residential areas, but only with ZBA approval.

Neighbors said they saw the proposal as an expansion of the business district and worried that it would increase traffic in the area. The bank, at the time, maintained an office on Grand Avenue.

POSTSCRIPT: Several years ago, North Fork Bank was purchased by Capital One, which has a branch office at the intersection of West Neck and North Menantic roads. Last week, bank officials confirmed that branch will close in November.


WAC nears completion of sprinkler law

It was at this time back in 1987 that the Water Advisory Committee was putting the finishing touches on a proposed law for the Town Board’s consideration that aimed at water conservation.

The effort was to limit the installation and use of automatic sprinkler systems. The plan called for permits to be filed for installation of any new system or alteration of any existing system and use of the systems was to be limited to after 5 in the evening or before 10 in the morning. There were provisions included for needs of agriculture, floriculture and golf courses, and an hardship appeal process for others. The systems would have to be equipped with automatic shutoffs in wet or rainy weather.

POSTSCRIPT: In 1993, the town was planning to stop use of the automatic systems, but delayed any action for 10 years to allow those who had just installed them to use them before the hammer came down. By 2013, when the systems were to be affected by the law, the Town Board agreed technology had improved and appointed an irrigation committee to investigate and recommend  what should be done about water conservation on the Island.

Systems weren’t banned, but were required to use cisterns and other measures were imposed about hours of watering, whether by hose or automatic irrigation systems. It was expected that the new law enacted in 2015 would have to be revisited from time to time.


Town Board unveils zoning code change recommendations

When the Town Board in September 1997 unveiled its proposed zoning code changes, there was no lack of criticism from many quarters.

Paul Mobius, who was then a town councilman but would go on to chair the Planning Board, said he opposed changes in the new code meant to manage future growth on the Island.

The proposed changes were meant to embrace the town’s Comprehensive Plan that had been adopted in 1994. Some thought the proposed changes were too broad, while others thought they failed to address needed changes.

Plans called for a day-long review of the proposals in sections to provide the Town Board with input it would use in tweaking the proposal prior to voting on whether or not to adopt it.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, the Town Board is engaged in reviewing a proposal to create site plan reviews for commercial development on the Island. It first reached out to the Planning Board for suggestions. The planners initially resisted, wanting to stick to its basic charge of dealing with subdivisions and lot line changes.

But pushed by the Town Board, the Planning Board offered input on site plan reviews. The Town Board is still reviewing the issue.


Beach beefs end summer season

Islanders complained throughout the summer of 2007 about Sunset Beach Hotel patrons taking over Crescent Beach. Late in August, the hotel allowed an unauthorized concert that resulted in the town issuing summonses. There were complaints that summer about noise and use of kayaks and jet skis in the area where swimmers are allowed.

While the summonses went out, Councilwoman Chris Lewis said there was a difference between patrons of the hotel using the beach and the presence of kayaks and jet skis in the area.

POSTSCRIPT: The town has long since worked out an agreement with Sunset Beach Hotel operators to allow chairs to be placed at the back of the beach area that hotel patrons could move nearer to the water for their use.

But in a recent Town Board work session, a Shelter Island Heights resident raised the issue of late night music disturbing his sleep. He said he loved Sunset Beach. It reminded him of his home in France, but he asked that late night music be stopped.

The Town Board took no immediate action, but agreed with the resident that issuing summonses doesn’t stop the problem because it’s just looked at as part of the cost of doing business in the area.

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