The Town Board took a step forward October 27 on septic system improvements. But a major initiative establishing a system of rebates to offset costs to property owners awaits a November 17 public hearing.
Last week’s action establishes a registry of all septic systems in town and requires that property owners also inform the town of any changes or upgrades to their systems.
It’s been noted at several meetings discussing water quality that there are Island property owners who don’t know where their septic systems are located or what maintenance may be needed.
With costs of installation of the new nitrogen-reducing systems hovering around $20,000, the town wants to provide rebates of up to $15,000 to as many property owners as possible who opt for upgrades.
The legislation to codify rebates wouldn’t list the dollar amount since, as Town Attorney Laury Dowd speculated, current costs could go down in the future. What the new law would do is establish the program for voluntary upgrades to systems believed to be potential sources of nitrogen pollution in surface and ground waters.
It would also alleviate the need for individual public hearings on each recommendation the Town Board receives from the Water Quality Improvement Projects Advisory Board.
A suggestion from the Water Quality Advisory Board to require nitrogen reducing systems for new structures or to those where renovations result in changing 50 percent or more of existing structures has not made it into the new proposal. But new construction would not be eligible for rebates in any case. Upgrading of existing systems would be done on a voluntary basis.
Rebates could cover costs associated with the new nitrogen-reducing systems related to equipment, labor, materials and excavation of existing sanitary systems.
The Water Quality Board would review applications and recommend them to the Town Board to either fund or reject, based on specific criteria.
Among the criteria would be the amount of time applicants spend on the Island; the type of existing system currently serving the property; and calculations on the amount of nitrogen that would be reduced by upgrading from an applicants present system to one of the approved new systems. (See story page xxx.)
If the Town Board approves the proposed system after a public hearing, application forms would be available at Town Hall.
If the resolution on handling rebates doesn’t require any major changes, the Town Board could vote quickly and get the process underway. That could mean some rebates get approved before the end of the year.
The Town Board held public hearings on two resolutions, with no comments on either and unanimous approval of both:
• A hearing on how to use $13,570 expected as a Community Block rebate to be used for purposes, including housing rehabilitation, public services, public improvements and facilities administration and planning
• A hearing on a change in wording to define fire wardens as the town fire marshal and fire chiefs of the district
In other business, the Town Board:
• Appointed Lisa Krekeler to the Zoning Board of Appeals
• Appointed John Reilly to the Conservation Advisory Council
• Appointed Mary Dudley Luecker to the Assessment Board of Review
• Appointed Catherine Davidson as a recreation leader at the rate of $20 per hour, retroactive to October 23
• Approved a long-pending application for a wetlands permit from Camille and Mike Anglin to upgrade the septic system already approved by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to allow for construction to create an apartment above Jack’s Marine on Bridge Street rather than to use the upstairs space solely for storage
• Approved Joshua Levine’s application for a wetlands permit to allow demolition and new construction at 37D Westmoreland Drive that enables removal of a screened room and brick patio and construction of a deck, a new pool and two pergolas. The permit will also allow for repair of existing decks and stone walkways
• Approved both a special permit and permit for house reconstruction at 2 Little Ram Island Drive submitted by Thomas Roush
• Approved installation of a mooring in West Neck By for Ronald Cyr of 1 Quail Hedge Lane