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Town Board: State-of-the-art septic systems for new houses



Suffolk County may not be ready to move to require nitrogen-reducing septic systems for newly constructed residences, but Shelter Island is expected to take that step at its Friday meeting with one caveat.

Anyone building a house of more than 1,500 square feet would have to install the so called “Innovative/Alternative” (I/A) system. But the Town Board agreed at its Tuesday work session not to mandate that requirement for those who are building “starter houses” on the Island.

Councilman Paul Shepherd led that discussion, pointing out that while an extra $15,000 for a nitrogen-reducing septic system might seem like a tiny amount to those constructing multi-million dollar houses, it could be a real setback for those building a small house.

Under Suffolk County law, no grant money for septic systems can be given to those building new houses.

Mr. Shepherd said he spoke with County Legislator Albert Krupski (D-Cutchogue) about the intent of the county to take similar action and came away convinced there is nothing currently in the pipeline in terms of mandating the I/A systems for new construction.

The board agreed to amend the original proposed resolution to include the exemption for houses of 1,500 square feet or less.

At the most recent meeting of East End Supervisors and Mayors the group voted that Shelter Island and Dering Harbor should share a “pumpout boat” valued at $120,000.

This is a boat that empties another boat’s waste into a tank and then disposes it safely, rather than discharging it into the water.

While Supervisor Gary Gerth said he was grateful to his colleagues, Mr. Shepherd raised an issue of maintenance costs. Under the agreement, if any of the other East End towns or villages needed to borrow the boat, it would be provided to them without cost.

Currently, the others have their own pumpout boats. But sharing the boat could occur if one of their boats is being serviced.

Details of where the boat will be kept on Shelter Island and how it will be maintained and shared are still to be determined, Mr. Gerth said.

While the “SuffolkShare” program was announced by County Executive Steve Bellone last August, Shelter Island has not signed its contract to cooperate in the effort to save municipalities money by sharing some services and assets.

Under an agreement the board expects to approve at Friday’s meeting, the town would be able to select from a menu of services to share costs with other municipalities.

Among the services are tree removal, pumpout boats, graffiti removal, truck washing, sign shop services, language translation, recycling, fueling stations, mapping, surveying, website development, GIS services, professional training and purchasing.

The town is signing a one-year contract, but is free to withdraw if it determines it will not benefit from the program.