Heights Property Owners Corporation General Manager Stella Lagudis walked a careful line at the Town Board work session Tuesday, trying to balance the needs of a Heights resident with those of neighbors and drivers in the North Ferry line.
Zach Vella has won approval to link two structures on his merged property at 12 Clinton Avenue, but his architect made a recent plea for work to begin during summer months when the Heights generally restricts construction.
Earlier this month, the Town Board approved the project that involves joining the two structures on the property and said deliveries of construction materials could be made this summer and a new curb cut to provide an egress from the property could be made.
But Tuesday, Councilman Albert Dickson told his colleagues he’s not in favor of the project and opposes the amount of activity that would take place during the summer months. The property abuts the North Ferry line where activity picks up markedly in the summer months.
Other Town Board members agreed after hearing Mr. Dickson, and Ms. Lagudis said she wants to cooperate with Mr. Vella and his architect, Barbara Corwin, but has to balance their interests with those of the neighbors and those using North Ferry.
Safety is the dominant issue, Ms. Lagudis said.
“To us, it’s a recipe for disaster,” she said about trucks pulling into and out of the Vella property from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Attempts to provide restrictions, including Mr. Vella having front hedges removed during construction and providing someone to direct traffic, might ease the situation, she said.
But the Town Board ultimately is asking its attorney, Bob DeStefano Jr., to write a decision prohibiting any work from occurring prior to Labor Day.
TAXING SEPTIC GRANTS
The town has approved grants up to $15,000 each for applicants who want to install nitrogen-reducing septic systems on their property. But board members recently learned that recipients of the grant money would likely have to pay taxes on the grant money received.
That could cripple the ability of some applicants to push forward with their projects if money is tight, Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams said. Grants that Suffolk County are providing are paid directly to contractors, so those whose properties get the systems aren’t hit with taxes. But the town didn’t want the burden of having to track each project and determine whether payment was appropriate.
Instead, it opted to provide its grants once projects were completed and it had the necessary paperwork in hand to show that the terms of the project had been completed.
For the moment, those who have been told they qualified for town grants will get a follow-up letter explaining the tax consequences. Meanwhile the Town Board will explore the possibility of finding another means of providing grants without having recipients receive a 1099 tax form for the money.
In other business, the Town Board:
• Opted to appoint a subcommittee to explore the 1959 law affecting mergers of lots that results in some lots restricted from construction.
• Agreed to allocate $10,000 if there is sufficient funds in the town’s contingency fund to expand technology consulting. Currently, the town has been employing a consultant from East End Computers to provide equipment and now the effort is to provide “document management activity.” The other question about the money is whether the addition can be accommodated in the following year’s budget for ongoing consulting services.
“It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Councilman Jim Colligan said. The ongoing efforts would also provide cyber security training for all employees, IT Committee member Craig Wood said.
• Agreed to toss back to the school district a request to improve tennis courts that are more than 20 years old and need to be resurfaced to avoid liability from falls.
• Agreed to look into state legislation that might limit spraying of some insecticides to determine if there are ways to restrict its use already or whether the town needs to enact its own ordinance.. Supervisor Gary Gerth said he has also been speaking with beekeepers on the Island concerned that their colonies are being killed by the insecticides.