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This week in Shelter Island history


Cynthia Lennon was granted a divorce from John Lennon after she returned home to find that Yoko Ono had moved into the couple’s home.

The United States launched Pioneer 9, a satellite designed to orbit the sun as a robotic interplanetary weatherman looking for solar radiation storms hazardous to moon-bound astronauts.

Actress Parker Posey, known as the Queen of Indies, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Her career has included roles in the film “You’ve Got Mail” and on television in “Will and Grace,” “Boston Legal” and “Parks and Recreation.”

Comedian Tracy Morgan was born in the Bronx.

Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress where she served seven terms and in 1972 was the first black candidate to seek a major party nomination for president on the Democratic ticket.

And on Shelter Island  . . .


Taxpayers, school officials embroiled in proposition dispute

A proposal to add classrooms to the Shelter Island School 50 years ago resulted in a battle royal between school officials and a taxpayers group that insisted there were empty rooms available without the expense of close to a $1 million for an addition.

Both sides charged the other with deceptive practices in making their case and ultimately, those opposed to the project won the argument at the polls in early November.

POSTSCRIPT: In the last few years, there has been considerable money spent on the school building to ensure its longevity and energy-efficient operation. Currently, projects are relatively small with no major initiatives on the books this year. Opening of school this year involved cleaning, some painting and improving security at the building.


Peconic Bay gets priority consideration

The presence of brown tide in Peconic Bay sparked giving priority  to deal with the issue 30 years ago under enactment of the House-Senate Ocean Dumping Act. According to the National Estuary Program, any development taking place in a critical environmental area must be subject to review under New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act.

POSTSCRIPT: Peconic Bay, which all but lost its scallops in past years because of pollution, is back in business thanks to government policies. Grants are awarded to those willing to upgrade their  outdated septic systems to nitrogen-reducing systems. Supervisor Gary Gerth said that with three levels of grant money, it’s going to make it easier to get the upgraded systems with little cost to the property owner.


Island leads East End on 2 percent transfer tax

Shelter Island voters led the five East End towns in endorsing a proposition to create the Community Preservation Fund calling for a 2 percent tax to be paid by new property buyers in each municipality with the money to be used to acquire open spaces.

Similar propositions passed in all five towns, but Shelter Island’s proposition won 72 percent of voters while the other municipalities won with between 58 and 66 percent of their voters endorsing the proposition.

POSTSCRIPT: It has been a slow year for receipts to the Community Preservation Fund on the Island as fewer property purchases have taken place here than in other years. But still the town has been able to save many acres from development. And in the past few years, the CPF money has provided for water quality improvements as a result of a resolution that enabled each of the towns to direct up to 20 percent of its CPF revenues for such purposes.


Night of contention and confusion for ZBA

It was 10 years ago that the ZBA struggled with a town code that simply didn’t spell out direct answers to applicants’ questions.

In the first case, a couple wanted to rent out their six-bedroom house to six international students from Ross School and a chaperone, but the code limited rentals to five unrelated people and no one could find a use in the code that would allow for the plan. A second question arose when Building Department personnel sought an answer to how many accessory apartments and/or accessory sleeping quarters could be allowed on a single property.

Again, there was no help from the town code.

POSTSCRIPT: With the passage of 10 years, one might expect a reworking of the town code, but while there have been amendments, a North Fork attorney recently outlined conflicting parts of the code that would seem to ban her client from operating one structure she owns offering a short-term rental and another she owns as a B&B.


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