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Councilman casts lone ‘no’ on large house application

Councilman Albert Dickson was as good as his word.

At the December 4 Town Board work session, members discussed an application that would demolish a 3,068-square-foot Little Ram Island house and replace it with a 9,619-square-foot, two-story structure with nine bedrooms, multiple bathrooms and a 75-foot by 20-foot swimming pool.

At the work session, Mr. Dickson expressed concern to his colleagues about the massive size of the planned residence and asked, “Do we have the will to do something?”

At the Town Board meeting December 14, when the application was put to a vote, Mr. Dickson was the lone “no” vote, with Supervisor Gary Gerth, Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams and Councilman Paul Shepherd voting to approve the application. Councilman Jim Colligan was absent.

After the vote, Mr. Dickson said the reason he stood firm against the application was about water — specifically, protecting the aquifer from being poisoned by nitrates from a septic system, and the stress put on the aquifer by a large house full of people.

On the subject of safe drinking water, he noted recent tests at the Presbyterian Church that found the nitrate limit dramatically exceeding potablity, prompting the Suffolk Country Department of Health Services to require the church to post notices about the danger.

“It comes down to the aquifer,” Mr. Dickson said. “Are we going to take steps to protect it?”

As for the size of the house, the town code has a limit of 6,000-square-feet for residences, but variances are applied for and granted. “This house is over 9,000-square feet,” Mr. Dickson said. “Why not enforce the town code?”

Mr. Dickson pointed out that the house was slated to be for a family, but asked if the place was sold, what subsequent use would the large house and pool be used for?

He noted the effort that was undertaken to form a Comprehensive Plan for the town in 1994, when the whole community was involved in public meetings. “The plan said you’re going to have a nitrate problem and steps should be taken to protect the aquifer,” Mr. Dickson said. “Since then, what have we done?”