Former councilman Ed Brown, who retired from the Town Board in 2015 and is a real estate professional, appealed to his successors not to tie upgraded septic systems to transfers of property. The Town Board has discussed using property transfers as one means of triggering a requirement that nitrogen-reducing septic systems be installed.
Mr. Brown called the move “extremely dangerous,” reminding members that such a requirement could make Shelter Island unaffordable for some property buyers.
“This is about people being able to stay here,” said the man who served on the Town Board for 15 years and was always known as a fiscal hawk.
He’s not opposed to installation of the nitrogen-reducing septic systems, but believes they should be placed in areas of the Island where nitrogen levels are critical, not simply on properties that happen to change ownership.
Some of those houses may have perfectly good septic systems in place that are not aged, and new owners should not be required to replace them with new systems simply because a property has changed hands, he said.
Instead, he advised using grant money to pay for installations in areas where nitrogen levels are most critical.
He challenged Town Board members to maintain a data base of all houses on the Island, identifying the types of septic systems in place and factors that make them either logical targets for replacement of their septic systems or sufficiently served by the systems already in place.
He also told the Town Board that previous administrations didn’t fail to protect the aquifer. Many steps were taken, recognizing the importance of water resources on the Island. Among them, he pointed to the preservation of almost 40 percent of land on the Island, keeping it from being developed that could have compromised water resources.
Mr. Brown said he’s tired of hearing that the town’s infrastructure has been ignored by previous administrations and pointed to efforts made by former supervisors Hoot Sherman, Gerry Siller and Jeffrey Simes.