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Town Board backs off commercial site plan review


What a difference seven days make.

After last week’s strong rebuke to the Town Board from several Island business owners over site plan review legislation for commercial operations, members agreed at Tuesday’s work session to back off the issue for 120 days.

Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. called it a “temporary suspension,” explaining that its introduction just before the summer season would have hobbled some summer businesses from gaining approvals in a timely way.

Councilman Jim Colligan said there was “a lot of confusion” about the original proposal. In the interim, he said new or expanding businesses would need only a Town Board special permit.

“I don’t necessarily like the idea of backing away,” Councilman Paul Shepherd said.

But in this case, he agreed it was time to reassess, calling for simplification of the process.

Marika Kaasik, owner of Marika’s Eclectic Boutique, told the board it’s difficult to run a business on the Island without complicating the process further.

“We should make it easy for them, not more difficult,” she said about her fellow merchants.

Planning is needed to ensure that new or expanding businesses are providing safe and appropriate parking, Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams said. By knowing plans, some issues can be averted before they become problems, she said.

Members agreed to work with Shelter Island School to get a third of the school connected to a nitrogen-reducing septic system at the American Legion Hall; focus on a five- to 10-year plan to get the remaining two-thirds of the school tapped into a new system; and push ahead to improve water quality at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church and throughout the Center.

Short-term rental hearing
The May 3 public hearing on the revised short-term rental legislation will be held at Shelter Island School, rather than at Town Hall. The decision was unanimous, although Supervisor Gary Gerth initially said he preferred keeping the session at Town Hall, allowing people to come in and say their piece and then leave to make room for others.

Board members disagreed, with Ms. Brach-Williams noting that residents want a chance to hear from one another and deserved to be in a space where they wouldn’t have to leave after their own testimony. The Town Board meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. with the hearing slated to start at 4:45 p.m.

Medical Update
A proposed resolution urging Stony Brook University Hospital officials to hire Dr. Josh Potter, an Island resident, as part of the team working at the Medical Center, ran into a roadblock. Ms. Brach-Williams said she has nothing against Dr. Potter, but is not qualified to recommend any particular doctor. The resolution is likely to re-emerge, since a letter to Stony Brook officials suggests that a doctor living on Shelter Island would be a good hire, but not naming anyone specific.

Stony Brook officials have made it clear they would choose the staff if they agree to operate the Medical Center.

Bay Constables
Chief Read told the Town Board that bay constables will start to check unused moorings, remove winter stakes left in the water and assess floating docks in disrepair. Boaters and mooring owners will be getting notices where violations are identified.

The entire Island can’t be done in a single season, the chief said, but the effort is getting underway. Plans call to start in the West Neck area.