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Reporter Letters to the Editor

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Lone voice
To the Editor:
I am the lone voice on the Planning Board that firmly believes we do not need a Site Plan Review law.

A new law basically says if you have business property and decide on a change of use or need to get a building permit, a site plan review will be triggered.

It costs money — and can be expensive — and you’ll probably need to hire a lawyer and get an engineer if, for example, you wanted to stop selling tomatoes and start growing corn. In one recent case, the property owner wished to stop selling baked goods and start having wine tastings. The fee to the town for this was $960. Fortunately, the Town Board has suspended the law, for the time being.

Folks, this is Shelter Island, we do not need this law. There are so few business properties on this island, and coupled with that is the difficulty of running a business here because of seasonality and a limited population. Many businesses I know struggle for nine months, losing money every day in the hope of making it up in three months. Why make it harder for them?

Look, I know nationally there is this big anti business sentiment, but when we make it harder for businesses on our island, we are going against community members, the individuals who support our charities and donate their time to the betterment of our children and generally make a more interesting place to live.
Marcus Kaasik
Shelter Island

Editor’s note: Mr. Kaasik is a Republican running for a seat on the Town Council in November.

A few corrections
To the Editor:
Subject: David Olsen’s “Nitrogen Problem?” letter to the editor of August 29.
The letter is about 90% correct regarding the nitrogen cycle in wastewater treatment, but just a few corrections are needed.

First, when people talk of the “nitrogen problem,” the concern is the nitrogen found in the compounds David has identified (urea, nitrates, nitrites, etc.) – not the two-atom molecule nitrogen gas. The objective of Advanced Innovative Onsite Wastewater Treatment systems is to convert these compounds into harmless nitrogen gas. This is done by various techniques to allow anerobic and aerobic bacteria the opportunity to conduct the biochemical reactions needed to accomplish this.

Second, a “standard” septic holding tank and leaching pool are not effective in allowing the bacteria to, well, “eat” the nitrates. The holding tank effluent pours the unreacted nitrates 10 feet into the ground — little oxygen or bacteria there — resulting in the dispersal straight down to our drinking water aquifer. Nitrate maximum concentration of 10 parts per million (a small amount!) is the upper limit for potable water, especially a concern for babies (it interrupts their ability to use oxygen – known as “blue baby syndrome”).

Third, fertilizers are a concern — David has this right. But the United States Geologic Survey and many other sources have determined that the increase in nitrate concentration in the aquifers mirror the low but increasing levels of other types of wastewater compounds from septic effluent (soaps, pharmaceuticals) in aquifers. Population growth — more effluent. Fertilizers are in the mix, but are not the primary cause of our nitrogen problem. He is correct that stronger legislation on location and restricting use of fertilizer should be considered.

Finally, on Shelter Island, we have access to a very small piece of the East End’s freshwater supply, only the aquifer under our feet. The various red/brown tides and dead fish in Peconic Bay were the canaries in the coal mine indicating the freshwater aquifers are compromised by nitrates. The financial efforts of the town, county, and state governments reflect the level of concern officials have for our salt and fresh water. Reducing and even leveling off nitrates in aquifers may take decades, but I believe the installation of I/A systems are the best cost/benefit option Shelter Islanders have right now.
Greg Toner
Shelter Island

Foot friendly
To the Editor:
Friends from Brooklyn texted my wife and last Saturday morning: “We’re coming to Shelter Island.”

Unfortunately, we were in Sag Harbor that day visiting friends and so we suggested a few activities about town including: walk in the Heights, go to The Black Cat book store, get ice cream at the Tuck Shop and check out the local brewery.

To our surprise, they completed all the items on our checklist, but found the experience harrowing, to say the least. Twice, they were brushed by large pick-up trucks speeding along Route 114, and they couldn’t talk to one another because they were forced to march single file up from Marie Eiffel’s to get to the book store.

We have recently bought a house on the Island. We are about five blocks from the Heights. As we seek to better integrate into the community, we find it difficult to make connections because there is very little walkable space on the island. This is our experience in trying to integrate to the Island and it seems to us that there is an opportunity to create a more welcoming, foot-friendly community.
Jon and Corinne Godsall
Shelter Island

Wonderful
To the Editor:
I had a medical emergency on Sunday, Aug. 25 and was taken to Eastern Long Island Hospital via ambulance.

My husband and I wish to sincerely thank the ambulance crew and the Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services for their prompt, efficient and kind assistance.

We are so lucky in this community to have such wonderful and well-prepared first responders.

Thank you.
Madeleine McClellan
Shelter Island

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