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Shelter Island Town Board passes —for now — on amending septic law

The Town Board at its Tuesday work session essentially threw in the towel on trying to change the local law on requirements for installing new I/A (Innovative Alternative) septic systems that reduce nitrogen flowing into the aquifer. 

Last week the topic was discussed at length, but strong objections from Councilman Mike Bebon and Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams carried the day on Tuesday. Mr. Bebon said that the board should wait to make changes until the views of the Water Advisory Committee and the Water Quality Improvement Projects Advisory Board are heard.

In other business

Police Chief Jim Read, the town’s emergency management coordinator, told the board that the town is joining the county and other towns and villages to put together a Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan specific to Shelter Island will be an update to plans made in 2008 and 2014. 

The chief said the update will include the Island’s “critical facilities,” which include municipal buildings, the firehouses, the school, North and South ferry terminals and water treatment plants. This year, the mitigation plan will also include cyber security, the chief said. On the agenda will be a public outreach, using an online questionnaire. Mr. Bebon suggested that before the online effort, there be a roundtable discussion with “shareholders, to engage them in the process.”

The chief agreed, noting that considering Bridge Street flooding during severe storms, the business owners there should be asked for ideas. A committee will be set up, headed by Chief Read, and include Mr. Bebon, Highway Superintendent Brian Sherman, Town Attorney Robert DeStefano Jr., Building Inspector Chris Tehan, Town Engineer John Cronin, Grant Writer Jennifer Mesiano and clerk to the committee Jennifer Beresky.

Supervisor Gerry Siller reported on a recent meeting he’d had with other East End officials and Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. The topic of discussion was Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of a bill passed by the legislature to create an affordable housing component to the Community Preservation Fund. The legislation would call for an additional 0.5% real estate transfer tax from property buyers. 

The governor was not interested in putting more taxes on the books, the assemblyman had said. But when Mr. Thiele met with the governor recently, he said Mr. Cuomo could be convinced about the need for affordable housing on the East End and the bill is not dead. Mr. Thiele said he would put together information from the towns for another meeting in April with Mr. Cuomo.

“It’s doable,” Mr. Siller said.