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Debate on new contractors’ fees: Town Board meets in work session

Former Councilman Peter Reich told the Board proposed changes in fee structure affecting contractors represents “a big jump” from existing costs. He also questioned communication between the town and contractors, which he said was inefficient.

Mr. Siller agreed there’s a need for improved communications, but defended the planned increase in licensing fees. It’s needed, the supervisor said, to cover actual costs entailed in assessing projects and monitoring them to ensure they are meeting requirements of their permits.

Building Inspector Chris Tehan defended the proposed $250 fee, saying that even on small projects, he’s has to take time out on busy days to visit sites and resolve problems.

Mr. Siller has been pushing for increasing fees for users of some town services, pointing out the money should be related to specific uses and not passed on to all taxpayers.

What’s a bedroom?

“You don’t interpret code; you enforce code.”

The words were spoken at Tuesday’s Town Board work session by Pamela Demarest who, along with her relatives, has been fighting approval of changes to a neighboring property owned by Katie Ford at 10 South Ram Island Drive.

Her statement was aimed at Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. He told Ms. Demarest the code affecting what is allowed in terms of bedrooms in the main house and accessory building sets a minimum, but not a maximum, on the number of allowable bedrooms in an accessory building. The plan in the future is to use the space as a guest house for visitors, but the pending question has been what constitutes a bedroom.

After previous discussions about the project, the Town Board had asked the Zoning Board of Appeals to determine if one of the rooms in the accessory building had to be removed, or allowed to remain with a designation that it wasn’t being used as a bedroom.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services had already weighed in, according to Matt Sherman of Sherman Engineering, and didn’t count the room in question as a bedroom.

Mr. DeStefano said a room is designated as a bedroom when used primarily for sleeping quarters.

The ZBA chose not to enter the fray, pushing the question back to the Building Department or Town Board.

ZBA members didn’t discuss the specific application, as expected. Instead they spent well over an hour discussing the general question of what constitutes a bedroom. They concluded it wasn’t within their scope.

Councilman Albert Dickson argued that the Department of Health didn’t look at accessory structures, and the town needed to consider the effect of water use on large properties.

Councilman Jim Colligan said the Town Board needs to look at the code to make some changes in the language. At the same time, he said it would likely be impossible to eliminate all potentials for abuses of town code.

Whatever changes might be made in the code, Mr. DeStefano said Ms. Ford’s application  had been filed under the current code, and could not be held to future changes.

Following the encounter between Mr. DeStefano and Ms. Demarest, Supervisor Gerry Siller called an end to the discussion.