Featured Story

Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee draws fire from within

What appeared to be a smooth effort toward creating a new Comprehensive Plan for Shelter Island has hit a snag threatening to derail the process.

At issue is the posting on the town website of a draft of a “Vision Statement of Values” and “Principles to Guide Planning and Implementation.”

A member of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee requested the statement be taken down because it hadn’t been vetted by the 12-member committee.

The statement remains on the website.

This is not the first time that a draft has been posted to the website, seeking input from the community to help shape the final statement. But this time, member Kathleen DeRose said she and others had not previously seen the statement and believe it represents a change to the zoning code in ways that would adversely affect the density in the town.

The agenda for tonight’s Comprehensive Plan meeting (Monday, June 7) identifies Ms. DeRose as requesting the removal of the Vision Statement from the website and the addition of a second item to discuss land use and zoning.

The Comprehensive Plan group has three segments — two professional consultants, three members of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force and the 12 members of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee.

Throughout the process, Advisory Committee members have not hesitated to voice concerns when they disagreed or wanted to further define needs put forth by the consultants. Their input appeared to be received as helping to inform the two Massachusetts-based consultants of information germane to the future development of the town.

Project manager Edward Hindin, one of the three members of the Task Force, which includes Councilmen Albert Dickson and Mike Bebon, said he agreed to add Ms. DeRose’s requests to discuss issues not previously on the agenda, but had not removed the Vision Statement from the website. He declined further comment, except to say his performance to date speaks for him.

A review of the draft on the website contains language that has been put forward at previous public meetings of the Comprehensive Plan Group, including a statement by consultant Larissa Brown at the most recent meeting.

She described the town as a welcoming Island community with a diverse mix of year-round and summer residents from all walks of life, adding that residents and visitors enjoy an unpretentious way of life in tranquil neighborhoods. Residents focus on simple pleasures of land and sea, quiet beaches and starry nights, scenic ferry rides, good food, music, and friends and family. The community is knit together by an ethos of neighborliness, inclusion and mutual care.

Similarly, the section on values and principles to guide in the next steps to development of a new plan appear in line with discussion at that meeting.

The full draft is on the website at shelterislandtown.us under the Comprehensive Plan tab.

Tonight’s meeting is at 7 p.m. and can be accessed by contacting Coco Lee Thurman at [email protected].