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Town Board reconstitutes Housing Board, delays action on several pending issues

The Town Board Friday moved to reconstitute the dormant Community Housing Board, appointing four members to join the sole survivor Chris DiOrio of the original Board following a blowup in June.

Peter McCracken, who had quit the Community Housing Board (CHB) following an explosive June meeting, is back, joining Mr. DiOrio. The new members are Bran Dougherty-Johnson, Paul Cuccurullo and Maria Maggenti, reducing what had been a seven-member group to five.

A meeting with the members is planned to discuss the charge the Town Board gives to the CHB following statements by Supervisor Gerry Siller that he thought the previous Board had overstepped its original charge by getting involved in specific potential sites and plans for affordable units.

The Town Board removed short-term former member Bob Kohn after he tried to make the case for why affordable housing shouldn’t be created on the Island. When he was initially appointed, he told the Town Board during his interview he would bring new approaches to the discussions about housing. He didn’t tell them at the time he had no commitment to seeing the Town create housing that could serve students who wanted to return after college to live there; workers who held jobs at various Island businesses who could not afford to live there; seniors with long ties to the Island who were being priced out of the housing market; and younger families whose members could serve as volunteers for the Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.

Mr. Kohn basically said anyone who couldn’t afford to live on the Island should move.

His remarks were met with anger from Mr. DiOrio and disdain from many in the meeting room who were incensed by his words.

Mr. Kohn said after that meeting he feared he would be attacked leaving the meeting. His encounters started when he attempted to add a discussion to an agenda for an earlier meeting that would have opened the CHB to comment on the Gardiner’s Bay Country Club application for staff housing. It was rebuffed by then CHB chairman Mike Bebon, who was a councilman.

A bit of research revealed to Mr. Kohn that Mr. Bebon by Town Code should not be serving on the CHB, ultimately leading to the then councilman’s resignation from the Town Board. At the time, Mr. Bebon said his resignation was motivated by his decision to move from Shelter Island. 

It didn’t take long for the Town Board to remove Mr. Kohn from the CHB.

The Town Board Friday also appointed members to fill out vacancies on two other committees and boards:

• Michael Shatken to the Planning Board

• Doug Sherrod and Andrew Chapman to the Water Advisory Committee

Tom Graffagnino, former Board of Education president, has sent a letter to the Town Board asking to be considered for an appointment to the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

The Town Board approved a routine resolution enabling it to pierce the state-imposed tax cap in drafting its 2022 budget. The calendar requires that if there is any chance of spending exceeding the cap, such a resolution must be in place. The supervisor’s budget proposal was due to be presented Sept. 30 with an opening discussion at Tuesday’s Town Board work session. But it’s standard practice for some of a supervisor’s recommendations to traditionally be changed by discussions among all members of the Town Board. Only after scrutiny of the budget and changes are made will the Town Board adopt a 2022 spending plan and meetings will take place this month before a budget is approved by the end of the month.

Applications approved

Following public hearings, the Town Board approved:

• A mooring application in West Neck Harbor while giving up two moorings in West Neck Bay. The need for the mooring is to enable places for South Ferry boats to park boats in stormy weather. One of its fleet currently uses a mooring provided by a neighbor. But the current West Neck Bay moorings don’t provide the necessary protection for the boats that South Ferry’s Cliff Clark needs. During major storms, one boat remains at the ferry dock to be used in an emergency such as transporting a patient across the water to connect with an ambulance to reach Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.

• An application from Stephen and Mimi Houston to replace an existing dock and replace it with a new 6-foot by 32-foot floating dock 


In other actions, the Town Board delayed actions on several pending issues for further discussion. They include:

• Changes to the town’s septic requirements

• Action on a fee schedule and licensing of home contractors and landscapers

• A dock application and eight mooring applications sought by Ram’s Head Inn owner Aandrea Carter