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Moratorium on demolition enacted in Dering Harbor: Steps taken after controversial teardown

The Dering Harbor Board of Trustees on March 12 enacted a six-month moratorium on demolitions, following the razing of an historic home that spurred outrage among Village residents.

The destruction of the house at 4 Sylvester Road by owner Ken Tropin in early February had been legal, but illustrated the weakness of the Village’s code in preserving historic structures.

The house had been the childhood home of Alice Hench, who later married Andrew Fiske and oversaw their estate, the historic landmark owned by descendants of Shelter Island’s 17th-century European settler Nathaniel Sylvester.

Ms. Fiske promoted the investigation of the Island’s history through archaeological digs at the Manor, and championed cultural and community organizations on the East End.

The vote taken at Saturday’s meeting was the final step to enact the moratorium. At a meeting Feb. 12, the trustees gave the measure their approval, but it needed to be reviewed by the Suffolk County Planning Commission to ensure it was consistent with county codes.

Mayor Patrick Parcells and Village Counsel Wayne Bruyn said they had learned that the commission’s staff was planning to recommend denial, but the Village officials met with the commission to provide further information.

Once informed about the size of the Village, the number of houses potentially affected, the Village’s published design principles, and the existence of a process for approval or denial of an application, the commission unanimously approved the moratorium.

According to the mayor, no applications are currently under consideration.