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No decision on timing of Shelter Island’s Comprehensive Plan

In line with overwhelming demands from town residents, there will be no adoption of a new Comprehensive Plan prior to the end of the year.

A new administration takes over town government on Jan. 1 with Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams becoming supervisor and Meg Larsen continuing to serve on the Town Board. Former councilman Albert Dickson is now councilman-elect and will be joined by Councilman-elect Benjamin Dyett.

A fifth member needs to be added to continue Ms. Brach-Williams term, until an election is held to fill that role.

Ms. Brach-Williams made it clear prior to the election she thought more time is needed for the Comp Plan draft to ensure it reflects the interests of residents. For months there has been a consistent call to slow the process and not allow the current Town Board, which loses three of its members as of Dec. 31, to make a decision about a plan they see as not ready.

The Comp Plan group expects to hold additional meetings in December, with dates to be determined. But it has also outlined plans for meetings in 2024 on either the fourth Monday or the second Friday of every month.

Among the issues raised at this week’s meeting, there remains a disconnect between some of what a Comprehensive Plan is meant to be. Former Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) member Lily Hoffman raised the issue Monday night when she questioned why there were no studies conducted by the consultants to provide data on some sections of the draft.

Ms. Hoffman is one of three former CPAC members who announced they were resigning at a Sept. 23 public forum. She was joined by Petra Schmidt and Councilman-elect Benjamin Dyett.

“We do not have data,” Ms. Hoffman said, noting three years have been devoted to the process of developing a draft.

Task Force member Councilwoman Meg Larsen said data has informed the draft, including information from the Census, numbers from school officials, Police Department statistics and studies conducted over the past 30 years. But Ms. Larsen added that there is no budget for new studies.

The Comprehensive Plan is meant to be a road map for future Town Boards to use in considering code changes and actions representing input from a wide number of community members. Residents regularly weigh in at Comp Plan meetings and/or offer suggestions and changes by commenting on the town website under the draft chapters of the plan, Ms. Larsen said.

Ms. Hoffman also raised a reference in the draft to creating a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) for the town. She noted she has previously asked that this not be done because of its potential to affect land use as well as waterfront issues.

An LWRP is just too broad, Ms. Hoffman said. Ms. Larsen promised that would be discussed when the group reviews chapter 8 dealing with parks, open space and waterways.

To date, the Comp Plan group has only completed discussions on six of the draft’s 11 chapters. Among the chapters yet to be reviewed are some of those that have been controversial among community members, including zoning.

With a holiday break in December, it would seem likely it would take at least a few months in 2024 for the Task Force and CPAC to complete the review and then a redraft.