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Wetlands and fertilizer use discussed by Town Board: Protecting a fragile Shelter Island ecosystem

On a major issue facing the town Board — returning final decisions on wetlands applications to the Town Board from the Planning Board — Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams said there is work to be done deciding on procedures for the reversal.

Since the Planning Board took over the decisions, its engineer reviewed applications for completeness before the Planning Board reviewed them.

Perhaps the engineer should continue to make the decision on whether applications are complete, Ms. Brach-Williams said. Alternatively, the town might engage the Water Mill-based Raynor Group of civil engineers to handle that assessment, she said.

Councilwoman Meg Larsen, the one dissenting voice to returning final decisions to the Town Board, asked her colleagues if they feel capable of handling final decisions, but didn’t get a clear answer.

Fertilizer legislation

A brief discussion ensued about whether the town’s draft legislation limiting fertilizer use should include a provision requiring soil tests before application.

Ms. Brach-Williams said that in conversations with landscapers she was told tests conducted by laboratories in other areas might not reflect results germane to Shelter Island. The test might show a much greater amount of fertilizer should be applied, when half that amount would be sufficient for the Island.

Since the majority of fertilizer use on the Island is applied by licensed landscapers, who were already conducting soil tests here, the legislation might be aimed at only a few.

Water Advisory Committee member Lisa Shaw, who has been leading the fertilizer subcommittee, said some aspects of the draft legislation were drawn from other areas, including Massachusetts. Whether it’s effective here remains to be determined.

Ms. Brach-Williams said she hopes the legislation can be finalized to allow scheduling a date for a public hearing when the Town Board meets in regular session on April 15. The hearing would likely be set for May 6.