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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: May 23, 2024


To the Editor:

Attention all 380 property owners with docks: I attended the May 13 WMAC meeting for another topic and was surprised to hear them discussing the concept of annual inspection and annual fee docks.

The logic presented was that this would address the docks in disrepair. Those of you who know me know I’m pretty intimate with our waterways and I count three docks — less than 1% — that are in disrepair. A property with a dock is already paying higher property taxes than a similar lot without one. There is no need to grow government to handle this. 

The harbormasters, or any resident, needs simply to notify the Building Department since it is responsible for enforcing any violations. The Town Board had tasked the WMAC a while back to look at any problem areas in the Mooring, Dock, and Waterways chapters in code that were problematic, not to look for a new revenue stream. That is the Town Board’s job.

I just wanted to bring this to your attention, since you may want to attend or watch future WMAC meetings so you are alerted as what is being discussed. And for those few docks in disrepair, at least one would require 50% replacement, which triggers a new dock application.

Oh, but since the town has a moratorium on new dock applications, I guess it will just have to stay as is for a while …

PETER S. REICH, Former councilman, Town of Shelter Island


To the Editor:

Georgiana Ketcham, R.I.P., used to call Shelter Island the “un-Hampton.”

She was referring to a place where homes were not overly large and ostentatious. People were not trying to impress one another with how much money they had.

We had almost everything the Hamptons had, except for the ocean beaches, without the traffic and crowds.

Yes, there were the “estate sections” of Dering Harbor and Nostrand, but by and large it was a quaint and special place.

The past few years I have seen a proliferation of gargantuan structures as the older homes on property are destroyed. Most of these are on the waterfront, which is akin to our skyline (you can’t help but see them). They are being built on Coecles Harbor, Silver Beach, Ram Island and other areas of Shelter Island.

Thankfully, the Town Board has enacted a temporary moratorium on construction of houses more than 6,000 square feet. The Town Board appears to be divided on this issue, with Councilmen Dickson and Dyett of the opinion that 6,000 square feet is more than ample for a family. Supervisor Brach-Williams and Councilwoman Larsen (whose family is in the construction business) want to allow larger homes for properties more than two acres.

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you travel around the Island by boat you really notice how out of place these monstrosities are. An election is coming this fall and I think it’s important to break the deadlock that appears to be on the Town Board. Although I’m a registered Republican, I’ve never voted party but always for the person.

This fall I intend to vote for Gordon Gooding, since he seems to appreciate the fragility of what we have here.

JOHN EVANS, Shelter Island


To the Editor:

What could be more important than protecting our wetlands?

An Oct. 13 Suffolk County Supreme Court decision shows why the Town Board must:

1. Take back without further delay the authority to issue wetlands permits the prior Board delegated to the unelected Planning Board (PB).

2. Upgrade the expertise and independence of the PB.

3. Stop trying to limit or avoid environmental review of projects, as well as of the Comprehensive Plan.

The Court invalidated the PB’s greenlighting the construction of a 2,187-square-foot “accessory sleeping structure” in a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area in the environmentally sensitive Near Shore and Peninsular Overlay District (NSPOD). 

It rejected the claim that the proposed structure (designed by the PB’s chair, who recused himself) with 2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, den/office with closets, kitchen, and laundry room was “minor” construction. It found the PB acted arbitrarily, ignored the Town Code section requiring environmental review, and “simply delegated its authority to an engineer who also did not address environmental concerns or impacts.”

The PB’s engineer’s report did not even mention that the property lies in a flood zone and the NSPOD, which prohibits new dwellings within 100 feet of wetlands (where part of the proposed structure encroached).

The court held that the PB violated the Town Code and state environmental law (SEQRA). It compelled a full environmental assessment.

This decision illustrates why the Town Board must have final authority for applications involving the wetlands or NSPOD. It supports Councilman Dickson’s goal of expanding the PB, which needs individuals with environmental and/or planning expertise who lack any financial interest in matters likely to come before it. (Any members who continue ignoring their legal obligations should be replaced.).

Finally, the decision shows that avoiding required environmental review invites unnecessary and costly litigation.

STEPHEN JACOBS, Shelter Island


To the Editor:

Louis felt he was misrepresented (see ‘Untrainable humans and their dogs,’ May 9).

He claims he’s a very good boy. Miss Felix would like a retraction of the accusation that she is a Labradoodle and not a Goldendoodle!

Also, you failed to mention Snoopy. He wants to be sure that he is remembered.

Basically, we are talking about a class-action lawsuit here.

MAYA, ELLEN, JUDITH and CORA ROBEY, Berkeley, Calif. & Reno, Nev.