10/30/13 8:15am

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | At Tuesday’s work session, the Town Board discussed changes for the Deer and Tick Committee. A work session in November will feature a review of the town’s policy on hunting.

The Town Board made some decisions at its work session Tuesday on deer management.

The board addressed Supervisor Jim Dougherty’s request to look at the function and charge of the Town Deer and Tick Committee and Councilman Ed Brown’s call for a review of all aspects of the town’s deer management program.

With the unexpected resignation of Patricia Shillingburg as the chairwoman of the committee two weeks ago, Mr. Dougherty said then it was an opportunity to “re-cast the function of the group” and “make it a real, positive, constrictive force.”

The 2005 board resolution that set up the committee charged it with promoting public education and ranges from how to “minimize exposure to ticks and dealing with tick bites” to how to reduce the deer herd through hunting and setting up 4-poster units, the stands that puts insecticide on feeding deer.

All members agreed the committee is achieving the goal of educating the public on the dangers of ticks. But Police Department Chief Jim Read, who leads the town’s efforts in culling the deer herd, said the committee should place emphasis on the deer management section of its duties.

“The focus has become ticks, and we really want to say to the committee, ‘Hey, look, we need to get back on the deer part of the charge.”

When the committee was formed eight years ago there were 11 members, which now has dwindled to five, with only three active members, according to Jennifer Zacha, a police department employee who has worked with Chief Read on deer management for the town.

“We’ve done a better job reducing [the committee’s] population than the deer,” Councilman Paul Shepherd said with a smile.

Efforts were needed to get more volunteers on the committee, members agreed, but 11 volunteers would be unwieldy, Councilman Peter Reich said. Supervisor Dougherty recommended seven, which “gives an opportunity for more community participation.”

Chief Read suggested Ms. Zacha chair the committee, even though she’s a paid employee of the town. Mr. Dougherty said the appointment would be considered.

A review of the town’s deer management program has been set for the work session of Tuesday, November 19 at the request of Mr. Brown. He said all aspects of the effort should be aired where the public can weigh in with questions and suggestions.

Whether Shelter Island should become part of a regional effort to reduce deer herds and control ticks was up for discussion after an invitation was received to attend a meeting in Riverhead on the matter.

Supervisor Dougherty said the invitation came from Long Island Farm Bureau Director Joe Gergela to meet with other municipalities to discus the issue. Mr. Dougherty said he was told that to participate in the regional organization would cost $30,000.

“That 30,000,” Mr. Brown said, “is for what?”

“I have no idea,” Mr. Dougherty said.

Chief Read said he was not an “isolationist” and believed in partnerships with other municipalities, “but $30,000 sounds like we could put that to better use.”

He noted that Shelter Island was “already well ahead of the curve in comparison to these other towns. Lots of towns are looking to us for guidance.”

Mr. Reich said a better question to the newly formed organization would be to ask each municipality how much money they had already spent on deer management and tick control.

It was decided that since the regional meeting was Wednesday, November 6, at the same time as budget hearings, no board member could attend, but Ms. Zacha would represent the town would go report on the proceedings.

In other business, Town Attorney Laury Dowd gave the board a report on its solid waste management plan. This is a state-mandated document that must be made every 10 years that outlining the management, handling and disposal of refuse by a municipality.

At future work sessions the board will discuss the plan and can modify it before submitting a final draft for public comment. Then it goes to the New York State Department of Conservation, which reviews it for technical completeness. The Town Board then adopts the plan as its guide for the next decade.

05/31/13 10:23am

Representatives of Sylvester Manor went before the Town Board last week to ask for help.

The Manor has been moving forward rapidly over the last several months, with big ambitions and eager to take a place in the spotlight. The opening of the Sylvester Manor archives at an impressive exhibition hosted by New York University gave the Manor a morale boost and exposure to the wider world. With the prestigious opening at NYU came news that Eben Fiske Ostby, the Manor’s owner, is donating the historic house and grounds to the nonprofit Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, with the deal slated to be completed by the end of the year.

This builds on the momentum established last year when Mr. Ostby donated more than 83 acres of land to the educational farm. Under the direction of founder and special projects adviser, Bennett Konesni, and Executive Director Cara Loriz, the Manor has set in motion what they call a mission “to cultivate, preserve and share the lands, buildings and stories of Sylvester Manor.” This breaks down to organic farming, historic preservation and exploration, while running programs that educate the public on land conservation, the history of the Manor and showcasing local artists and talents.

According to Manor officials, the big ideas are far from castles in the air but solid strategies generating practical benefits to the Island. The plans for expansion have translated into more than $400,000 flowing in to the local economy, with business services, local contractors and residents’ salaries contributing to that figure.

To further the mission described by the Manor representatives, housing is needed for staff and program participants. Space is also needed for teaching and a Suffolk County Health Services-approved kitchen is required.

There’s just one problem, which is why Ms. Loriz and Mr. Konesni went before the Town Board. It’s simple, really, as Ms. Loriz put it: “Sylvester Manor is treated as a single residential property, which limits what we can do. While zoned residential, we are not a residence.”

The Manor has two options to pursue to reach its goals, Ms. Loriz told the board: Either subdivide or receive what’s called a “zoning overlay.”

Subdividing the property would be a disaster for the Manor and Shelter Island, Ms. Loriz said, and we agree. Subdivision means sprawl, building in forests with some trees dating back to the 18th century and putting other construction in view of public roads.

A zoning overlay is a flexible tool a municipality can chose to protect specific areas and encourage a certain kind of development while putting up stop signs to other development. The Shelter Island Town Board has the right to trigger a zoning overlay for the Manor and should.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty — a tireless champion of the Manor — and other board members voiced no opposition to the request at this preliminary hearing. Mr. Dougherty suggested that Manor representatives keep the board apprised of specific plans, which is also something the Reporter believes is a sound idea.

Our heritage, and educating our residents with living lessons from the past, must be preserved now and for future generations, and a zoning overlay is one step to attain that goal.

05/30/13 1:13pm

PETER BOODY PHOTO | The newly created Shelter Island Town emblem was created by boards secretary Danielle LiCausi in 2011 replacing an original flag that had been dedicated in 1983. Here Supervisor Jim Dougherty (standing), Councilman Peter Reich (right) and former Councilman Glenn Waddington unveiled the new emblem.

Rare clash over money and staffing for landfill

With the political season drawing near and municipalities everywhere dealing with revenue shortfalls, things got testy at Town Hall in late May 2003. Then Supervisor Art Williams and Highway Department Superintendent Mark Ketcham clashed over the issues of productivity and efficiency. Mr. Ketcham was arguing for a 15th crew member that had been promised when the budget was drafted. Mr. Williams wanted to wait to assess what revenues were being generated by the landfill operation. Councilman Ed Brown joined the argument, mentioning young people on the Island who need jobs. Mr. Williams argued that the budget called for adding another worker in the second half of the year, but he said landfill revenues were “off dramatically” and hiring should be delayed. Mr. Ketcham blamed bad weather and higher tipping fees for the declining revenues.
POSTSCRIPT: The issues may be different today, but there’s apparently something about spring that gives way to heated Town Board arguments as Supervisor Jim Dougherty and Councilman Paul Shepherd, whose tempers simmered throughout a May Town Board meeting and  erupted  during the “around the table.”

Board needs fifth vote to move on affordable housing

With the January 1993 death of Ccouncilman Lou Price, the Town Board was left with a four-member split opinion on the future of affordable housing for Shelter Island. Then Supervisor Hoot Sherman and Councilman George Chimenti favored building six houses while Councilmen Alfred Kilb J. and Hal McGee favored a four-house development on Bowditch Road. Mr. Chimenti tried for a five-house compromise until Mr. Sherman suggested back-burnering the issue until a new Town Board could be seated as a result of the November 1993 election.
POSTSCRIPT: It took some doing, but eventually, a six-house development was constructed and last year, the Reporter followed up with residents, learning that all the original owners were still living in the houses, but many had undergone structural expansions as their financial fortunes enabled them to add to the houses that had been built.

Visitors jam the Island on weekend

The headline might well come from any Memorial Day issue of the Reporter. But what made the June 2, 1983, celebration special was the dedication and flying of the new town flag at Town Hall. Supervisor Mal Nevel issued a proclamation officially adopting the seal on the flag. The seal depicted Indian Chief Pogatticut in his canoe.
POSTSCRIPT: To everything there is a season and the flag unveiled in 1983 had seen many seasons. By 2011, the aging banner was always falling from the wall where it had been mounted. A new town emblem painted by Danielle LiCausi, secretary to the boards, was unveiled The work is on plywood and follows the same general design as the flag, but  its execution is finer than what Councilman Peter Reich said was a coarsely executed image of a Native American paddling a canoe on the original flag.

Town adopts licensing of plumbers, electricians

Shelter Island’s streak of independence runs deep and in 1971 the town had rescinded a requirement that plumbers and electricians doing business here didn’t have to be licensed by Suffolk County. But 40 years ago, in the spring of 1973, moved by arguments that those hiring such workers had no way of knowing their qualifications, the Town Board finally rescinded its ban on licensing, joining every other municipality in Suffolk County in requiring licensing.
POSTSCRIPT: The argument against ‘dark skies legislation’ festering today among Town Board members is another sign of that famous Island independent streak that eschews regulation. While some argue that such legislation is designed to protect the few with neighbors who aren’t considerate, others see it as an infringement of their freedom to do as they please with their property.

05/22/13 12:34pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Shelter Island Town Hall

A new draft of the proposed ‘dark skies’ law was discussed by the Town Board at Tuesday’s work session.

The proposed law would regulate both commercial and residential lighting fixtures. Drafted by Town Attorney Laury Dowd at the request of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the issue has been hotly debated among board members and the public for months.

Last week changes were asked for and Tuesday the board looked at the legislation again, with Councilwoman Christine Lewis noting that some of Councilman Paul Shepherd’s suggestions, such as deleting language setting out the purposes of the law, had been deleted.

Mr. Shepherd said he had not had a chance to study the new draft since it had been given to him only a few hours before the meeting, but he took issue with the enforcement and penalties section of the law, saying they were too severe.

“We’re talking about lighting, not larceny,” Mr. Shepherd said.

Resident Barbara Allen said the new lighting law was too extreme and asked how it would be enforced, which has been a sticking point for those against regulations. “It would be putting something on the books that will be unenforceable,” Ms. Allen said.
She also pointed out, as several people have before, that there have only been four complaints in a decade for excessive lighting.

Resident Karen Kiaer said she’d been afraid to call the police for different reasons and chronicled problems with neighbors. She said that simply because people don’t call doesn’t mean they don’t have problems. Others have noted that many people don’t call the authorities because their complaints have no leverage with no law to back them up.

Mr. Shepherd wondered again if there was a rush to discuss the issue before he had time to fully formulate his thoughts, where other members were on board with the new draft “before you even looked at it.”

“That’s not true,” Mr. Dougherty said. “It’s a very, very rude statement.”

Mr. Shepherd, discussing a section of the draft that defines “”fully shielded” light fixtures termed it confusing.

On the issue of cost to residents to switch to legally sanctioned fixtures, resident Paulette Van Vranken said the cost was not prohibitive .

Later in the discussion, Ms. Lewis addressed Mr. Shepherd by saying compromise “is how we make it through the day in government.”

Mr. Shepherd said he understood, “But I have to be a little careful on what I compromise on.”

Councilman Ed Brown asked Ms. Lewis if she’d “compromise the policy as opposed to the law?”

Ms. Lewis said she wouldn’t.

In other business, the board heard from representatives of Sylvester Manor on the possibility of a zoning overlay. Executive Director Cara Loriz told the board, “Sylvester Manor is treated as a single residential property, which limits what we can do. While zoned residential, we are not a residence.”

The Manor’s mission, which was spelled out by Ms. Loriz and Bennett Konesni, founder and special projects adviser, is to cultivate the land and structures and become a teaching center on the importance of “culture, food and place.”
Plans are to create housing for a staff, space for classes and a county health department-approved kitchen.

The problem is without a special permit approval from the town, there’s no possibility under current zoning for the Manor to achieve its goals, Ms. Loriz and Mr. Konesni said. With residential zoning, the only solution would be to subdivide. And subdivision would produce sprawl, require building in the woods or close to roads.

A zoning overlay would solve the problem, according to the Manor’s representatives. Timing was important, Ms. Loriz said, since “this is a key moment for us” with the manor seeing a healthy increase in its donor base and many programs on tap.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty noted that it seemed the board was in agreement, but wanted to see strategic plans as they developed.
Scott Cooper, an account executive with Fireworks by Grucci, took questions from the board about a permit to have a fireworks show for a private party at Crescent Beach the evening of June 14. The show would be 10 minutes in duration. Police Chief James Read said the road world be closed during the event, and about 10 cars would have to be moved from parking spaces. There would be a police officer on duty three hours before the show and one hour after and the department would charge the applicant for their services. Sound would not be an issue, since the fireworks used have often been set off indoors, Mr. Cooper said. Fire chief John

D’Amato said he had “no issues” with the proposed display.

The board again heard from representatives of Zach Vella on his ambitious expansion of Herrmann’s Castle on Shore Road. The plan has been before the board several times. Tuesday the owner, represented by Guillermo Gomez, Mr. Vella’s architect and Kieran Pape Murphree, a Sag Harbor Attorney, agreed to all conditions the board had asked for, including reducing the number of bathrooms from 14 to nine, cutting square footage on living spaces, changing 81 percent of patio to pervious materials and removing a stone wall and berm from the plans.

It’s not budget season, but the board was already wrestling with schedules. Town computer consultant Ted Jones had written to the board with suggestions to streamline the budgeting process. When Councilman Peter Reich tried to make suggestions, Councilman Brown said Mr. Reich “was usurping” some control from him and Supervisor Dougherty, who are members of the town’s finance committee.

“If you don’t want us on the committee you’ll have a chance to vote against us at” the January organizations meeting, Mr. Brown said. “Let us work as a committee.”

“You still want outside suggestions?” Mr. Reich asked.

Mr. Brown said suggestions were welcome.

05/06/13 10:00am


To the Editor:

As you may know, Superstorm Sandy knocked out one of LIPA’s two distribution cables from the North Fork. Shelter Island essentially depends on these cables for our electrical service. (There is a cable from the South Fork but it has very limited capability.) This presents very severe challenges for Shelter Island as the hurricane season approaches. Should this single, very old, remaining cable be knocked out, Shelter Island could be without power for an extended period of time, depending almost entirely on the very limited resources of generators.

LIPA has budgeted $9 million to install a new, upgraded cable from the North Fork, commencing work this week. They will work 12 hour days, seven days a week to get the job done as soon as possible. They are estimating a late June completion date but this, of course, is subject to many variables and contingencies.

Unfortunately the work has to be done to give Shelter Island any reasonable chance of getting through the hurricane season without Island-wide loss of electrical power for extended periods of time. At our urging, LIPA, National Grid and the contractor they have awarded the bid to — Voritech — have been working together night and day to complete the paperwork, field surveys and prep work to get this inconvenience behind us as soon as possible.

Nonetheless, this work will involve inconvenience for all of us — the temporary price we unfortunately have to pay for the long term benefit. We deeply appreciate your understanding and patience.

The town’s manager for the project is Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card. Town Board members as well as Emergency Management Coordinator  Jim Read  are available as well to try to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation in this very essential emergency project for Shelter Island.

Supervisor, Town of Shelter Island

Our interest

To the Editor:

Would it not be great for Shelter Islanders if we could get even more out of the LIPA project to install a cable from Greenport to Shelter Island? For instance, perhaps Verizon could negotiate with Optimum to piggyback on that cable to bring FIOS to the Island. This would be in our interest as it might break the near monopoly that Cablevision has on the Island. There may be other services that could also be brought to the Island in conjunction with LIPA’s under-the-bay connection.

Shelter Island

Fixing the problem

To the Editor:

I would like to thank the ZBA for listening to the North Cartwright community on April 24 in regard to the Stamberg/Aferiat variance. It can’t be easy to sit on the other side of the table and hear all the complaints.
To set the record straight, we were shocked to hear this month that the owner/architects of the property at 60 North Cartwright had deliberately violated their building permit, submitting plans for one structure while building another to skirt our zoning codes. Stamberg/Aferiat, who are licensed architects, were also renting the property out without a certificate of occupancy. In June 2012 their poor renters were thrown out on the street when the building department issued an order to vacate.

On April 15 Elizabeth and Bill Pedersen proposed a plan to mediate the situation. I canvassed the neighbors and got an overwhelmingly positive response. The proposal was and still is:

• Repaint the house in keeping with historic Eeltown.

• Landscape on north, south and west sides to create a green buffer zone.

• Deal with acoustic issues stemming from metal fabrication.

While there is no architectural review board and the ZBA cannot mandate changes such as these, I would like it to be known that a hand was extended even in the face of such duplicity. We would ask the ZBA to deny this variance but would be willing to revisit the issue with the above considerations as part of the deal. We would like to give a little and get a little. The neighborhood really does want to work it out so there is a win/win.

Shelter Island

Who’s a neighbor?

To the Editor:

With regards to your online article about the April 24 ZBA meeting, I’d like to clarify one point.
You state, “But while several neighbors wrote letters in support of the application, more showed up at Town Hall Wednesday night to argue that Mr. Stamberg and Mr. Aferiat haven’t been good neighbors.”

All the letters in favor of the variance, save one, are from people who are not neighbors, do not reside in the neighborhood and who are not directly involved or affected by the issues at stake. Heck, my cousin in California is against granting a variance but since he’s not a part of this neighborhood, I declined his offer of a letter. I prefer not to waste the ZBA’s time.

Shelter Island

Rural is as rural does

To the Editor:

The Reporter in last week’s editorial somehow drew parallels between the new irrigation regulations and the proposed dark skies code. It was a comparison of apples and oranges. No, make that apples and beer nuts. It is that different.

The irrigation law is meant to protect our common water supply. We all drink from the same aquifer. The primary purpose of all laws is to protect our health and safety, while ensuring that we can all live our lives as freely as possible. This is why our legislatures, at all levels of government, take an oath of office to support the Constitution of the U.S.A.

On the other hand, the dark skies code is a “designer law.” It is a law that is custom-tailored for the sensibilities and aesthetic values of a few people who have the ear of one or two elected officials. The problem is that this law does not promote our common health and safety. But it will be imposed on all of us eventually; complete with hefty fines if you do not comply with the strict and complex code.

Dark skies is a law that is simply meant to control us, not to protect us. Of all of the reasons given for dark skies, I haven’t heard any that are substantial enough that justify being less free in our own homes, on our own property.

One argument that was made at a work session is that dark skies will keep Shelter Island “rural.” But “rural” should be defined as being able to live your life as you see fit, not as others think you should. There should be less restrictive codes and forced conformity than suburban or urban environs.

Rural life embraces both the liberty of the individual and a community spirit. Those who represent the community must always respect the rights of each and every citizen, first and foremost, in all that they say and do.

On a recent WLNG call-in show, I asked Supervisor Dougherty why dark skies needs to be a law at all. I suggested that voluntary compliance could be encouraged with a tax discount incentive. Mr. Dougherty replied that the rich folk would ignore this deal. One reason that the rich are rich is because they take advantage of every tax loophole that they can find. Given the supervisor’s background, he certainly should know this.

If this law is really meant for the mega-mansions, then target the rich. But that might be unconstitutional. We don’t need a blanket law to solve what is not a problem for the majority of residents here.

Shelter Island

Student art on display

To the Editor:

Congratulations to Stephanie Sareyani and the students of the Shelter Island School for the wonderful display of talent and imagination shown in the 3rd annual Student Art Show at the library. The Friends of the Shelter Island Library sponsored the opening reception on Friday night and for all of those who were not able to attend, the exhibit will be in place through May. Unfortunately the free-standing and ceramic pieces had to be removed since the community room tables are in great demand on a daily basis. We hope to display these pieces in the display case upstairs at a later date.

Please visit the show before the end of May!

Chair, The Friends of the
Shelter Island Public Library

Goody, goody

To the Editor:
Thank you to the anonymous donor of “The Classic Hoagy Carmichael” 3-cassette boxed set with booklet; “The American Woman’s Cook Book” published in 1945, which includes a recipe for Sausages & Corn Au Gratin (no thanks but what an interesting collection of cookery); and “Mrs. Beeton’s All About Cookery,” Fourteenth Impression, 1971 (how to dress a chicken after it’s been plucked and other instructions). Hours of pleasurable reading and listening.
Long live the goody pile!

Shelter Island