In an attempt to incentivize rather than mandate green legislation, Southampton Town councilman Chris Nuzzi presented new legislation to board members focusing on solar and geothermal alternative energy sources for homeowners and businesses, which was tabled at last week’s town board meeting. On Friday morning, during a work session at Town Hall, the board discussed the proposed legislation, despite the fact Nuzzi was asked by other board members for more time to consider it and speak to experts in related fields.
“It would give additional opportunity to speak with individuals and members of the green committee and to take comments from them to discuss,” Nuzzi said last week when he thought he would be given two weeks to speak with others.
Nuzzi announced on October 1 that he would be introducing three new resolutions that deal with energy efficiency for town facilities, property tax exemptions for those who implement green technology and increased renewable energy rebates, which was the major topic of discussion at Friday’s work session.
The intent of Nuzzi’s proposed legislation is to change the current legislation to include geothermal as an additional alternative source of energy, a waiver of fees for certain residential subdivision applications and change the rebate from a fixed dollar amount of $2,500 to 10 percent of the cost to the property owner — not to exceed $5,000.
“I applaud Nuzzi for what he is trying to do,” town supervisor Linda Kabot said on Friday, “But we may have to tighten things up.”
“The give back here might be too significant and that’s what we need to talk about,” she added.
Kabot explained that the current rebates come from surcharges on the building permits from the building and zoning departments, and are set aside as a capital reserve. She further explained that there is about $50,000 in this fund, which would only be enough for 16 applicants at $2,500 each. If the board adopts Nuzzi’s legislation, the amount would have to be increased to upwards of $80,000.
“What I suggest,” Kabot said, “is that we look at what we are really trying to incentivize and not over-insentivize.”
Kabot said that a few weeks ago she and Michael Benincasa went through all the applicants since the rebate program’s inception and found that there has been 51. And of those applicants, 39 were applying for houses under 3,500 square feet.
“This is the working guy, the guy looking to save money,” Kabot said. “They are making the investment and coming forward to get these rebates.”
“I plan on preceding forward on the legislation, and allow for as much input as possible,” Nuzzi said.
The board is expected to table the resolution again, and revisit it next month.
“This is almost there, we all need to get to the same page with good information so that we can adopt in December and in January, we can hopefully enact this legislation,” Kabot said