Tag Archive | "Chris Nuzzi"

Town changes “Green” Pool Codes

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January 1, 2009 was supposed to be the date that all heated swimming pools in the Town of Southampton were required by law to use solar power as the major source of heat in an effort to reduce residents’ energy consumption.
Last Friday, that original legislation was changed, however. Now, all residents with heated swimming pools are not mandated to have solar power as the main energy component. Instead they will have to make other changes to conform to the new regulations, which include use of items such as energy efficient pipes, pumps and covers.
After numerous work sessions with members of the Pool and Spa Association and members of Southampton Town’s green committee, the town board unanimously adopted the new legislation at a regular board meeting on Friday giving pool industry professionals alternative options for reducing energy, effective January 1, 2009.
The new legislation, sponsored by councilwoman, Nancy Graboski, states that the intent of the law is to provide a more comprehensive program “obtaining efficiencies beyond the mere measure of pool heating” which, it said, “will have a far greater impact on energy than a solar heating mandate.”
The new requirements for pools constructed or reconstructed after January 1, include use of piping at least two inches in diameter and sweeping elbows instead of right-angle pipes. Also, pumps installed after the effective date must be determined by the size of the pool — the bigger the pool, the more stringent the requirement.
In terms of the heating component, the new legislation states that pool heaters must meet minimum energy efficiency requirements as set by the United States Department of Energy. Also, continuously burning pilot lights are prohibited and all heated outdoor pools built or reconstructed after January 1 must have covers that cover the surface of the pool when it is not in use.
According to Sheryl Heather of the Sustainable Southampton Advisory Committee — the town’s green committee — 322 pool permits were issued for the year as of November 7, 2008.
In July, the town board voted in favor of what some called the “strictest energy codes in the country,” in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of town residents. Those regulations included a tiered proposal for new and substantially renovated energy star rated homes as well as the solar mandate for heated pools.
The Southampton Town Board back-peddled on the original legislation, however, and decided in the fall to implement less stringent energy requirements for homes. The legislation regarding swimming pools has also been reduced in stringency from its original content.
Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, who was the sponsor for the original legislation on energy standards of both homes and pools, is not certain this was the right move.
“Anything that helps reduce our carbon footprint is a positive,” Throne-Holst said on Friday. But, she added, she still feels the original legislation was good.
“The pool industry people simply were not ready to make that change and to start re-tooling for solar powering,” Throne-Holst said. “It’s a leap that I guess we just weren’t ready to make yet.”
The councilwoman also said that she believes the board may look back at this move and think twice about the decision.
“I think we will see what is happening on a federal level and see that we were a small step ahead,” she added.
John Tortorella, owner of J. Tortorella Custom Gunite Pools, sat on a committee which he said helped to come up with the new legislation.
“The town left it up to us,” Tortorella said on Tuesday. The committee, he said, was made up of a few people from eastern Long Island in conjunction with the Pool and Spa Association.
“For us, there is no change at all,” he said and added that his business has already incorporated these regulations into their pool design, as did other large pool companies. But the new legislation may affect smaller pool companies.
The cost to a homeowner considering building or renovating a pool, according to Tortorella, could be between $1,500 and $2,200 for these additional requirements.
Councilman Chris Nuzzi, a co-sponsor of the new legislation, believes it is a good compromise for the residents and pool industry professionals.
“We did now what should have happened in the first place,” Nuzzi said on Monday, “and that was to involve the professionals in the industry and come forward with energy efficient ways to construct it [the legislation].”
“Instead of mandating for solar, I still believe we should provide incentives,” said Nuzzi who currently has a form of incentive legislation on the table for the New Year, which would offer rebates to consumers who use alternative energy sources.
“Let’s partner with the community and not over regulate and that is how we will be successful,” he said.
“I think we are going to have to be cognizant with the green legislations,” he continued, “We still have to see what works and what doesn’t.”

Town to Lead by a “green” example

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With the implementation of new green legislation for residential homes, which began on October 1 of this year, the Town of Southampton was both widely criticized and highly praised in their efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of their residents. Now the Southampton Town Board is working hard on implementing councilman Chris Nuzzi’s proposed legislation to lead by example, and require changes for greener town buildings.
Southampton Town board members met with the Sustainable Southampton Advisory Committee (Town Green Committee) last week to talk about Nuzzi’s proposed green legislation, which, if adopted, would allow more money for rebates, property tax exemptions and a reduction in energy consumption for the municipality.
At Friday’s work session, the latter was the primary topic of conversation. The Green Committee’s Paul Rogers said the committee needed more time and resources to get the kind of information that would be required for an audit of the town’s facilities, but on Friday said the committee could begin by looking at town vehicles as well as six buildings that use more energy — Southampton Town Hall, the Town Animal Shelter, the Parks and Recreation building, the Town Police Headquarters, East Quogue Village Green and the Central Garage and Maintenance Shop.
Kabot explained that the town’s principal planner, Janice Scherer, has been asked to help with the audit because the board felt she would be the best person to compile the data and put the information into legible data sheets. Scherer noted that the audit would require a great deal of work, however, and said that she would need someone to help her complete the task.
“Its not easy to gather this information,” Scherer said on Friday. “We would have to gather all the information from the facilities and the vehicles they are using to include in the report.”
Kabot suggested that if Scherer asked someone from a lower level in the planning department to assist, then Scherer could check that person’s work. With a decrease in the number of building permits currently coming into the office, Kabot felt Scherer would be able to commit to the analysis on a part time basis and objected to adding a new full time employee to help with the audit.
In addition to the audit, Kabot reminded that the board had been criticized in the past for getting into people’s backyards — especially with the recent green energy legislation proposing a mandate on solar heating for pools. The green legislation proposed by Nuzzi may include some community outreach and forums to educate the public.
“There may be more urgency to this, given the energy crunch and the current economic crisis,” councilwoman Nancy Graboski said. “The community may be expecting that in government buildings we do what we can to save for governmental expenses.”
Once the Southampton Town Green Committee finishes the energy audit, the findings will become part of Nuzzi’s proposed legislation. Graboski said she expects the audit would be complete in the spring.

More incentives for Green Legislation in Southampton Town

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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

Law Would Offer Green Incentives

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Despite the fact that Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi was the only board member who voted against new green energy legislation presented by fellow board member, Anna Throne-Holst back in July, he has recently created new legislation, which, if enacted, will incentivize — rather than mandate — green living practices.
Nuzzi announced that he will be releasing three resolutions at next week’s town board meeting on October 14. The three pieces of legislation he is preparing to present deal with energy efficiency for town facilities, property tax exemptions for those who implement green technology and increasing renewable energy rebates.
“The expansion of town rebates, property tax exemptions, and current rebates from the Long Island Power Authority, along with both federal and state tax credits, makes renewable energy alternatives a more realistic option for everyone in our community looking to lower their utility bills and their dependence on fossil fuels,” Nuzzi said.
The town implemented its new energy codes this month, which mandate that houses meet a minimum home Energy Star rating score depending on size. The town is still considering a portion of the legislation, which will mandate the use of solar heating for swimming pools.
“I am pleased to bring forth legislation that encourages consumers to invest in alternative energy sources through incentives and the reduction of burdensome property taxes,” Nuzzi said.
The legislation sponsored by Throne-Holst introduced some of the strictest green laws in the country. Throne-Holst explained that even though homeowners can get rebates from LIPA for installing energy saving measures, there are other considerable state and federal rebates that will encourage people to want to update their homes to the Energy Star requirements. She believes that the combination of incentives and mandates will help reduce the carbon footprint of Southampton Town.
With the tentative town budget calling for a five percent increase in property taxes, if enacted, Nuzzi’s legislation may help homeowners reduce their property tax through incentives for those who are opting to have alternative technologies to reduce energy consumption.
The Town of Southampton already has an incentive program for those who install solar electric systems on their homes, which Nuzzi proposes to amend to include geothermal systems. He also proposes raising the rebate amount for town residents who install these systems from $2,500 to a maximum of $5,000.
Nuzzi is also requesting legislation on a state level that will authorize a real property tax exemption for solar and/or geothermal system improvements made on both residential and commercial structures by recognizing an alternative energy adjustment on the town tax bill.
In addition to the property tax reduction and the increase in rebates, Nuzzi has also said that he recognizes the importance of the town leading by example in the field of reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Nuzzi will present resolutions to direct the town’s department of general services to solicit proposals to review the energy consumption of town facilities and make recommendations on energy efficiency as well as implement strategies that focus on using alternative energy sources.
“Municipal governments throughout Long Island are some of the largest consumers of energy,” Nuzzi said. “It is our responsibility to lead by example. We need to incorporate renewable energy sources into both existing and new town facilities and this will help provide the blueprint.”
Nuzzi is asking for an audit to be completed with an energy consultant to review Southampton Town’s energy use and make recommendations for alternative methods.
“The decision to make a world of change can start right here in our community,” said Nuzzi.

Finance Talk Takes Backseat To Bickering

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Last Friday the Southampton Town Board met to go over the financial state of the town. While it was revealed that the town is looking at a $2.9 million-deficit in the general fund, what generated the most discussion was a last minute special meeting called by supervisor Linda Kabot.
Shortly after town attorney Kathleen Murray began briefing the board on the subject of the special meeting, councilman Chris Nuzzi asked how such a substantial discussion could just appear on a work session agenda. Kabot responded, “Because I’m the supervisor and I can put resolutions on special meeting notices.”
The meeting in question was called to adopt a public hearing on a resolution concerning vacant seats on the town board. It was essentially a carry over from earlier in the year, when the issue arose as Kabot’s town board seat was left empty after she won the supervisor spot in last November’s election.
A public hearing was held on the resolution back in February, which at that time stated the town “may” consider a special election to fill a vacant seat rather than appoint. The sticking point though was whether the town or Suffolk County would absorb the cost. Ultimately the resolution was not adopted and Republican Dan Russo was appointed to fill Kabot’s vacant seat.
“What usually happens with an item like this,” said Nuzzi, “is a phone call or a memo.”
Kabot informed Nuzzi that the subject had been discussed at a previous work session that he was unable to attend. Nuzzi then asked “which of the 2,420 work sessions” held this year was that.
Kabot explained that the decision to call the special meeting was based around time constraints. The new law, in order to appear on the ballot in this November’s election, must be adopted by September 4. She also explained that the special meeting was simply to adopt a date for a public hearing where the issue could be further vetted.
“I think the point Chris [Nuzzi] is trying to make is we’re being asked to hold a work session and immediately vote on a public hearing, which immediately eliminates a discussion among all of us,” said councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst.
“Well what kind of discussion would you like to have? That’s what work sessions are about,” said Kabot.
“In this case the work session has come with a resolution in front of us and expectation we vote on it an hour later,” responded Throne-Holst.
Kabot made it clear that there was no pressing need to set a public hearing or to even have the law on the November ballot. She said she had no problem putting it off until next year.
“I’m not going to pressure anybody to favorably vote on something,” said Kabot. “At the end of the day anything like this needs voter approval, and I was trying to meet time constraints.”
“Don’t worry so much about the headlines [in the paper],” said Nuzzi. “Worry about the issue.”
“I’m not here running around looking for headlines, and I really resent that statement,” said Kabot. “What I did not do correctly, was vet this out with the entire board.”
“The point is we need to have a formal process,” said Throne-Holst. “Frankly what should have happened, because of the timeline, is this should have been discussed months ago.”
Ultimately, the special meeting was called to order and Kabot withdrew the resolution.
As for the financial health of the town, independent auditing firm, Albrecht, Viggiano, Zureck and Company, presented the municipality’s 2007 financial statements and reported on the balances of the town’s major funds.
The town’s police fund deficit grew from $4 million to over $4.5 million at year-end 2007, the highway fund deficit grew to $669,567 at year end 2007 and the waste management enterprise fund deficit grew to over $2 million at year end 2007.
The auditors also disclosed that the town has negative fund balances in certain special districts, including the Hampton Bays Water District at approximately $215,000 as of December 31, 2007. Year End deficits in lesser amounts are also present in the Hampton Bays Public Parking District, Bridgehampton Public Parking District, Noyac Fire Protection District, and Bay Point Fire Protection District.
Kabot stated, “Working with the town board, I am committed to steering the town toward greater fiscal well-being.”
She said that over the next several weeks, she will be meeting with department heads to review the 2007 audited figures for each cost center and the current status of the 2008 budget, in order to prepare the 2009 budget with an eye towards tightening up expenses and streamlining operations.

Houses Green By October

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The word of the evening at Southampton Town Hall on Tuesday was “tweak,” as the town board decided to incorporate energy conservation standards into its building code. Specifically the law, which was adopted by a four to one vote, mandates all new residential buildings and substantial reconstructions meet New York State Energy Star guidelines, and that all heated swimming pools be solar powered. In a letter of support, Long Island Power Authority CEO Kevin Law described the new law, which takes effect October 1, as going “beyond parameters of previously adopted codes.” Law called it the “strongest initiative of its type in the state.”
It was the second public hearing on the law that was pioneered by councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst and when time came to make the motion to either close or adjourn the hearing, she weighed in.
“My mother had a lot of favorite expressions,” she began. “One was consider the source — let’s consider the source of what we’re hearing tonight and really think about that.”
The hearing included testimony from oil men, pool guys and environmental advocates, some of whom supported the law as written and some who wanted to see a little “tweaking.”
“We’re not telling people they can’t build big houses or heat their pools, we’re just telling them they need to do it responsibly,” she said. “Rather than going on and on, tabling and re-tabling, we can do something that really matters tonight, but with a commitment to keep tweaking.”
Throne-Holst said it was an opportunity to avoid the past accusations of being a board that is “sitting in the lap of the developers, letting big home builders go ahead without taking responsibility for the little people.”
Councilman Dan Russo said he was also in favor of closing the hearing.
“In the short time I’ve been here it’s dawned on me that we take mundane legislation and tweak it to death,” said Russo. “We’re in the grips of energy crisis. Let’s take the leap of faith and tweak it down the road if we need to. Let’s get this done tonight.”
Council members Nancy Graboski and Chris Nuzzi both opposed closing the hearing and each cited testimony from audience members and concerns that the law needed more “tweaking.” Supervisor Linda Kabot, though, voted in favor to close the hearing and made the motion to adopt. Graboski ended up voting in favor of the resolution but with reservation, while Nuzzi said he had to submit a “vote of conscience” and remain in opposition. Though she voted in its favor, Kabot addressed her “mixed feelings” concerning the law.
“Everyone knows me as someone who is a stickler for procedural compliance, as being very [detail oriented]. I will be voting in favor,” said the supervisor. “I want to make sure we send a message of being on the cutting edge, of being progressive. I don’t want a vote of form over substance. However there are many concerns and going forward we may need to tweak this.”
The many references to “tweaking” the law highlighted just how progressive it really is. So far eight other towns on Long Island, including Islip, Brookhaven and Oyster Bay, have adopted similar laws but none as stringent. The main difference is a tiered approached to the Energy Star rating. The law requires that any new home meet certain standards for energy conservation and the bigger the home, the higher the standards.
A 3,500 square foot home, for example, must obtain a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating of 84. According to town building inspector Michael Benincasa, reaching such a score might only mean installing Energy Star rated appliances, or simply having a home’s ducts pressurized. He estimated the cost to be $2,000 to $5,000. Then, a certified HERS rater would have to test the home at an additional cost of roughly $750 to $1,200. In theory the additional upfront costs will be paid back over a short period of time through energy savings.
As the size of the home increases, so does the mandated HERS rating. The higher the HERS rating to be obtained, the more money it will cost a builder. Throne-Holst said it was time the larger homes began to take responsibility for using more energy and reminded everyone in the room of the town’s recent struggle with LIPA over their new transmission line.
At the highest end, a 6,500 square foot house would need to obtain a HERS rating of 95. Benincasa said a 95 rating would mean installing state of the art equipment, Energy Star lighting fixtures, the sealing of ducts and insulation and perhaps incorporating alternative sources of energy such as solar or wind. Throne-Holst said she believed the people building a 6,500 square foot house should have no problem spending the kind of money needed to reach the higher HERS rating.
Criticism came from builders who thought the town might be moving too fast and being too bold. Some favored a phasing in of the ratings system so local architects and builders could get up to speed on the different types of technology. Some raised concerns over the vague definition of “substantially reconstructed,” which Benincasa described as any reconstruction that requires a building being taken down to its “shell.” Others brought up historic homes and questioned whether the law would apply since such reconstruction would be necessary by nature.
And numerous people spoke out against the solar-heated pools portion of the law, specifically in terms of current pools heated by gas or electric pumps, and whether or not solar would be required when the present heaters break. The law states that solar would have to replace the gas heaters and heat pumps.

Photo: Town council members Anna Throne-Holst and Chris Nuzzi at Tuesday’s town board meeting.