Tag Archive | "natural resources"

East Hampton Wins $9.9 Million Federal Grant to Acquire Flood-Prone Properties

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Cantwell coastal erosion

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell visits the Napeague-Lazy Point neighborhood with a resident of Mulford Lane, Amagansett.

By Mara Certic

The Town of East Hampton announced on Tuesday, August 26, that is has been awarded a $9.9 million federal grant to purchase a number of properties in Amagansett in order to turn them into protective storm buffers.

According to a release, the money will go toward purchasing approximately 16 properties in the Napeague and Lazy Point area, on Mulford Lane and Bayview Avenue. Some of the properties are vacant lots and some are developed and owned by people who have expressed in interest in selling out.

The program will enable homeowners to voluntarily choose to move out of the high-risk waterfront area and also to protect and possibly restore the coastal floodplain, the town said.

“With the help of this grant, achieved with the support of the Nature Conservancy and the hard work of Kim Shaw of the Town Natural Resources Department, we can preserve building parcels that will otherwise be developed and eliminate existing development clearly vulnerable to erosion and future storms,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said.

Areas of Napeague are particularly narrow, and Route 27— which is the only road connecting Montauk and the rest of the town—has been breached by water in the past, most recently for a short time in October 2012, during Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Cantwell mentioned the very delicate stretch of land at a public hearing about PSEG Long Island’s Utility 2.0 Long Range Plan on Tuesday, August 26, when he called for an emergency energy plan for Montauk. “Montauk it 25 miles from here, it’s separated by some of the most fragile land areas,” he said. “It’s been breached more than once in our living history.”

Ms. Shaw, the town’s natural resources director, said, “We can look forward to this area being restored to natural conditions which will enhance water quality, wildlife habitat and floodplain resiliency.”

According to the town’s press release, land parcels with structures already on them will be cleared in order to put floodplain restoration efforts in place.

Director of the Nature Conservancy on Long Island, Nancy Kelley said

“The Nature Conservancy applauds the Town of East Hampton for bringing Sandy recovery funds to Lazy Point in Amagansett,” said Nancy Kelley, the organization’s Long Island director.

According to the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery website, Congress approved roughly $60 billion in disaster aid for the states hit by Hurricane Sandy, with New York State expected to be allocated half of that total.

“Efforts like these,” she said, “as part of comprehensive plans to manage our coasts in the face of rising seas and excessive nitrogen pollution from wastewater, are vital to ensuring healthier and more resilient coastal communities across Long Island.”

A resident of Bay View Avenue for the past 30 years, Steve Graboski said the plan is “a good thing.”

“People will be able to reclaim the value from their properties,” he said. “The nor’easters are the storms that really affect us the worst. The erosion is like a chip-away effect, chipping away at the shoreline over the years.”

 

A Declining Deer Harvest in Recent Years

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Larry Penny, the East Hampton Town’s director of Natural Resources said that in 2006, the East Hampton Group for Wildlife did the first ever deer count for East Hampton Town. The group found there were 3,293 deer in the 69.7 square miles area of East Hampton. The number of deer harvested that year, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), was 444. The following year, the number of deer harvested dropped to 390, with approximately five deer taken per square mile.

On Tuesday, the office of the Town Clerk of East Hampton, did a count of permits issued for access to town property for use of firearms for deer hunting. In their findings, it was reported in 2008, there were 92 permits issued for access to town property for use of firearms for deer hunting. This year, just two days into the season, 82 people have applied for these types of permits.

Aphrodite Montalvo, the Citizen Participation Specialist for the DEC, said the deer population in eastern Suffolk has actually declined over the past three years largely due to enhanced harvest of female deer, reduced natural food availability due to poor acorn production and severe winter weather. According to the DEC’s reports, the number of deer harvested in Southampton Town’s 142.2 square miles, was 462 in 2007 and 532 in 2006.

The DEC reports that there are roughly 4,000 to 6,000 deer on huntable land in Suffolk County. According to the DEC website, there were 850 bucks [deer with antlers] killed in Suffolk County in 2006 and a total of 2,357 deer killed overall. In 2007, however, those numbers were reduced and 2,159 deer were harvested overall and 781 bucks were harvested in the county.

For the 2008-2009 hunting season, there are approximately 360 residents in East Hampton with sporting licenses that include big game, such as deer, according to the DEC. And in Southampton Town, there are a total of 305 residents with sporting licenses.

“In areas open to hunting, the population of deer generally remains stable,” Mantavlo noted.

 

Protecting Natural Resources

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If adopted by the Sag Harbor Board of Trustee’s the newly proposed zoning code will give the village’s harbor committee teeth it has never had before when it comes to the protection of natural resources like wetlands, tidal waters, beaches, vegetation, dunes and bluffs.

During a harbor committee meeting on Monday, July 14, village environmental consultant Richard Warren walked the board through a synopsis of some of the bigger changes proposed in the new code. While concerns in village hall over the last three months have focused on the effect of the code on Main Street, harbor committee chairman Bruce Tait’s concerns lie solely with the waterfront, which his board is charged with protecting.

Warren explained that the waterfront and marine districts had been merged, and at this point just a few properties have been moved in and out of the waterfront district, including a small parcel next to Bruce Davis’s house that currently belongs to Christie Brinkley. He added the reason the parcel was taken out of the waterfront district and placed into the office district was its small size, which made more sense for office rather than waterfront development.

One personal suggestion Tait made about the code, which Warren seemed to agree with, was differentiating between a boat dealer and a yacht brokerage, which Tait noted are far different uses. Warren seemed amenable to allowing a yacht brokerage as a permitted use in the office district, while keeping a boat dealer in a special exception category, which requires a permit.

“I have been watching this and paying attention,” said Tait of the code process. “I think the evolution has been a good example of public input … my position as I have been watching this is I did not want to see drastic shrinkage of the waterfront.”

Tait agreed that was not what was occurring.

Sag Harbor resident Cam Gleason wondered if Haven’s Beach should be kept in a residential area of the village, for fear a developer could snatch it up should the village ever sell the parkland.

“My guess is there would be about 1,500 more of you if someone tried to sell that,” said Warren. “They would have the tar pot boiling.”

Gleason also asked about the effect of the code on 1, 3 and 5 Ferry Road — a proposed condo development on the waterfront next to the Graphic Arts Building on Long Island Avenue. Warren explained the parcel is proposed to be in the office district, which does have size and density limits.

Warren also noted it is a new chapter of the code, expected to be discussed at the August 11 meeting, which will truly expand the powers of the committee in its role as steward of natural resources. While the board has yet to comment on this chapter as they are currently reviewing it, the section outlines acceptable development and activities around wetlands, tidal waters, beaches, vegetation, dunes and bluffs.

Under the code, harbor committee approval will be required to fill near or in any wetlands, water or beach. Harbor committee approval is needed to clear or dredge, to construct homes, docks, accessory structures or bulkheads, or to have any septic systems, waste or storage system within 200-feet of wetlands, water or beach. No buildings or structures are allowed within 100-feet of a crest of a bluff.

Until this new code, the committee has been able to ask that a wetlands buffer of a minimum 25-feet be maintained, although generally they have allowed 25-feet to be the standard. In the proposed code, wetlands setbacks have been beefed up significantly. Any wastewater disposal system needs to have a 100-foot setback and the construction of all other structures would need a 75-foot setback. Lawns, turf and landscaping, as well as clearing or fertilization of vegetation must take place 50-feet from wetland areas.

Parcels in the waterfront district, or marinas do not have to comply with the setbacks as long as they have obtained site plan approval. 

 Above: Harbor committee member George Pharaoh, chairman Bruce Tait and member Jeff Peters concentrate on Sag Harbor’s new natural resources code. (k menu photo)