Real estate activity this post Memorial Day week, ran the gamut, and included a long awaited waterfront closing, a high end rental showing, several appointments in the $1M range and showings of high end waterfront properties.
Discussion of the proposed revision to the zoning code called “proportionality” which would reduce the percentage of a property that could be developed and include unfinished space in the total lot coverage continued at Friday’s Shelter Island Town Board meeting. If the proposal were made into law, waterfront and small lots, both vacant and existing homes, would be most affected.
Recently appointed Councilmember Mary Dudley was asked by Planning Board member Emory Breiner from the audience if she has data on the “percentage of current homes that would become instantly non-conforming” if her proposal is adopted.
Dudley said, “No, I can’t tell you that, but if you give me an opportunity to possibly look into it, there might be an answer I can get for you.”
When Breiner suggested “before we go forward we should know the consequences,” Dudley said “what we presented, it was just the formula, those numbers are flexible, so what you saw as a result was not necessarily what we’re talking about doing, it was just numbers we threw in there…that’s a good point that you’ve got there, that we should really take a look at what we’ve got on the island and try to get an idea [of] what fits and how the formula can fit what we have,” and that “total proportionality is pretty standard.”
Councilman Paul Shepherd said that “House size literally has been limited by financial element at this point, essentially people haven’t built a house that big because: who would build a house that big? Little by little that’s changing, we are starting to see people with the resources build things that could actually conceivably cover 25% of a lot, and the thought that some people had was maybe we need to look at that and put some limits around that, other than the 25%.” When asked why proportionality is being proposed again, Shepherd replied, “People screamed. My own aesthetic thing too, I don’t really want to see a whole lot consumed with structure and house.”
Within the framework of water usage and lot coverage, Councilman Jim Colligan last week said that “mansions” do not represent the character of Shelter Island, however estates on Nostrand Parkway, in Dering Harbor and the Victorians in the Heights, along with large historic hotels which no longer exist, were developed during the turn of the century and are a part of the fabric of the island today. The Health Department uses the number of bedrooms, not water consumption, when issuing its permits.
An audience member, an architect, said “I find it ironic you are proposing proportionality and at the same time advocating multi-family rental housing on a small lot, on less than a third of an acre [in a] single family residential zone.” He asked if members of the Town Board have experience in urban planning, design and development, adding, the “Board needs to understand the implications of what they are advocating” and “there is an activist mentality tending to rush to actualizing these things before
there is a full understanding of the broad implications across the island.”
Through open conversation and sharing concerns, ideas can be explored which could be productive, rather than alarming. Perhaps creating a Committee, as the Town has done in the past for other important issues, comprised of those with zoning and urban planning experience would enable long range, thoughtful solutions.
This coming Saturday, June 11th, The East End Hospice’s event “Soar Into Summer…Taking Care of Our Island” Cocktail Party and Silent Auction will be held at the Shelter Island Yacht Club between 5:30 and 8pm, which we are happy to sponsor for the second year.
East End Hospice helps people whose life expectancy is six months or less, allowing them to conclude life with comfort and dignity. There are times in my work when I meet a family whose loved one is being cared for or is about to be cared for by hospice. There have been personally painful times when I have worked with a seller who has transitioned to hospice care. My neighbor and a colleague here on Shelter Island, two women I was fortunate to call friends, were assisted through hospice in their last days. The dedication to the work and compassion for those East End Hospice assists is palpable. Please join us in supporting East End Hospice and the important work they perform so tirelessly in our community.