ICB Minutes March 8, 2022 w/recording

ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD
P.O. Box 371, Fishers Island, NY 06390
Email: ficommunityboard@gmail.com

ICB Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
5:00pm
Zoom Meeting & In-person at FICC

Total Participants: 50

The ICB meets monthly in a public forum with the community to review and discuss Island priorities. Minutes of monthly ICB meetings are posted on the ICB website at https://fishersisland.net/about-fishers-island/island-community-board/ (here) when they are approved. Recording are posted after rendering.

ICB Representatives: Willard Soper (President/Seasonal), Staley Sednaoui (Vice President/Year-Round), John McGillian (Treasurer – Seasonal), Meg Atkin (Year-Round), George de Menil (Seasonal), Nate Malinowski (Year-Round)

Willard: Minutes of Feb 8, 2022, meeting approved as written.

John McGillian—Treasurer’s Report:  We have approximately $5,000 in the combined Liberty Bank and PayPal accounts. Request for approval of $1,000 payment to MaryBeth for Jan/Feb secretarial services; payment approved.

Chris Ingram—IHP update:  The good news is that there really hasn’t been a significant number of cases in the last month.  Our peak seems to have been around December/January, and that has trailed off to a singular positive case today that I know of in the last month.  We’re in a good position at this point, and hopefully it stays that way.

Tom Siebens—FI Utility Co:  The only update from the Utility Company is that we have a new lineman (after five years of searching). Matt Larson, his wife, and son are now living in the second unit at the Briar Patch (Crescent Ave).  This means that we now have a fully staffed crew in the Electric Company, and Jay Cushing doesn’t have to be on duty 24/7.  I’d like to thank the  Finans, who were very helpful in getting the Larsons up here for a visit in the winter, and Christian for showing them the School, which was a big draw.

Beth Cashel—Neighborhood Aide/Town Liaison:

NEW UPDATES

  • New Town Constable
    • Tim Hoch
      • In process of going thru training
  • Roads/Sidewalks
    • Town Engineer, Michael Collins, and Dan Goodwin, the new Highway Superintendent, are in the process assessing all Town roads to prioritize which ones most need to be repaved.
      • They have been to Fishers a few times already
      • The new approach will be to replace sidewalks when a road needs to be repaved since ADA requires sidewalks to be make ADA compliant when roads are repaved.
      • This changes the focus of ICB from prioritizing sidewalks to prioritizing roads, thought the ultimate decision will be based on the priority list developed.

Louisa:  If people have really bad sidewalks in front of their homes, or when they’re walking, please report them to the Town because they will do repairs.  They are just not replacing sidewalks until they replace roads.

Beth:  To report sidewalks in need of repair, send a note to the Town Clerk.

Willard:  We [ICB] sent a letter to the Town (Scott Russell) last summer identifying some of the roads that were in the worst condition.  Should we bring that letter back up, and re-send at least the portion on the roads, or is it something you think we should re-evaluate from ground zero?

Louisa:  The Town Engineer and the new Highway Superintendent have already been out to Fishers looking at the roads.  It doesn’t hurt to send what ICB thinks are the worst roads, but it’s really going to be the decision of the Town Highway Superintendent and the Engineer.

Beth:  My recommendation, Willard, is to re-send that note and I would address it to Dan Goodwin, who is the new Highway Superintendent.

George:  I’d like to raise the issue that the Sidewalks are in a lot worse condition than the roads.  There are roads in bad shape, too, by the Pequot, for example, and people have been hurt on these sidewalks.  Beth/Louisa: Can you explain the ADA compliance?

Beth:  George, if you look at the new sidewalks that were just put down you will notice how the sidewalks and the roads have pathways to make them ADA accessible.  What I can do is take this back to Dan, Town Engineer, and Michael, Highway Superintendent, and see how they respond, and come back to the ICB and the Town with their response.  What they don’t want to happen is to repair a sidewalk before repairing a damaged road as it becomes more costly.  They think doing sidewalks in conjunction with road repairs makes more sense.

George:  I think that’s an excellent idea.  This seems to be an engineering problem; you should be able to repair sidewalks in a way that will not impede road repairs at a later date without having to do the repairs twice.

Beth:  I think the Town thinks that all of the Town’s roads are in bad shape, so everything has to be re-done.  In a backward way, they’re in agreement that all of this has to be done; but let’s go back to Mike and Dan with that sidewalk in front of the Pequot as an example.

George:  Equestrian Avenue down toward the Ferry is also in very bad shape.

Beth:  Tree Code

  • Tree Committee has drafted a preliminary code for the purpose of tree preservation.
    • Code would potentially require limitations and would require permits for tree removals.
    • While the Tree Code is in early stages of development, the Fishers community should review and offer thoughts during this early stage. Specifically, input from ICB, landscapers, contractors, FI Conservancy, and community members will be helpful to Curtis Rand, Fishers Island liaison to Tree Committee, and to Louisa as this code gets drafted.
[A draft of the Tree Code is available on fishersisland.net.]

Louisa:  We’ve received the draft but not discussed it at all.  If people would look at the draft and send comments to the ICB, we could then take that feedback to the Town.  And this might not be necessary, because the Town might change the draft quite a bit.

Willard:  What the ICB will do is coordinate with the landscapers on the Island and with the Conservancy and report a summary back to you [Beth] and Louisa.

Beth:  Also include the contractors.

  • Public Hearings coming up:
    • Planning Board Meeting on March 14th, 6 PM
      • Public Hearing on the Preliminary Plan of Walsh Park’s Sub-division of School Property
      • The Preliminary Plan is the map prepared prior to the final plan for the guidance of the applicant and the Planning Board, in the manner prescribed by the Town Code, showing the arrangement of lots, blocks, streets, drainage, and other anticipated improvements, parks, open space or agriculture reserve areas shown on the subdivision.

All of the Public Hearings are accessible via Zoom; links to meetings may be found on the Town of Southold website.

Louisa:  The easiest way to get into the hearings is to go to the Southold Town website, scroll down to the calendar, click on the date of the meeting you want to access, and it will give you a zoom link.

Beth:  If you have any difficulty, email me and I can guide you through the process.  Also, many of the meetings are recorded and may be accessed at a later date.

  • PREVIOUS/ACTIVE UPDATES
  • Code/Legislation Change for Large Houses
    • Town has drafted a building code change that would restrict the size of a building on a lot.
      • The purpose is so that a building size and height is proportionate to the lots size and neighborhood.
    • FI may want to engage in this conversation and the decision-making process.
    • Louisa will post draft of bill on fishersisland.net. However, the ICB and myself have a current draft for people who may wish to review.
    • Please note, a final draft has not been agreed upon.

George:  There was an earlier version of this proposal that I saw, and it seemed a little excessive.

Louisa:  That is one of the things that is coming out; at the next Town Board meeting we are supposed to get a final draft and put it to hearing.

George:  Are there going to be any visuals?  There is something called the ‘Pyramid Provision’.

Louisa:  I asked the Town Attorney to give us a good summary of the law, as well as visuals.  It started off as small communities who had beach cottages, having them torn down and much larger structures were built on very small lots, and that’s where the ‘Pyramid Law’ comes in, and it’s been expanded to include larger lots.  If your lot is a certain size, the law no longer applies.

George:  There is a wrinkle that may be of interest—the ‘Pyramid Provision’ is supposed to limit height.  It says you can go up 45 degrees from the edge of the property, but if the property is on a hill, it gives you greater height, and we do have quite a few hills on Fishers.

Beth:  This proposal may be making many people anxious; anyone who has concerns should read the proposal and send comments to ICB; Louisa and I will than have this information to take to the Town.

Staley:  This may be a moment for me to mention the Long Island Civic Association meetings that we [ICB] have been invited to attend.  The Civic Associations of a group of Towns, Hamlets, Villages in Southold have been meeting to discuss common needs, concerns, etc. and the chair of the Civic Association from Orient reached out to ask if ICB might be interested in joining the meetings.  Lately, they’ve been concerned with the house size issue.  I’m going to join their Zoom calls; the first one is on March 16th.

Willard:  One other thing re the tree code proposal—Christian (Arsenault) has offered some of the School students and a teacher to reach out/survey the landscapers and contractors and make sure they get a copy of the Tree Code draft proposal, and get their input, and then the School will report back to the ICB.

Beth:   Zoning Review

  • FI should review zoning along with FI Comprehensive Plan implementation. The Town’s thinking is that not all zoning categories are applicable to all hamlets and that a more nuanced menu may need to be created.
  • Town is in process of implementing the approved Comprehensive Plan – a copy is at library or online.
  • Part of this process involves reviewing and likely changing the current zoning/zoning categories.
  • Town is in process of hiring a consultant to help in this process.
  • I will coordinate with ICB to create a committee of Fishers Island Stakeholders to review zoning in accordance with Comprehensive Plan.

Nate:  Do you know what the timeline for this [Zoning Review] is?  Is it quick, or….?

Beth:  It is not quick, but they are in the process of hiring someone and that is happening over the next few months.

Louisa:  It’ll probably be longer than that, and now is the time for Fishers Island to start paying attention to it.

Beth:

  • ICB Communications Committee is in process of developing a plan and process for community focus groups on this and other Island issues.
  • Economic Development Committee Visit to Fishers
    • I am surveying local businesses to determine best time in May for this meeting.
    • Will then arrange meeting with EDC.
  • Peconic Bay Region’s Community Preservation Fund’s 2% real estate transfer tax being raised .5% to fund affordable housing. – No update this meeting.
    • The Town needs to come up with a plan to outline how funds would be spent on affordable housing. It would then go to a Town wide referendum to be voted in or out. Louisa believes it is bill #6492 introduced in the NY Senate by Senator Anthony Palumbo in the 2021-2022 Regular Sessions.
    • Please note, Walsh Park is not an affordable housing provider under the Town guidelines (no income or first-time homeowners’ limits, etc.) even though it provides year-round resident housing.
    • FI may want to look closely at the bill to see if there is a way that FI can shape the Town’s plan so that FI can take advantage of any monies raised by the potential .5% in the real estate transfer tax.

Louisa:  This is not an automatic raise; the Town has to have a plan in place that will basically explain how the funds will be used.  The increase would be from 2% to 2.5%.

George:  Who gets to vote on this?

Beth:  This is on the agenda and is being discussed; they don’t yet have a plan.

Louisa:  Ultimately the Town Board votes on it after a public hearing.

George:  I think Fishers Island is a big contributor to the Peconic Bay Fund, and it’s difficult for Fishers to get much out of it.  I’m not sure the kind of affordable housing the Peconic Bay Fund would support is the kind we would want on Fishers.

Nate:  I want to give everyone a quick update on where we are with the Communications projects we’ve been working on.  We have started the ‘Focus Group’ project that was discussed at a previous ICB meeting.  We’ve made some calls to stakeholders, done some internal planning to try and understand what we hope to do.  I want to take a moment to thank George Guimaraes who has been incredibly helpful to me as I try and wrap my head around what ICB is trying to do here.  George and I have spent a lot of time talking about what focus groups are and how they are most effective.  What I’ve realized is that we have a lot more work to do before diving into the focus groups.  We, ICB, have to be much more concrete both internally and externally about what we hope to accomplish and how we plan to get there.  We have spent most of February doing this internal work—developing a clear statement of purpose and a clear process plan for how we’re going to move forward.  We’ve been reaching out to Island stakeholders and working internally at ICB among the elected reps to have a clear statement of purpose and a clear process plan, and how we are going to align all this work with the Island’s priorities, the Island’s needs, the Island’s institutions, and the Town of Southold.  I want to highlight a couple of things we learned along the way: if we are going to be successful, we need robust community input, engagement from the ICB membership, and to act as a corridor between the Island and Southold for long-term planning work.  Focus groups are still part of the process and will be used to lay a basis for some long-term planning work.  We’re expecting this project to be collaborative and not to be ICB driven.

Statement of Purpose (screen-shared):

Developing the Basis for a LongTerm Planning Effort

As the central forum for Fishers Island, the ICB is uniquely positioned to be the corridor through which the important work of the island’s institutions and the needs and priorities of our community can be aligned.

The Elected Representatives of ICB are endeavoring to organize, through engagement with our community and Appointed Organizational Directors, the basis of a long-term planning effort for Fishers Island.

We expect this work will:

  • Provide island organizations with deeper and valuable insight into the community’s well-known priorities, pressure points, and long-term interests.
  • Highlight opportunities for collaborative approaches around specific island priorities
  • Establish the basis for a long-term plan aligned around the priorities of our community, that can be the foundation for communication with and input to the town of Southold

Process:

Focus groups are still a part of this, but not the first part.  The first thing we need to do is to identify the pressure points and priorities of our community and rank them.  Once we have synthesized all this information, we are going to use a platform called ‘All of Our Ideas’, which will allow the ICB to rank the priorities against each other.

Q:  Nate, can you clarify your use of the term ‘pressure point’?

A—Nate: There are some things that are challenging about Fishers Island, things that cause friction, i.e., utility rates for example and renewable energy.

Willard:  There are pressure points on all topics—housing costs and year-rounders, for example.  You could also say that full-time jobs on the Island are a pressure point, as are ferry schedules.  We don’t want to saywhat they are; we want to find out what they are from the Community.  We’re not ready to define [pressure points]; we want to find out what the Community feels they are and what impacts them as either a seasonal of year-round resident of the Island.

Willard:  To do’s before the next meeting:

  • MaryBeth to send a copy of the ‘roads & sidewalks’ letter (sent to Scott Russell last fall) to me, George, Beth & Louisa.
  • Christian has kindly said that the School can take a lead on the Tree project survey.
  • Nate will continue with the Communications Committee project.
  • Staley will continue contact with the Long Island Civic Associations.

Louisa:  Correction re potential tax increase from 2% to 2.5%–the Town Board will ultimately approve a plan, but it will go to referendum so people will have a chance to vote on it.

Q—to Beth:  Who is liable for an accident on the sidewalk on one’s own property?

Louisa:  Jane has published that law on the website several times; I will ask her to do it again.

Q:  Can you summarize the law for us, Louisa?

Louisa:  Mostly, you have to keep it clear of snow and ice in the winter, and any kind of debris…

Q: What if someone falls and is injured?

Louisa:  That–in my opinion but I’d have to check—would be the Town’s responsibility.  But the Town would have had to have warning/be on notice from the property owner that the sidewalk was in disrepair.  I urge people to send notice to the Town Clerk.

Willard/Staley: We should urge people in the Community to send this kind of notice to the Town.

Beth:  We should offer the community a form for registering these complaints/notices to the Town.  Coming from the ICB would be helpful, but it really has to come from the citizens themselves to the Town.

Next meeting is April 12th, 5 pm, via Zoom.

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