ICB Minutes July 12, 2022 w/recording

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

ICB Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
5:00pm
Hybrid Meeting/Zoom and in person

Total Participants: 47—10 in person; 37 on Zoom

Meeting minutes were posted here once approved at the August 9 meeting.

 

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 June 14, 2022, meeting approved as written.

Willard—Financial Report:  The balance in the combined LibertyBank and PayPal accounts is about $3,800.  Thank everyone for all recent donations; ICB is still running a little short to cover our annual operating expenses.

George deMenil & Richard Miller—Legislative Sub-Committee Report re Peconic Bay Tax:

(A PowerPoint presentation re this tax was made at a Southold Town Meeting today [July 12] that was had with the consultants; a link to the presentation will be on fishersisland.net)

George:  ICB has been working on revisions that would benefit Fishers to make to Southold re the Peconic Bay Community Housing Act which was passed last fall; these recommendations would be made if Southold decides, in a referendum, to pass the supplemental tax and create a Southold community housing fund.  If Southold does approve the supplemental tax, we want to be sure that Fishers Island gets its fair share.  We are not trying right now to put together a housing plan; we are responding to the legislation that exists and to what Southold may decide to do with it.  The members of the Legislative Sub-Committee are Richard Miller, Ellen Harvey, representing Walsh Park, Gina Scumaci, lobbyist and Walsh Park resident, Willard, Staley and myself.

[The following document was screen-shared:]

ICB Legislative Subcommittee Report 2022 07 12

 Summary of Statute.  (a)        Statute contemplates increase in transfer tax from 2% to 2-1/2%.   Additional tax revenue would be deposited into a Community Housing Fund to support “affordable housing.”

(b)       Participating towns would establish an “advisory board” to make recommendations concerning implementation.

(c)        Statute provides that assistance may be given to qualifying “first-time home buyers” for the purchase of new or existing structures or renovations of existing structures.  Assistance might be in the form of a grant or a loan.

(d)       Statute does not contemplate direct aid to renters; instead, it contemplates financial assistance to the developers of rental properties who would have to agree to conform to “affordable housing” requirements in connection with leasing.

(e)        The statute contemplates that development of affordable rental housing could be accomplished through a Town housing authority or “public-private partnerships.”

Points:

  1. In collaboration with ICB, the Town will appoint a resident of FI as one of its representatives on the Advisory Board.
  2. Financial assistance as contemplated by paragraph 3 (A) of the Act may be provided in the form of a reduction of real estate taxes, whether or not the property was acquired with a loan from the Fund.
  3. In addition to being used to purchase or construct new affordable housing, or to purchase and renovate existing structures, CHF funds may be used to subsidize rental costs for qualifying persons.
  4. Walsh Park may be considered an acceptable FI participant in any public/private community housing project contemplated by paragraphs 3(D), (E), (F) and (G) of the Act.
  5. Financing a transfer of land owned by the town of Southold to a public-private partnership for housing in accordance with long-term plans approved by the community would be an authorized use of CHF funds.
  6. Preference shall be given to applicants who are willing and able to provide essential skills or services needed in the community such as EMTs, other first-responders and emergency workers, and others with needed skills such as teachers or infrastructure personnel.
  7. A plan shall not be deemed “equitable” as required by paragraph 7(F) of the Act unless it returns funds to the various villages, hamlets and other regions of the Town over time approximately in proportion to their net contributions to the Fund (inclusive of repayments, etc.)
  8. In lieu of paying the tax required by the Act, a transferor of property may instead make a donation to an approved charitable organization that promotes housing for qualifying individuals and families in communities within the Town.

Comments should be sent to: ficommunityboard@gmail.com

Richard:  This presentation begins with a five-point summary of the Statute; the Statute is 6 pages long, single-spaced.  If Southold opts into this program, there will be an increase in the existing transfer tax on real property transfers from 2% to 2.5%.  The additional tax revenue will be deposited into a ‘Community Housing Fund’ to support affordable housing, and the statute refers to affordable housing in the context of Federal and State law.  As George alluded, all of this has to be woven into the Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan of the Town.  And, in order to do this, each Town is supposed to establish an “Advisory Board” to make recommendations concerning implementation of the Affordable Housing program in that town. The statute provides that assistance may be given to qualifying “first-time home buyers” for the purchase of new or existing structures or renovations to existing structures.  Assistance can either be in the form of an outright grant or a loan from funds in the community housing fund.  Surprisingly to us, the statute does not contemplate any direct assistance to renters.  Instead, the statute contemplates that financial assistance will be given to developers of rental properties, and those developers would have to agree to observe the affordable housing requirements in connection with leasing the properties that were developed.  The statute also contemplates that affordable rental housing could be accomplished either through a town housing authority or through public/private partnerships.  That’s the bare bones of the Statute.  Your Legislative Sub-Committee has met several times on this, and we present to you the following eight points [see document above] as the points we suggest should be made by Fishers as our input into this process.  I want to emphasize that we are anxious to receive the comments of the community on these suggestions.  This is what we focused on.  First of all, there is supposed to be an Advisory Board established by the Town.  We don’t automatically get a seat on that Advisory Board.  We would like there to be a provision that says that Fishers Island will be represented on that Advisory Board, which would mean that the Town would have to agree that it would appoint a resident of Fishers Island as one of its representatives.  And we suggest that the representative should be decided upon by the Town and the ICB in collaboration.  Our second point is that if you really wanted to help people on Fishers, it would be great if they could simply get an abatement or a reduction in their real estate taxes.  The third point is that we think the money in the fund could/should be used to subsidize rental costs directly.  As you know, Walsh Park is an existing provider of housing assistance on Fishers Island, although the assistance it provides is not exactly the same as the affordable housing concept that is used in the statute.  Nevertheless, we would like it to be made clear that if there is going to be a public/private partnership on Fishers, Walsh Park might be considered an acceptable participant on behalf of Fishers Island and that the Town would not object to that.  Our fifth point is why shouldn’t a transfer of land from the Town of Southold for use in community housing be considered an eligible use of funds in the Community Housing Fund.  Southold would transfer land and pay itself back through the fund.  When we go through the proposals the statute refers to affordable housing, as I mentioned before, in the context of Federal and State law.  We think it is important that preference be given to applicants who are willing and able to provide essential skills and services in the community.  There’s nothing about this in the statute, but we hope that this will serve to bring in needed personnel who would otherwise be priced out of the market.  Item number seven refers to a point that Jim Reid made at an earlier meeting that transfer tax funds have raised over $8.5 million since it was originated, while only approximately $1.3 million has made its way back to Fishers.  There’s a mention of the word “equitable” in the statute, and our suggestion is that a plan should not be considered “equitable” unless it returns funds to the various villages, hamlets, and other regions of the town approximately in proportion to their contributions.  Finally, we suggest that when a property is sold the seller of the property would be entitled to make a donation to an approved charity on Fishers that will use those funds to support community housing on Fishers.  In the back of our minds is the thought that if these funds could be channeled to Walsh Park or a similar organization that is based on Fishers, that would be better for Fishers Island.  We are anxious to have other suggestions, input, etc.  Comments may be sent to ficommunityboard2@mail.com.

George:  I do want to emphasize that what Richard has just gone through is a draft that we are putting out to the Community and are encouraging the Community’s reactions.  We would like to give a final version of these suggestions to the Town Fathers at the August 3 meeting on Fishers.

Bob Evans:  I’d like to point out in point number one above that it is not an increase in the Peconic Bay Fund, but an increase in the property transfer tax.  The 2% tax is being encouraged to start funding wastewater treatment.  I think each type of tax should be permanently restricted from the purpose that they are presently being used.

Willard:  The Town met this morning with their consultants on this topic, and the consultants made a PowerPoint presentation that is available.  A link to it will be available both in the “Chat” and on fishersisland.net.

Willard—ICB Board Elections:  The terms of two representatives, one seasonal, one year-round, currently serving on the ICB Board are about to expire—mine and Nate Malinowski’s.  We will have an election, as we did last year.  I turn it over to Jane Ahrens to explain the process and the timeline for this election.

[The following document was screen shared:]

ICB 2022 Election Timeline

Tuesday, July 12, 5:30 PM ICB Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, July 13 ICB Request for Candidates letter sent & published on Fishersislsland.net

Friday, July 29, 12:00 PM Candidate Deadline to express interest in running

Friday, August 5, 5:00 PM Candidate Bios & Statements due

Monday, August 8 Candidate Bios & Statements published on Fishersislsland.net

Monday, August 15, 9 AM to Friday, August 19, 5 PM: ICB Representative Election online 24/7 and in person at the FICC 9:00-1:00 daily

As in past years, voters (who are not already ICB members) will register as an ICB member with their name and email and self-identify as a Seasonal or Year-Round member. Then cast their vote for their corresponding elected ICB Representative.

Friday, August 19, after 5 PM, Votes will be counted; Candidates will be notified; ICB elected Board will be notified; Results will be published on Fishersislsland.net and PO Bulletin Board

October ICB Monthly Meeting. Newly elected officials are sworn into office.

Jane:  The ICB Board Election will follow the same timeline as it has in the past several years.  The candidate letter will be sent out by MailChimp to the ICB members list, and it will be posted on fishersisland.net, along with this timeline, under the ICB tab.

Candidate bios, when received, will be posted on fishersisland.net, and posted on the PO Bulletin Board.  The ballot for online voting may be found, beginning on Monday, August 15th, also under the ICB tab on fishersisland.net.  On Friday, after the polls close at 5 pm, the votes will be counted, the ICB Board and newly elected members will be notified, and the results will be posted on fisherisland.net and the PO Bulletin Board.

Willard: Newly elected Board members are announced at the September ICB meeting, and officially take office at the October meeting, which is the Annual Meeting.

Chris Ingram—IHP report:  We’ve had smatterings of Covid positive cases on the Island since the beginning of summer; none that we know of that have ended up in the hospital.  It’s quite rampant still, and everyone knows that the variant has changed to one that seems to evade the immune defenses that we’ve built up so far.  Therefore it’s a little unpredictable how that will end up manifesting itself with those who have been vaccinated, those who have previously had COVID and those that are unvaccinated.  The CDC recommendations hold that in indoor public places masks still be worn at peoples’ discretion, and they even recommend that in crowded outdoor congregations as well.  Paxlovid [anti-viral] is still out there and available for those who qualify.  I just need to be contacted to get those orders in.  It’s a little complicated in getting the medications over as it is only the big pharmacies that have had it available to date and none of them deliver to the Island.  The PT program is up and running.  We’re scheduling people two days a week and it’s been well-received. We were forced into a donation-based support of the program for those who have used the services.  Call the IHP office to schedule appointments, and Kapri will follow up with you.  We do ask that if you schedule yourself, you do your utmost to keep appointments.

John McGillian—Health Insurance for Island residents:  Staley and I have been working on this with the idea that there are many local residents on Fishers who do not have adequate health insurance coverage.  We’re frustrated by the fact that anyone covered under the Affordable Care Act can only use the doctors in New York, not in Connecticut.  We’re trying to put together some data and see if we can assemble an interested group large enough to get a discount on an insurance plan.  Staley has contacted Sam Marshall and I’ve contacted Charlie Wilmerding for assistance/advice.  Even Dr. Ingram feels his coverage here is not adequate.  There is a need for improved coverage and better rates.

Staley:  We’ve run into a lot of brick walls in our research but we are going to keep trying.

Willard:  One of the obstacles we ran into five years ago when we looked into this was that we couldn’t get a group large enough to make it cost effective.  We might talk to some of the Island employers to see if there is interest in joining a group policy for their employees.  That might help us get to a bigger group.

Staley:  Please let Kapri know if you would be interested in a group insurance plan.

John:  We need at least 25+ to have a reasonable shot at getting a group discount.

Beth Cashel—Southold Town Liaison:  1) There have been many questions regarding the sinkhole in the road by the “three sisters” houses.  Engineers from Southold have been to Fishers and there has been approval of an $850,000 bond to repair this damage.  The work will begin sometime in the fall or spring, and, again, the road is presently unsafe.  2) Tree Committee: this proposed legislation was meant to address clear cutting; it was not meant to address the removal of trees on personal property and having to get approval for that.  This proposed legislation is back in committee, and I will report to you as soon as there is more information to share.

Willard:  The three key Southold legislations that ICB is trying to keep on top of are the Tree Code, Peconic Bay tax increase, and the McMansion building legislation.  A couple of other things I want to cover: a) a thank-you to FIDCO for repairing the Isabella Beach Road; b) a thank you to Walsh Park for hosting an open forum to discuss the plans for sale of a school-owned property on Equestrian Avenue to Walsh Park for the purpose of development of more affordable housing units.

Staley:  That meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 26th, 5 pm at the Community Center.

Willard: Another item on the agenda is the STOP sign situation on the Island.  In the last two weeks, I have been inundated with complaints that something be done about the speeding and hazards at the intersection by the ball field [Central & Crescent Aves].  I have a petition signed by close neighbors in this area who are also concerned about this intersection. People sending their children to IPP—whose programs take place at various locations on the Island this year—are also very concerned about this intersection.  We will leave this issue open for feedback until August 2nd, but I have enough consensus from the community in favor of making that intersection a 4-way stop.  If we don’t have a significant amount of negative feedback, we will begin the process of trying to get a 4-way STOP sign at that intersection at the Fishers Town Board meeting on August 3rd.  The alternative to a 4-way stop would be to cut down the beautiful maple tree at that intersection which also blocks the view.  We will reach out to the Trooper as well, regarding the speeding through that intersection.  We have well over 60 names of people in favor of a 4-way stop at that intersection.

Beth (?):  Re: Peconic Bay 2% real estate transfer tax is paid by the buyer; the proposed .5% increase would also be paid by the buyer.

Willard:  I sent a copy of the Legislative Sub-Committee’s suggestions re Peconic Bay tax to Scott Russell, copying Louisa Evans, and asked them to consider these suggestions as they met with the consultants.  We will post the name of the consultant that the Town is using.

The next ICB monthly meeting will take place on August 9th via Zoom.

The Southold Town Board meeting on Fishers will take place on Wednesday, August 3rd.

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