06/29/14 7:00am
06/29/2014 7:00 AM
The dining room table set for the holiday dinner at Jack and Patricia Orben's Aquebogue home. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

The dining room table set for a dinner at Jack and Patricia Orben’s Aquebogue home. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

With so few hours in the day and so much to accomplish, the daily activity of eating dinner as a family can sometimes fall by the wayside.

But nutrition and mental-health experts agree that it’s one activity that shouldn’t be neglected as family dinners offer much more than a full stomach.

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06/28/14 10:00am
06/28/2014 10:00 AM
Those interested in learning more about saltwater fishing will get a chance this summer. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Those interested in learning more about saltwater fishing will get a chance this summer. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A free saltwater fishing clinic is coming to Riverhead this summer.

The clinic will be held at Ammermann Riverfront Park Aug. 18, a collaborative effort from the Department of Environmental Conservation’s I FISH NY program and the Riverhead Town Recreation Department.  (more…)

06/28/14 10:00am
(Credit: The Nature Conservancy)

This map uses pie charts to break down the various sources and levels of nitrogen pollution found in the Peconic Estuary from Calverton to Montauk and Orient. Click on map to enlarge. (Credit: The Nature Conservancy)

The Nature Conservancy released a report last week on the various ways nitrogen finds its way from the air and land and into surface waters throughout the Peconic Estuary.

The report’s data shows that causes of nitrogen pollution vary significantly across the East End.

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06/27/14 12:00pm
06/27/2014 12:00 PM
A view of the bay and SHelter Island from Pepi's Restaurant in Southold, near Port of Egypt. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A view of the bay and SHelter Island from Pepi’s Restaurant in Southold, near Port of Egypt. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Despite the op/ed pieces, press conferences, television appearances and lobbying by county and state officials and environmentalists from across the region, 2014 may not be the year for clean water on Long Island.

The state Senate failed to act last week on sweeping legislation aimed at safeguarding Nassau and Suffolk county’s many bays and tributaries, Long Island Sound and groundwater aquifers.

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06/23/14 12:00pm
06/23/2014 12:00 PM
This sod farm on the east side of Edwards Avenue, just north of the railroad, may host a 38-acre solar energy farm. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

This sod farm on the east side of Edwards Avenue, just north of the railroad, may host a 38-acre solar energy farm. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A solar company out of San Francisco has proposed building over 30,000 solar panels on a Calverton sod farm, the second large solar farm in the area pitched in recent weeks.

S Power Solar is planning on buying 45 acres from DeLalio Sod Farms on the east side of Edwards Avenue, just north of Tuthill Petroleum and the Long Island Rail Road. The site is just north of a LIPA/PSEG Long Island substation.

The proposal is to build 30,460 solar energy panels on 38 acres of the land, with the capacity of generating up to 6.3 megawatts of energy.

S Polar has a purchase agreement with LIPA/PSEGLI to sell the power to the utility provider. The 20-year agreement is facing time constraints, the applicant said at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Planning Board meeting, where they urged the board to approve the project quickly.

The Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing on the plan, scheduled for July 17 at 3 p.m.

S Power Solar also will need three property line setback variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, which has a June 26 hearing planned.

The Planning Board also recently granted preliminary site plan approval to another solar farm in the same area.

STR Systems of Kingston, N.Y. is leasing 14 acres south of the Riverhead Charter School on Route 25 in Calverton, just east of Edwards Avenue, in order to build 13,068 solar panels that would produce about three megawatts of power, which also would be sold to LIPA/PSEG.

That applicant also has said they have a 20-year agreement with LIPA/PSEG and as such, face time constraints in getting the project approved.

Both projects are located in land zoned for industrial uses, although the DeLalio property is currently being used as a sod farm.

Figuring out where to permit solar farms came up in town hall recently, as the Riverhead Town Board discussed a proposal on Thursday to ban solar farms that sell energy back to LIPA/PSEG on all agriculturally-zoned property, and to only allow it in industrially-zoned land.

The prohibition would not apply to farms that have solar panels to generate power for the farm operation, rather than to sell to a LIPA/PSEG. It also wouldn’t apply to the town itself, which is proposing to build solar panels on a number of town-owned properties.

In addition, the proposed prohibition discussed by the Town Board would only apply to ground-based solar panels, as opposed to ones mounted on a building.

“If you allow this use on farmland, they will come in here in droves and turn it into an industrial property,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Councilman George Gabrielsen, who is a farmer, said he feels that permitting the sale of solar energy could drive up the price of farmland, and if that happens, “goodbye future farmland, because no one will be able to afford it.”

The Town Board will need to hold a public hearing on its proposal to ban solar farms on agriculturally-zoned land, but has yet to set that date.

06/22/14 4:00pm
06/22/2014 4:00 PM
Phil Schmitt speaking with industry officials from upstate Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Phil Schmitt speaking with industry officials from upstate Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Phil Schmitt of Schmitt Family Farms in Riverhead welcomed farming support representatives from the New York City watershed region last week to share some of the conservation practices being used every day on the Roanoke Avenue farm.

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06/21/14 4:00pm
06/21/2014 4:00 PM
County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) presenting Lori Luscher and Greta Schiller with proclamations thanking them for their work removing the invasive plant phragmites from Marion Lake. (Credit: Carrie Miller Photo)

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) presenting Greta Schiller (left) and Lori Luscher with proclamations thanking them for their work removing the invasive plant phragmites from Marion Lake. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Community awareness and promoting activism were the themes of the evening at the North Fork Environmental Council’s annual environmental awards ceremony Thursday, where the nonprofit thanked several groups for their contributions to the local environment.

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06/21/14 7:00am
Area youth group organizers discussed access to mental health services during a forum last month. (Credit: Carrie Miller,

Area youth group organizers discussed access to mental health services during a forum last month. (Credit: Carrie Miller,

Recent studies have shown that more young adults are seeking hospital treatment for mental health issues than ever before. That’s due in part due to the availability of better insurance coverage with healthcare reform, according to researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.

Locally, mental health providers say there simply aren’t enough services available to help youth in need.  (more…)