07/30/10 12:00am

The Suffolk County Department of Health closed Wildwood Lake in Northampton to bathers Friday due to high bacteria levels. The beach closure came the same day the county announced three mosquitos samples taken from Riverhead Town tested positive for West Nile virus.
The West Nile samples were taken from two sites in Jamesport and one in Aquebogue between July 21 and July 23. Positive West Nile samples were also found at 16 other sites in Suffolk County during those days.
West Nile is transmitted to humans and other mammals through mosquitoes. No cases of the virus in humans, horses or birds have been reported in Suffolk County this year.
Officials said that dead birds can be a sign of the virus and advise residents that see any to call the county’s hotline at 787-2200.
As for the beach at Wildwood Lake, county officials did not say how long it would be closed.
The Department of Health regularly tests Suffolk’s bathing beaches for bacteria levels from May to September, according to the county’s website.
For the latest information on affected beaches, call the Bathing Beach hotline at 852-5822.
vchinese@timesreview.com

07/30/10 12:00am

SUFFOLK TIMES FILE PHOTO
Former supervisor Josh Horton, with police Captain Martin Flatley and ZBA chairwoman Leslie Weisman, explaining the logistics of the NOFO concert to the Town Board earlier this month.

This weekend’s NOFO Rock and Folk Fest will go on as originally planned,
without the late restrictions, including putting a cap on parking and
shutting down the music early, that the Town Board had attempted to
impose, a State Supreme Court justice ruled Thursday.
    In a
victory for the two-day show’s organizers, Justice Jeffrey Spinner ruled
that the Town Board lacks the authority to overturn the permits
previously issued by Southold’s zoning appeals board for the weekend
show at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue.
    Supervisor Scott Russell
said the town will not appeal. He called the ruling by Justice Jeffrey
Spinner “fair,” but said it illustrates the flaws in the town’s permit
review process. Town law allows the chair of the zoning board to issue a
winery event permit without consulting with the other members, as was
the case with the Peconic Bay application.
    The Town Board
attempted to add 21 new conditions to that permit after concluding that
the application did not accurately reflect the event’s size. The
organizers said they anticipated a crowd of about 800. But a letter from
a NOFO staffer to potential vendors put that number at over 15,000. The
Town Board demanded an end to the music an hour early at 6 p.m. and
also sought a payment of about $6,500 to cover police costs.
    The
supervisor said he was dismayed by the legal challenge and contended
that each of the new conditions was agreed upon by the organizers,
former supervisor Josh Horton and vineyard manager Jim Silver.
  
 ”But at the last minute [Mr. Horton] runs to court because he doesn’t
want to live with his own agreement, when they agreed to modest,
reasonable restrictions to protect the health, safety and quality of
life within the community,” said Mr. Russell. “When a judge tells us,
too bad, your code doesn’t let you do that, it’s time to change the
code.”
    Mr. Horton said he understands the towns concerns and
said the apparent disparity in crowd estimates stems from a
misunderstanding. The 800 figure represents the number anticipated at
any one time, not the total.
    ”1,200 to 1,600 is not unreasonable,” he said, adding, “Public safety is our number one priority.”
  
 The supervisor maintains that the town was misled in a permit
application “that contained so many misrepresentations that it’s almost
fradulent.”
    Still, he said he believes Mr. Horton will work to limit any potential negative impacts on the community.
    ”I look forward to the event going off as smoothly as possible,” he said.
    Mr. Silver was not immediately available for comment.
tkelly@timesreview.com

07/29/10 12:00am
07/29/2010 12:00 AM

In a split vote, the Riverhead Town Board on Thursday granted Rechler Equity Partners three more months to decide if it wants to move forward with its proposed $18 million purchase of 300 acres at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.
And in doing so, the development group, which has proposed building a high-tech industrial park, agreed to make an immediate and non-refundable $125,000 payment to the town.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter was absent, and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio voted against the measure, which passed 3-1.
“It was a bad contract to begin with. Why extend it?” she later said.
Councilman George Gabrielsen, who has been critical of the Rechler deal in the past, said that he would support the measure because the $125,000 payment is non-refundable.
“Given the financial straits the town is in, this is something I have to go with,” he said.
“I thought this a great job that our town attorney’s office did in negotiating this and getting us that $125,000,” Councilman John Dunleavy said.
Councilman Jim Wooten also voted in favor of the extension.
The contract with Rechler set Monday, July 26, as the deadline by which Rechler was to decide if it wanted to extend its contract with the town by another six months, according to town attorney Dawn Thomas. To do so, Rechler would have had to pay the town $250,000, which would come off the overall purchase price and be held in escrow, Ms. Thomas said.
After Rechler asked for more time to make that decision, the town and Rechler worked out the agreement by which Rechler would pay $125,000 for an additional three months by which to decide if they want the additional six months, according to Ms. Thomas. The $125,000, which would be paid on top of the $250,000 extension agreement, if it happens, also would be deducted from the overall purchase price.
Rechler Equity Partners first went to contract with the town in 2007 to buy 300 acres of light-industrial land in Calverton for $35 million. In 2009, citing the economy, it convinced the town to drop the price to $18 million.
Rechler’s original plans for the site call for construction of a high-tech industrial park of 2.7 million square feet, a development that would be phased in over 10 years. Rechler recently asked the town to allow residential and retail uses on the site, although none of the Town Board members expressed support for that in interviews afterward.
Rechler also has a 40-year lease agreement with Suffolk County to build a more than 400,000-square-foot business and technology park at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton that reportedly will begin construction next year.
tgannon@timesreview.com

07/29/10 12:00am

The partners behind the upcoming NOFO Rock and Folk Festival in
Cutchogue are seeking a court order to prevent Southold Town from
placing new restrictions on the event, including a limit on on-site
parking.
State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Spinner ordered a
hearing for this morning, Thursday, in Riverhead on the promoters’
request for a temporary restraining order to bar the town from amending
the public assembly permit issued in June by Southold’s Zoning Board of
Appeals. That permit placed no limit on the number of vehicles that
could be parked on site.
Former supervisor Josh Horton, who is
working with Peconic Bay Winery to stage the two-day event there this
coming Saturday and Sunday, said the Town Board overstepped its
authority in seeking to impose 21 additional conditions, including
restricting the number of vendors to 25 and cutting off the music at 6
p.m., an hour earlier than advertised. The promoters also object
strenuously to the town’s placing a 400-vehicle limit on on-site
parking.
Referring to the Town Board, Mr. Horton said, “A
legislative body does not have any legal authority whatsoever to amend a
decision or permit issued by a zoning board of appeals.”
The
town says that the promoters provided misleading information in
describing the event’s size and scope. The event layout map accompanying
the ZBA permit application showed four vendors and estimated a crowd of
about 800 per day.
But a copy of the organizers’ letter to
prospective vendors eventually came to the Town Board’s attention. It
said the crowd was expected to be “well over 15,000.”
During a
recent appearance before the Town Board — which had considered, but
decided against, revoking the permit after the letter surfaced — Mr.
Horton called the letter a “clerical error.”
In their court case,
the promoters also object to the town’s demand for payment of about
$6,500 to cover police overtime costs, an amount they call excessive.
Supervisor Scott Russell said the town is simply trying to ensure public safety.
“We’re
trying to have the event and at the same time safeguard the community
from unwanted effects,” he said. “People aren’t the issue. It’s the cars
and traffic that present the problems.”
The supervisor offered a particularly harsh assessment of the legal challenge.
“I
think this is a transparent attempt by the former supervisor to draw
attention to himself and the event,” said Mr. Russell. “Maybe ticket
sales are lagging and this free press doesn’t hurt.”
Mr. Horton argued the parking limit itself has the potential to create traffic problems rather than solve them.
“We’ve
got seven and a half acres for parking, but they tell us we can only
use a small portion of that? It’s asinine,” he said. “They’re creating
the potential for vehicles to try to park elsewhere, which is something
none of us wants.”
He also questioned the town’s estimate for the cost of additional police services.
“We’ve
expressed a willingness to pay for these services,” Mr. Horton said.
“However, more police are being brought on to cover this event than are
available to manage entire sections of the town on any given summer
weekend.”
Mr. Russell maintained that the concert’s principals
had agreed to all the new conditions during a July 20 meeting at Town
Hall. Mr. Horton strongly disagreed.
The town will be marking the
Cutchogue business district with “no concert parking” signs, said Mr.
Russell. “We have a list of tow operators who will be ready and on call
to go into action if people violate that,” said the supervisor.
When
concert-goers arrive, they’ll be required to produce both an admission
ticket and a second ticket showing that they parked on site, said the
supervisor.
The stage was to face northwest but at the town’s
insistence it instead must face southeast “so the music filters out over
the farm field and not the homes and businesses in the area,” he added.
That provides a 30-acre buffer, Mr. Russell said.
He doesn’t see the one-hour reduction in the concert duration, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., as a hardship.
“You’re talking about eight hours of continuous music,” he said. “Having it end at 6 p.m. is more than fair on our part.”
tkelly@timesreview.com

07/29/10 12:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO
An oil tanker docked at Iron Pier in Northville on Long Island Sound, which is the focus of a bipartisan bill in Congress announced on Monday that would extend funding for years to come to help limit pollution and improve water quality.

Congressmen Tim Bishop and Peter King on Monday announced a $1 billion bipartisan plan they say will protect the health of Long Island Sound by reducing pollution and improving overall water quality.

Their proposed Long Island Sound Improvement Act of 2010 would renew and expand the Long Island Sound Study, which is set to expire by year’s end. Their proposal bill would renew $40 million in funding for improving the health of the Sound and secure an additional $125 million for 2011 and $250 million in each subsequent year through 2015.

The funds would be designated for wastewater infrastructure repair, construction and upgrades. The upgrades would include stormwater systems and low-impact design technology and approaches.

“We simply need it,” said Mr. Bishop (D-Southampton). “It is not a burden local governments can carry.”

Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine, whose district includes the largest chunk of Sound coastline, from Orient Point to Wading River, welcomed the legislation.

“We need to work to make the Sound, which has become a dump, pristine again,” said Mr. Romaine (R-Center Moriches). “It’s something that has become critical.”

Mr. King is a Republican congressman from Seaford.

With the funding in place, according to supporters of the proposal, a lot more stormwater and wastewater management projects could be completed along the Sound. They say that, in the future, projects similar to the Greenport sewer system upgrade — on which construction is expected to begin soon — could receive funding.

“This is a great day for Long Island Sound,” said state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket).

Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which has been instrumental in lobbying to improve the health of the Sound, lauded the proposal. Maureen Dolan-Murphy, executive programs manager for the group, said that environmentalists are already seeing the positive effects of past efforts. For the first time in years, she noted, pods of dolphins have been seen swimming in the Sound.

“Seeing that was a sign,” Ms. Dolan-Murphy said. “Through all of our efforts, we are working to make it cleaner and healthier.”

In Brookhaven Town, deputy highway superintendent Lori Baldassare cited Amagansett Drive between Shore Road and Lower Rocky Point Road in Sound Beach as one place where funding could be used to make improvements. “We don’t know how much the project is going to cost in total because we just got the engineering back,” Ms. Baldassare said.

Other aspects of the proposed Long Island Sound Protection Act include increasing accountability by requiring the Long Island Sound Program to be evaluated every two years for its effectiveness and extending its footprint through the whole watershed that drains into Long Island Sound — which includes parts of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.

The legislation also would require local governments in urbanized areas within the Long Island Sound watershed that discharge stormwater through a storm sewer system to comply with stricter limits. The measure would direct the federal Environmental Protection Agency to develop new regulations for municipalities seeking permits to install stormwater drainage systems.

peggy@northshoresun.com

07/29/10 12:00am

Regina Calcaterra

A spokesman for Regina Calcaterra’s campaign for the Democratic nomination to challenge Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) in the state Senate race this fall dismissed accusations this week that the candidate hasn’t been a New York state resident long enough to serve in the Legislature.

The accusations are based on documents showing Ms. Calcaterra owned a house in New Hope, Pa., appeared to have been registered to vote there and had a Pennsylvania driver’s license as of late as 2007.

Meanwhile, the Democrat who first raised the issue and sought to wrest the nomination away for himself through a party primary is, unless a court rules otherwise, out of the running. The Suffolk Board of Elections dismissed Calverton resident Gregory Fischer’s nominating petitons, ruling that they were submitted a day late.

Calcaterra campaign spokesman Andrew Moesel on Tuesday said that Ms. Calcaterra, a lawyer who grew up in Coram and lists New Suffolk as her residence, had bought the New Hope house because it was close to both New York and Philadelphia, where she was handling a lawsuit that required her to frequent both cities.

He said she had registered to drive there only out of necessity while she worked on the case and never considered it her permanent residence. She owned the New Hope house for only about a year and always maintained her permanent residence in New York state, he insisted.

“This is Republicans playing the same old political game that is so typical of the corruption culture of Albany,” Mr. Moesel said. “Ken LaValle and all opponents of reform are scared to death they will have to face an honest and motivated candidate this fall.”

Suffolk County Board of Election officials are expected to rule this week on whether formal objections challenging Ms. Calcaterra’s residency should be decided by the court system.

Regarding Mr. Fischer’s own petitions, the package received by the BOE was postmarked July 16 but the deadline was July 15, said Republican Commissioner Cathy Geier. The deadline for filing a court challenge to that decision passes today, Thursday.

Mr. Fischer wrote the board recently, claiming Ms. Calcaterra did not meet the five-year continuous residency requirement for state legislative candidates. He submitted to the BOE a copy of an April 2007 New York state voter registration application from Ms. Calcaterra, giving an address in New Hope, Pa. He also supplied a 2007 Pennsylvania driver’s license record.

Mr. Fischer sought the Democratic nomination to run against Mr. LaValle in 2008, but the party opted not to run a candidate that year. Mr. LaValle, first elected in 1976, garnered 81,062 votes that year.

According to Mr. Moesel, Republican and Independent party members have filed formal objections with the BOE, based on Mr. Fischer’s evidence. Filing the objections requires the board to make a decision on the matter.

Mr. LaValle declined to comment through a spokesperson.

Brookhaven Republican chairman Jesse Garcia scoffed at Mr. Moesel’s explanation. He saidthe real issue was that Ms. Calcaterra did not care about following the state constitution.

“It is clear that she has just become another cog in the Democratic dysfunction in Albany that gave us the Metropolitan Transportation Authority tax, ripped school aid away from us and took away our STAR rebate checks,” Mr. Garcia said.

peggy@northshoresun.com

07/29/10 12:00am

The Riverhead Town Board will vote Thursday morning on a measure that would give Rechler Equity Partners three more months to decide if they want to go forward with their proposed $18 million purchase of 300 acres at the Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL).

But that extra time will come at a price.

The town’s contract with Rechler, which is calling their project REPCAL, set Monday, July 26, as the deadline by which Rechler was to decide if it wanted to extend its contract with the town by another six months, according to town attorney Dawn Thomas. To do so, Rechler would have to pay the town $250,000, which would come off the overall purchase price and be held in escrow, Ms. Thomas said.

But Rechler has asked for more time to make its decision, and the Town Board is scheduled to vote on a resolution Thursday morning that would give Rechler until October to decide on the six-month extension. Those extra three months would come at a non-refundable cost of $125,000, which would go directly to the town, Ms. Thomas said. She said that if the deal ultimately closes, that $125,000 would be credited toward the $18 million purchase price.

The proposed amendment to the contract does not address proposed uses at the site. Earlier this year, Rechler asked the town to consider changing the proposed uses at the site to allow some residential and retail uses, although Town Board members later said they opposed that.

Rechler Equity Partners first went to contract with the town in 2007 to buy 300 acres of light industrial land at EPCAL for $35 million. In 2009, citing the economy, it convinced the town to drop the price to $18 million.

Rechler’s original plans for the site call for construction of a high-tech industrial park of 2.7 million square feet, a development that would be phased in over 10 years.

Rechler had said the project would generate some 3,700 construction jobs and 7,650 permanent jobs over 10 years.

tgannon@timesreview.com