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04/04/17 1:46pm
04/04/2017 1:46 PM

The Suffolk County Legislature has approved spending $2 million for the long-awaited fitness center at Suffolk County Community College’s Northampton campus.

The project is expected to receive the remaining $2 million from New York State, which missed its April 1 budget deadline.

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03/27/15 11:00am
03/27/2015 11:00 AM

The Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund has never been just about protecting agriculture, farms and open space. At its heart, the program, which took effect in 1999, has always been about protecting a way of life the rest of Long Island lost long ago to intense — and ongoing — suburban sprawl that began after World War II.  (more…)

05/29/14 8:00am
05/29/2014 8:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The view from Route 105 bridge at Indian Island golf course as the Peconic River leads into the Bay.

The view from Route 105 bridge at Indian Island golf course as the Peconic River leads into the Bay. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

New construction and any big renovation projects on Long Island would need to incorporate modern waste treatment systems to better filter nitrogen and keep it from reaching ground and surface waters.

Registered pesticides that appear in groundwater in “multiple clusters” would be “prohibit[ed] for use.”

And, starting in 2017, no one would be allowed to repair cesspools in certain “priority areas” of Nassau or Suffolk counties. Those people would instead have to install denitrification systems.  (more…)

02/03/14 2:41pm
02/03/2014 2:41 PM
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Residents running low on fuel may qualify for help. Visit the HEAP website or call 1-800-342-3009.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Residents running low on fuel may qualify for help. Visit the HEAP website or call 1-800-342-3009.

Residents at risk of running out of home heating fuel or having their heat shut off this cold winter may qualify for additional federal funding recently released thorough the Home Energy Assistance Program, officials announced Monday. (more…)

08/05/13 2:30pm
08/05/2013 2:30 PM
Calverton EPCAL sign

MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | One of two signs marking the EPCAL entrance along Route 25.

The state bill that would fast track development applications at the Enterprise Park at Calverton was approved by both house sof the state Legislature in late June, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to sign it into law.

Still, locally elected state officials say they are not worried, and that the governor is presented with hundreds of bills to sign in a given year.

“Obviously, I would like it signed sooner than later but I don’t think there is a cause to be concerned at this point,” said Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter.

“It just hasn’t been delivered to the governor yet,” said Drew Biondo, an aide to state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who was a sponsor of the bill.

Both men said they’ve been given no indication the bill has run into any opposition at the executive level.

“From what I’ve heard, the governor takes these bills in batches,” Mr. Walter said.

A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo said the governor considers about 100 bills a week. Once a bill is presented to the governor, he has a week to either sign it into law or veto it, she said.

She said the governor’s office doesn’t generally comment on bills until they are signed or vetoed.

The timing of the signing of the bill is not a concern at this point because the town still needs to adopt an environmental impact statement for the plan, Mr. Walter said, and that’s not expected to be done until next year some time.

“So this proposal wouldn’t really get rolling until next year anyway,” Mr. Walter said.

The bill establishes a generic environmental impact study, or GEIS, at the outset, to cover all possible development proposals for the town-owned land in Calverton that meet a re-use plan agreed upon by the town, county and state, officials have said.

Any fully engineered development proposal for land within the area covered by the study will be guaranteed approval within 90 days of the application being filed.

If an application isn’t approved in that time frame, it would receive a default approval.

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06/02/13 8:40am
06/02/2013 8:40 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Some of the North Fork's corn crops are known to be grown from genetically modified seeds.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Some of the North Fork’s corn crops are known to be grown from genetically modified seeds.

New York could become the first state in the nation to require that genetically modified foods be labeled as such, a move farmers say could put locally grown produce at a disadvantage.

State Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) have sponsored legislation to require mandatory labeling of genetically modified food. The bills follow years of debate over the safety of genetically modified foods, which were introduced in the early l990s. Legislation has been proposed in several states, including California, where it was put before voters in 2012 as Proposition 37 and failed by a slim margin. Bills have been introduced more recently in Connecticut and Maine.

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is produced when genes from one species are extracted and artificially introduced into the genes of another, according to the American Heritage Medical Dictionary.

The practical applications of this process include giving a plant the ability to produce its own pesticide to deter insects, thereby saving farmers having to apply costly and potentially dangerous pesticides, according to the Institute for Responsible Technology, which investigates the risks and impacts of GMO foods.

Major GMO food crops include soy, cotton and corn, said Dale Moyer, associate executive director of agriculture for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk. It’s not employed on fresh fruits and vegetables such as oranges or peppers.

Varieties of sweet corn are the only GMO crops grown on the North Fork intended for human consumption, but they’re very limited, Mr. Moyer said. Some area farmers also grow field corn, used primarily as animal feed, he added.

Under the pending legislation sweet corn varieties grown from genetically modified seeds would fall under the mandatory labeling requirement.

“Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food,” said Mr. LaValle. “Essentially, if a foodstuff is produced using genetic engineering, this must be indicated on its label.”

But Steve Ammerman, spokesperson for the NYS Farm Bureau, said mandatory labeling is unnecessary.

“We believe the policies should be based on sound science, and the science so far is that GMO foods are safe,” Mr. Ammerman said. “Labeling would imply that GMO foods are not.”

He argues that labeling will put GMO-grown products at a disadvantage when placed next to other produce. “If a consumer walked up and saw a label that said ‘Contains GMO,’ it misleads the consumer,” he said.

Kathleen Furey, director of GMO Free New York, said genetically modified foods have not been proven safe. There have not been any long-term, independent, peer-reviewed human consumption studies to support that claim, she said. The longest study to date on GMO foods ran about two years and involved rats, not humans, she said.

The study, led by French scientist Gilles-Eric Séralini, found that mice fed a diet of genetically modified corn experienced increased mortality, tumors and organ damage compared to a control group that was fed non-modified corn, said Ms. Furey.

“We deserve the right to know what were eating,” she said.

About 80 percent of what shoppers see on supermarket shelves contain GMOs, said Ms. Furey. Many of the products are processed foods, including infant formulas.

Consumers do have one way of spotting GMO-free foods. Certified organic foods do not contain genetically modified products, Mr. Ammerman said.

If labeling is mandated, farmers would rather see labeling say something like “GMO free” as compared to “contains GMO,” said Joe Gergela, director of the Long Island Farm Bureau.

The legislation is expected to come up for a vote before the current legislative session ends June 20.

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