Apartment board stays on the payroll

The Town Board voted 3-2 Tuesday night to retain Riverhead’s accessory apartment review board.

Town Board members Jodi Giglio, John Dunleavy and Jim Wooten voted against dissolving the board, all agreeing that it was a needed service in town. “I think it’s important we have an independent board,” Mr. Wooten said.

Councilman George Gabrielsen and Supervisor Sean Walter voted to disband the board as a cost-saving measure to help close what could amount to a $7 million budget shortfall next year.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to do everything we can to cut the budget,” Mr. Walter said. The accessory apartment law that created the board was passed in 2008 with the goal of encouraging more affordable housing and increasing compliance with building codes. But town officials have said there weren’t as many applications for accessory apartments as expected.

The board reviews every application, visits every site and talks to each applicant.

At the start of the year, the Town Board had reduced the salary of the five review board members from $4,000 each to $2,400.

hearing set FOR eyesore

The Town Board set Wednesday, Sept. 8, as the date for a public hearing to discuss an allegedly unsafe building at the Knolls of Fox Hill in Baiting Hollow. The board voted unanimously to set the hearing date after about 50 members of that community showed up to Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

Mr. Walter asked the community members to send only engineering experts to testify at the hearing, because the board would consider only whether or not the building is structurally sound, not aesthetic issues.

The supervisor said the town fire marshal’s office had already deemed the building unsafe and had started chapter 54 proceedings, which would force the owner, The Knolls of Baiting Hollow, to repair or demolish it.

Crackdown on ‘double wood’

The Town Board voted unanimously to set stiff fines for old and cracked utility poles left tied to newer ones for an extended period of time.

Under the new law, Verizon and the Long Island Power Authority, the utilities that jointly own the poles, will be fined $250 a day per pole, beginning 150 days after initially receiving notice to remove the poles.

Town officials have argued that “double wood” — the term used to describe an old and new pole tethered together — should be left in place for only a short period of time to allow the utility company required to remove the pole to do so.

Officials have estimated there are 500 examples of double wood in Riverhead alone, a situation they say is unsafe as well as an eyesore.

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