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05/23/14 3:05pm
05/23/2014 3:05 PM
Waterfront homes in Jamesport along the bay. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch, file.)

Waterfront homes in Jamesport along the bay. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch, file.)

New construction and any big renovation projects on Long Island would need modern waste treatment systems installed to better filter nitrogen 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.

These are just a few of the restrictions outlined in a new water quality control measure touted by state Assemblymen Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), during a conference put on by Long Island Clean Water Partnership advocacy groups in Islandia Thursday. (more…)

07/08/13 3:00pm
07/08/2013 3:00 PM
Striped bass on Long Island

MELANIE DROZD PHOTO | A striped bass caught recently in Peconic Bay.

A New York Senate bill to extend the striped bass season by two weeks went belly-up after it failed to make it through an Assembly committee.

The Senate bill, which was approved in May, would have allowed fishermen to harvest striped bass until Dec. 31 of each year, adding another 16 days to the season.

Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) sponsored the bill, and initially proposed to have the season extended to Jan. 15 of each year.

The bill states that extending the season “will help create jobs, boost the Long Island economy, and ensure that quotas can be reached even if affected by natural causes.”

But the bill did not make it out of the state Assembly’s environmental conservation committee, government officials said.

William Young, president of the New York Coalition for Recreational Fishing, a preservation lobby, said the striped bass stock is in decline and that extending the season would threaten the fish.

His group sent letters to assemblymen and senators, urging them to let the bill die.

“The signs are that [the bass population] is not going in the right direction,” he said. “That’s up and down the coast, not just one area.”

A status update of the striped bass stock hasn’t been completed since 2011, said Mike Waine, a coordinator with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which helps to set fishing quotas for commercial operations to protect fish populations.

The commission will complete its latest assessment later this year and release the results in the fall, Mr. Waine said.

Mr. Young said it would be unwise to change fishing regulations without knowing the latest information on the striped bass stock.

“Right now is not the time to do it, there’s a question mark,” he said. “Right now is the time to wait and see what’s coming down the road.”

But Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, said the bill would have helped fishermen meet their quotas, even if stormy weather or other conditions prevented them from getting out to fish.

“[Unfilled quotas are] money that’s gone, basically out to sea,” she said.

The regulations were put in place to protect the bass when their population plummeted in the 1980s. Now the stock has been rebuilt, Ms. Brady said.

“It’d be nice if the regulations would come into the 21st century like the fishermen have,” she said.

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02/15/13 4:00pm
02/15/2013 4:00 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Former congressman George Hochbrueckner addressing the Riverhead Town Board in October.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | George Hochbrueckner addressing the Riverhead Town Board in October.

State legislation needed to create a special commission to fast-track development proposals at Riverhead Town’s Enterprise Park at Calverton was re-introduced in both the state Senate and Assembly last week, officials said.

The bill last year was approved in the Senate but never even came up for a vote in the Assembly.

Supervisor Sean Walter, who has touted the proposed commission as a key to redeveloping the former Grumman site now referred to as EPCAL, said he’s heading up to Albany the week of Feb. 25 to meet with some key Assembly members.

“Congressman Hochbrueckner is my new strategy,” Mr. Walter said of Assembly efforts this go-around. “Last year I went as far as a Republican supervisor for the Town of Riverhead could go, and congressman Hochbruecker is the next step.”

Former congressman George Hochbrueckner, a Democrat who lived in Coram when he held New York’s First Congressional seat in the mid-1990s, was recently hired by the town as a lobbyist on EPCAL issues, since he was the congressman who wrote the legislation that got EPCAL turned over to the town for economic development once the Grumman Corporation left.

In addition to being a congressman, Mr. Hochbrueckner, who now lives in Laurel, served as a state assemblyman before he ran for Congress.

The bill proposed last week is exactly the same as the one submitted last year, according to Drew Biondo, an aide to state Senator Ken Lavalle (R-Port Jefferson), who is again sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), is again the main sponsor in the Assembly, with Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) and Assemblyman Ed Henesssey (D-Medford) as co-sponsors.

The bill is based on legislation used in Devens, Mass, in that is seeks to get all of the players involved in processing development applications at EPCAL in the room at the same time, so that projects aren’t stalled by having to go from one level of government to another.

If approved, it would establish a seven-member commission comprising five Town Board members, along with one member each appointed by the governor and the county executive. There also would be two non-voting, ex-officio members who would come from civic or environmental groups.

Mr. Walter said that he and deputy supervisor Jill Lewis, deputy town attorney Annmarie Prudenti and community development agency director Chris Kempner are also heading upstate with him. They have even registered as state lobbyists for the upcoming trip to Albany, he said.

Mr, Walter said Ms. Prudenti suggested this.

“I personally don’t think the town supervisor has to register as a lobbyist to speak with state representatives,” he said.

Last year, Mr. Walter said there were some officials in the Assembly who wanted the bill to be redrafted to help their own districts, and others who feared it would set a bad precedent in their districts.

“I think it just ran out of time in the Assembly,” Mr. Biondo said.

The commission, which would also have a paid executive director, would be similar to the state Pine Barrens Commission, in that an overall plan for the area in question is developed first, and development applications that comply with that plan can be approved quickly.

The town would retain zoning power, but any plan that is submitted and deemed a complete application must be acted on by the commission within 90 days, or it is automatically approved, according to the proposed legislation.

If the bill fails again, Mr. Walter said that assuming he is re-elected in November, he probably would resubmit it for a third try the next year.

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11/08/12 6:00am
11/08/2012 6:00 AM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Senator Ken LaValle delivers his acceptance speech Tuesday. Mr. LaValle has served in the New York State Senate since 1976.

The past couple years haven’t left us feeling warm and fuzzy about our government.

The historically partisan 112th Congress accomplished very little before returning home Sept. 21, the earliest it’s broken up to begin an election season in more than 50 years.

Our state government’s most effective moments over the past 15 months were spent undoing past missteps, like battling the MTA tax and finally approving marriage equality.

At the county level, we’re constantly reminded that we’re broke, then we have to stand by and listen as legislators and the county executive argue over just how broke we are. Meanwhile, the only fixes they seem interested in making are short-term and we remain no better off financially then we were the year before.

Our one saving grace here on the North Fork has been strong local representation. Now, it appears, we’ll need our elected leaders to flex their muscles more than ever before.

According to early election reports and projections, each of our local elected officials at the state and federal level will likely serve in the minority caucus next year. That will certainly be the case for Congressman Tim Bishop and state Assemblyman Dan Losquadro — and it appears Ken LaValle could be back in the minority in the state Senate.

If a Republican is elected this February to replace Ed Romaine in the County Legislature, we’ll also be represented by a freshman legislator in the minority party.

Now that the election is over, we need our representatives to turn their attention to delivering for the North Fork. And we need them to fight harder than ever before.

We will need firm leadership in battling issues like water pollution as we move forward in the months following superstorm Sandy. We will also need our representatives to continue to fight development and preserve the remaining parcels of open space in our communities, even as funding becomes tougher to come by. Additionally, we keep hearing reports that the helicopter noise issue is being resolved, but that’s usually followed by the sound of choppers overhead.

And, of course, these elected officials will have to do their part to mitigate tax increases as they work to level record deficits.

Each of the local representatives re-elected this week received the support of this editorial board. They received our support because we believe they have what it takes to tackle the many issues facing our communities.

Now, even as they serve in the minority caucus, they have to prove it.