Town board passes capital bond resolution
ISLIP TOWN—At the Islip Town Board meeting Tuesday afternoon, the board unanimously voted to amend Chapter 68 of the Islip Town Code during a public hearing centered on the regulation of transient rental properties townwide. The board also listened to public testimony regarding an ongoing feral cat problem and claims of light pollution around the East Islip Marina. In addition, the town unanimously voted in favor of a capital bond resolution that failed to pass just two weeks prior.
During the regular business portion of the meeting, the board unanimously passed a $505,000 capital bond resolution that initiated projects for immediate townwide purposes. It includes $90,000 for the acquisition of light vehicles and equipment, $50,000 for tree removal and replacement, $65,000 for the acquisition of prismatic traffic sheeting and $300,000 for security system improvements. The latter would allow for the installation of security cameras at Bay Shore Train Station, which will also soon have its own paid parking program spearheaded by Councilman John Cochrane Jr.
Last meeting, the item failed to meet its supermajority requirement of four votes, with Councilman Anthony Senft and Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt voting no. However, there were no issues this time around.
“We did a little more research and had discussions about this,” said Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “I’m making a motion to amend that $300,000 amount down to $200,000 pending the completion of the program at the Bay Shore Train Station before proceeding with any of the other train stations.”
A number of residents spoke, specifically a group of neighbors residing near a home on Morgan Lane in Bayport. Back in August, they voiced complaints about a town permit that allows the homeowner to offer the residence for short-term renters. Speakers said that the small block had become overrun by transients regularly generating quality-of-life disturbances that negatively impact property values, and asked the board to alter the town code to disallow such renting practices in residential neighborhoods.
“The peace and tranquility of residential areas are being compromised when an unscrupulous homeowner or renter sublets a beautiful estate to throw parties and weddings night after night,” said Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, who spearheaded the initiative.
Short-term rental websites, such as Airbnb, Home Away and VRBO, have become very popular with the general public. Town code now states that a dwelling unit is classified a transient property if the unit is offered on a short-term rental website. Short-term is considered a period less than 14 days, or if the unit is offered for lease, in any medium, for a period of less than 14 nights. Meanwhile, any units on Fire Island will not be affected by the legislation.
Residents expressed gratitude to the board for taking action on the issue and reiterated the need for such restrictions.
“I want to thank you for your efforts,” said Morgan Lane resident Jule Hession. “This is necessary to ensure the stability and safety of the town’s residential neighborhoods. Transients are spreading across towns, and the impact is stressful on everyone involved.”
“It’s a business, not a private residence,” said Morgan Lane resident Steven Mahood. “We’re absolutely a residential community. The block has changed dramatically and it’s become an embarrassment.”
However, attorney Ray Negron spoke on behalf of the homeowner, stating that the town does not have the authority to put such restrictions on rental dwellings.
“Renting is an inalienable right,” said Negron, who cited state real property law. “Labeling people renters and stating that different rights apply to them is the same as any other kind of discrimination. When any municipality passes a law restricting rights, it will be tested in the near future.”
Meanwhile, multiple residents and leaders of animal advocacy groups asked the town board to follow the examples set by other townships by establishing proactive measures to deal with the growing population of feral cats.
“We were once a leader in animal control, but no more,” said former Islip Animal Shelter director Matt Caracciolo, who served in his position for three decades until 2007. “We’ve taken a back seat. The cat problem has only gotten worse, and the only solution that has worked in other parts of the country is TNR (Trap, Neuter and Release). We have groups here that are sincere and united in their cause, which can be addressed for not a lot of money.”
“Something has to be worked out,” said Sayville resident Donna Rinaldi. “This is a man-made problem, and we are more than willing to offer guidance and assistance.”
“There are exploding numbers of feral and stray cats,” said Rita Schrecongost, treasurer of the nonprofit Shelter Link, which offers low-cost feral cat TNR programs for Islip residents. “Well-managed colonies are the answer to the problem. It doesn’t have to cost the town a lot of money. We must as a community all work together towards the ultimate goal for all involved.”
In response, Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said that she recently met with NYS Senator Phil Boyle and has also spoken with the head of the Babylon Animal Shelter.
“We are working on it, and will be putting together a memo with some suggestions on how to move forward,” she said.
A group of East Islip residents also came forward to ask the board to fix light pollution issues present near a baseball field at the East Islip Marina.
“The lights as they exist today are a violation of town code,” said resident John Irwin. “The intrusive lighting hurts our lifestyle, making blackout curtains necessary on the east side of my residence. Those lights are also blinding for a captain trying to steer a boat, making it a navigational hazard as well.”
“This is a formal request to consider new lighting at the East Islip ball fields,” said Susan Irwin. “They’re outdated and need to be down-lighted. It’s been a longstanding problem, and our quality-of-life has suffered as well as our home values.”
“A boater heading west will absolutely be blinded by those lights,” said resident Robert Vormittag. “The lights are very intrusive in every manner, and are an eyesore to the moorings and surrounding areas.”
The board also bid farewell to Councilman Anthony Senft and Town Attorney Robert Cicale, who will be leaving after the New Year to serve as district court judges. They were given a round of applause at the close of the meeting. Carpenter also acknowledged Senft’s replacement, Mary Kate Mullen, who was in attendance.
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