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April 21st Public Hearing on Dock Regs

Public Hearing on Dock Regulations,
April 21st 7:35pm, 2009, Southold Town Hall

By John Kramer

If you read the proposed New Dock Regulations for building a dock in the bay, you will quickly realize that the real purpose is to prohibit building a dock and, further, it will eliminate the majority of the 41 existing docks as well because they will not conform to the new standard!  That means no repairs after storms, no maintenance unless they are brought into compliance with the new law, which will be impossible.  So not only are we preventing the building of new docks, but the way Chapter 275 was enacted, all docks are now subject to permitting according to current regulation.  Hope you didn’t think the fact that you have an old dock makes your situation “grandfathered!” ** I hope you read this regulation and make your own assessment of this approach to controlling your life on the East End.  My objections follow.

I don’t live on the bay, and don’t know who owns the 654 parcels of un-built dock sites that represent the full build out. I may know 4 or 5 of the 41 existing dock owners.  My objection is to the process and the degradation of individual rights this promotes.

Please attend the hearing to tell your Town Board Members how YOU feel.



In Section I, PURPOSE, it talks about areas of “significant public value.” Somehow public value is always paramount to the private ownership value, and public value never has a cost, it’s always a right and it’s always free.  Private ownership value is never valued, but is extremely costly and never ending.  It is the private ownership value that drives our local economy and pays for all the regulation that comes out of Town Hall.

I would submit that the “Shore-dwelling Taxpayer” is less valued by this proposed regulation than a clam.  I think the “interests” of the public can be accommodated without the abrogation of private property rights.


You may have to read a few DEC, DOS, Peconic Estuary Program, and similar documents to get the full impact of the slant these things put on words you thought you understood.

The other day I was astonished to read that you can “access a creek and yard visually!”   A concept that prompts me to consider the use of large mirrors on my lawn to protect against “visual trespass.” In a previous post HERE, I enumerated the zone overlays and one on top of the other, enough were selected to guarantee that the entire bay is covered and no dock can be built.


In Section II, paragraph 2 [a] of the proposed new legislation, PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES AND EXCLUSIONS, it specifically details all the different overlay matrix used as reasons to prohibit the dock: none are which are based on Southold Town code or standard.  All are merely assessments by various departments and organizations which give themselves the deciding vote on the use of our local waters.  This again is the trend I object to; a trend that will eventually become Federal law.

  • Section II, paragraph 2 [a] [i]. Northeast Coastal Areas Study Significant Coastal Habitat Areas. This is a congressionally funded study, done in 1990, of Significant Coastal Habitat of a wide range of species including nuisance species. The next, Department of State Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat Areas, is the same thing, but from the NYS DEC.  I guess what one doesn’t cover the other does.  No dock if you are in either of the above.

Below that are are four more exclusions, namely Section II, paragraph 2 [a] [i] 1, 2, 3 & 4. These are the last 4 mappings and if you are in any two of the four, your dock is eliminated.  That’s both existing and new docks.

  • The first is the NYS DEC Critical Environmental Areas and according to the DEC website, you can nominate your favorite area of “public interest” (other people’s property) for inclusion.  The next three maps are DEC, Peconic Estuary Program and Dept of State maps.

Note: The map is a very large 4MB file, so clicking the reduced file image below will take you to a separate link to download the original file, which you can then zoom in sufficiently close to identify mapping areas and individual properties.

Is it important what they are mapping?  Go to the websites and see what they are doing.  If it’s pretty and nice, it’s on the map.  Is your property pretty and nice?  You’re in trouble.  Do you like this style of government so far?  If so, welcome to the New Hamptons!


The next section, Section II, Paragraph 2 [a] [ii] Seeding and Harvest Areas is really interesting.  Oyster growers are on Pipes Cove and I guess they don’t want docks and Bayshore Road residents seem to be content to not have the opportunity to apply for a dock permit. The public resource ‘values’ outweigh all other considerations.

The next I find fascinating, and can’t wait to learn more: Section II, Paragraph 2 [a] [iii] Exclusion. Excluded from all this mess is the Orient village waterfront!  How did they get so lucky?  What/who do they know that the rest of the town doesn’t?  Yacht clubs are already excluded, so it’s not the prospect of 250 OYC members upset at losing their dock.  I think it’s great that they are missing this bullet this time, and I hope for their sake the exclusion is permanent.  (Is anything permanent at Town Hall?)

Section II, Paragraph 2 [b]  Additional Regulations reminds me of the novel “Catch 22.” As I have posted earlier, it is an obvious sham to come up with a standard that precludes your dock because you can’t reach 4′ of depth in 65′ of dock length.  Length is measured from the high tide mark, and the depth is measured at low tide.  No way!

Then we learn that the dock in the bay can’t use CCA in the pilings.  CCA is very nasty, so nasty that 41 residential docks in Peconic Bay will do a great deal of harm to the fish and wildlife until those docks need repair and must be removed for lack of a permit.  However, the DEC in their 2000 report on the use of CCA in open salt water found no problem with its use.  And have you noticed when you visit the vineyards, the thousands of CCA posts every 10′ which are presumably leaching into your wine and the ground water?  No problem there right?  Could a bottle of Peconic Bay water test higher for CCA toxins than a bottle of local wine?  I drink local wine…maybe THAT’s my problem!


These are my problems with the proposed legislation.  It is intellectually dishonest, and disrespectful of any individual who believes in the basic precepts of the American way of life.  It is a reality that the property owners affected by this directed assault is a very small group – 654 potential  + 41 non-grandfathered docks according to the planners.  I stand up for that minority, it’s the only right thing to do.

We have a Trustee process for permit applications.  It works, and if it needs tuning, tune it.  We don’t need a ban on docks by regulation based on reports and lobbying from non-profits and environmental groups.

That’s how I see it.  What do you think?  Do you see this coming to a creek near you?  Do you see this as increasing or decreasing your enjoyment of life here?

Are docks in the creeks next? What’s to stop them?

Editor’s Note: **You can read more about previous amendments to Chapter 275 of the Town Code by searching this website. Changes made at the end of 2007 say, in effect, “The exceptions/protections from permit requirements […] are limited to structures presently permitted by this chapter.” (Not preexisting, or permitted prior)

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