13. Public Participation and Community Outreach
 
 
13.1 Overview

The community outreach component of the Central Pine Barrens Comprehensive Land Use Plan originates in Environmental Conservation Law Section 57-0121(11) which states that the Commission shall "consult with interested professional, scientific and citizens' organizations and committees" during the development of the land use plan.

In order to meet this mandate, the Central Pine Barrens Commission sponsored public meetings throughout Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton in the past twelve months. Over 1500 people have heard directly about the legislation and the process of preparing the draft plan, and have expressed their thoughts about the planning process. Others have personally written or called the Commission with their concerns and questions. Additional people have heard about the planning process through press coverage.

Following the adoption of a final land use plan, continued efforts will be made to make the final plan known to all interested persons. A public hearing will be held on the proposed final plan and individual towns may choose to hold separate public hearings on issues that relate specifically to their locale. Finally, no program would be successful without the input of the very interested individuals who took the time to become involved. To those who did attend a meeting or otherwise participate, thank you.
 

13.2 Introduction

The goal of the community outreach program is to provide a variety of forums whereby the public can comment and participate in the planning process resulting in a land use plan that reflects the concerns of all interested individuals. To accomplish this task, several levels of public interaction have been necessary and will continue following the release of the final plan. Of special concern are private landowners within the Core Preservation Area and civic and community groups in the adjacent Compatible Growth and surrounding areas.

Landowners are understandably concerned about land protection mechanisms, compensation techniques and desire general information about the planning process. The first major outreach effort, designed for the private landowners in the Core Preservation Area, was a public meeting held on March 16, 1994. An overview of the Pine Barrens Protection Act was presented and a panel of Pine Barrens representatives were available for questions and answers. In addition, private landowners within the Core Preservation Area have written and called the Commission office and are and continue to be assisted by the Commission staff on an individual basis. An additional briefing session for private landowners was held on August 27, 1994 at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The purpose of the smaller, community informational meetings was to reach as many stakeholder groups as possible in and around the Central Pine Barrens zone, give general information about the work of the Commission, answer questions and receive comments. Over 1500 people attended the 31 meetings held to date. In addition to the smaller community meetings, three larger, public briefing sessions were held, one in each town. Following these, a public hearing for the plan and the draft environmental impact statement was held on September 28, 1994.

To specifically deal with members of the communities that will be affected by the Pine Barrens Credit program, a community design workshop was held in each town. The purpose of the workshops was to have communities determine what elements of the built environment they appreciate and value and how they would like to see their community develop in the future. By involving the public in the planning and design process, concerns about negative impacts of development can be mitigated before development proposals are prepared and submitted.
 
 
13.3 Review of Meetings

13.3.1 Core Preservation Area Landowners

On March 16, 1994, in response to a mailing by the Commission to all property owners within the Core Preservation Area, over 350 persons attended a meeting to hear an overview of the planing process and to ask questions regarding a variety of issues. The meeting was arranged by representatives from the Advisory Committee, the Commission and the Suffolk County Planning Department. More than 20 people spoke on a variety of issues.

On August 27, 1994, at Brookhaven National Laboratory a briefing session specifically for Core Preservation Area landowners was held. The format for this session consisted of various stations set up with the following topics and agencies represented to answer individual questions:

General Information/Survey Collection

Suffolk County Water Authority

List of Core Owners/Plan Info/Comments

Suffolk County Water Authority

Suffolk County Planning Department

Pine Barrens Credit Program

Suffolk County Water Authority

Regional Plan Association

The New Jersey Pinelands Commission

Acquisition Programs/Conservation Easements

Suffolk County Division of Real Estate

Suffolk County Planning Department

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The Nature Conservancy

Peconic Land Trust

Hardship Exemption/Existing Uses/Compatible Growth Area

Suffolk County Water Authority

Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference

All Core Preservation Area landowners were sent a letter inviting them to the August 27, 1994 session and a landowner survey which they had the option to complete and return. The main purpose of the survey was to give landowners the opportunity to receive more information if they were not able to attend the meeting and also for Commission staff to further ascertain a profile of this group. A total of 3500 surveys were sent and 362 were returned.

The following breakdown shows the locations where these landowners reside as well as the size of the parcels that they own:

Figure 13-1: Landowner Survey Summary: Breakdown By Location of Owner

Locations

Town of Brookhaven 51 14%
Town of Riverhead 14 4%
Town of Southampton 13 3.5%
Suffolk County (remaining) 47 13%
Nassau County 64 17.5%
New York City (5 boroughs) 53 14.5%
New York State 20 5.5%
Florida 19 5%
New Jersey 12 3%
California 10 3%
Pennsylvania 9 2.4%
Ohio 5 1.3%
Virginia 5
Louisiana 5
Connecticut 4 1.1%
North Carolina 4
Massachusetts 4
Maryland 3 <1%
Tennessee 2 <1%
New Mexico 2
Georgia 2
Rhode Island 2
Illinois 2
Mississippi 1 <1%
Missouri 1
Kansas 1
Vermont 1
Texas 1
South Carolina 1
Colorado 1
Alabama 1
Arizona 1
Israel 1

Breakdown by Acreage

Of the 362 landowners that responded a total of 466 parcels were listed as some owners hold more than one parcel. The following overview gives a breakdown of the size of these parcels in acres:

< .25 180 38%
.25-.5 69 15%
.5-1.0 60 13%
1.0-5.0 105 22.5%
5.0-10.0 19 4%
10-50 22 5%
50-100 10 2%
>100 1 <1%

13.3.2 Community Meetings

A list of community organizations including civic organizations, local and regional environmental and business groups and other stakeholders was complied by Commission staff. Initially, groups were contacted individually to inform them of the Commission's outreach program. Following the adoption of the draft plan, a mailing to all groups was made informing them of the availability of the draft plan and the availability of staff to speak to the group if desired. The meetings took place throughout the Central Pine Barrens zone. The smaller size of the community meetings allowed the time to focus in on one group's needs and concerns.

The formats for the meetings consisted of an overview of the Central Pine Barrens legislation and its requirements, the people responsible for fulfilling them, and most importantly, how this information would affect the particular group.

General information such as fact sheets and meeting schedules were handed out and maps were presented that showed how the boundaries of the Core Preservation Area and Compatible Growth Area related to the area the group was representing. In some cases, slides showing development options for compact growth patterns were presented. In all cases, the opportunity for interactive question and answer sessions was provided.

13.3.3 Public Briefing Sessions

The public briefing sessions took place after the adoption of the draft plan on three consecutive Wednesday nights in September 1994. The main purpose of these meetings was to inform people of the contents of the draft plan and answer their pertinent questions and concerns. Again a station method was utilized. The following topics and agencies were present:

General Information

Suffolk County Water Authority
Pine Barrens Credit Program
Town of Brookhaven
Suffolk County Water Authority
Regional Plan Association
Land Management
Open Space Council
Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference
Ecology
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
The Nature Conservancy
Long Island Builders Institute
Land Protection
The Nature Conservancy
Generic Environmental Impact Statement
Suffolk County Water Authority
Compatible Growth Area/Hardship Exemption
Suffolk County Water Authority
Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference


13.3.4 Community Design Workshops

1. Purpose

The purpose of the workshops was to engage the public in an active, hands-on, participatory process of analysis and design for future development within their community. A concentrated focus on the existing built environment, coupled with a vision for possible future alternatives, provided the members of the community with the opportunity to help shape the physical form and character of their physical surroundings.

2. Preparation

a. Determination of Study Areas

In Brookhaven, with the approval of the Planning Commissioner for the Town of Brookhaven and the Central Pine Barrens transfer of development rights working committee, the Moriches Bay area planned development districts were selected for further analysis and community outreach efforts by Regional Plan Association. (The draft plan (July 14, 1994) receiving area map outlined three PDD's for this area known as part of A, B & C) Analysis of the Moriches Bay area indicated that while there are three separate and distinct communities; Moriches, Center Moriches and East Moriches, any plan for the future development should look at these areas as a whole and respect the natural boundaries that form the overall "sub-region." For the purposes of this study, the natural boundaries that create the Moriches Bay area were determined to be the Forge River on the west, Sunrise Highway on the north, Little Seatuck Creek on the east, and the Moriches Bay along the south.

In Southampton, the Speonk-Remsenburg school district contains a considerable portion of land within the Core Preservation Area and thus had several areas designated in the draft plan for the use of Pine Barrens Credits. Again, a comprehensive approach was taken and the study area was made of all the land south of Sunrise Highway to Moriches Bay. The eastern boundary was generally the school district boundary, but also followed the Speonk River and its associated watershed. To the west, the study area extended beyond the Speonk-Remsenburg district into the Eastport district. This was due to the fact that the East River and accompanying watershed form the natural boundary of the Speonk-Remsenburg community on the west.

In Riverhead, the delineation for receiving areas was limited in the draft plan to the Calverton area at the junction of the Long Island Expressway exits 72 and 73 and south of Route 25 and Route 58. To the west, the boundary is delineated by the Grumman property and to the east is defined approximately by Kroemer Avenue. This entire receiving areas were chosen for further analysis and community outreach by Regional Plan Association.

b. Study Area Mapping

A base map of tax lots was generated through the Suffolk County Water Authority geographic information system at a scale of 1 inch representing 400 feet. Topographic information was obtained from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works. This information was overlaid and drawn on the tax lot base map. Current aerial photography was overlaid and used to draw in existing buildings and other site information. School district boundaries and road names was also added. Maps were prepared for each study area and used during the workshops to go through the mapping exercises outlined below. These maps will also be used in further analysis to determine what is feasible for future development. These maps are not included here, but are available for review at the Commission office.

The following outline formed the basis for the agenda of the community design workshops:

3. Workshop Program

a. Introduction (30 min - full group)

An overview of the intent of the workshop, the format and agenda was presented. Smaller break-out groups consisting of 5-10 people will be formed. Other display material including zoning and land use maps, photographs and other relevant information will be presented and made available during the workshop.

b. Participant Orientation (15 min - break-out groups)

The first exercise was to ask participants to mark on the map where they live or work, or are otherwise associated with the study area. This aided in orienting people to the map and the area it encompassed.

c. Assets and Liabilities (20 min - break-out groups)

Participants were asked to mark areas on the map which are the most important assets to the community including favorite places, special buildings or landscapes, or other elements which are essential to the quality of life in their community. In contrast, they also marked on the map any structures, land uses or other factors that threaten the quality of life in the community.

d. Future Growth (20 min - break-out groups)

In this exercise participants were asked to choose where they see future growth within their community and what types of activities this includes, (i.e., recreational, more housing, industrial, etc.), what land uses are needed for what purpose and where should they be located. How does existing zoning allow or hinder desirable future growth patterns?

e. Group Presentation (60 min - full groups)

Groups representatives were asked to present their findings to all members of the community. This information was helpful in summarizing the similarities and differences that each group observed. As a group, participants were asked to consider real world constraints and prioritize proposed actions.

4. Workshop Results

The results of the workshops contain an account of what the people said during each program element.

Brookhaven (Moriches Bay Area)

The Moriches Bay area community design workshop was co-sponsored by the Moriches Bay Civic Association, the Moriches Bay Chamber of Commerce and the East Moriches Property Owners Association. Mailings were done by each group to their memberships and a press release was also prepared and published for the event.

Assets
Rural Area
Quiet area but close to activity
Marine Resources
Havens Estate Nature Preserve (woods & beach)
High Property Values
Recreational opportunities
Active Agriculture
Employment Opportunities
Downtown

Liabilities
Composting Facility
Duck Farms (abandoned)
Strip Malls
Empty Stores
Property Taxe
Gas Leak
Low Tax Base

Recommendations for Future Growth
Maintain rural character
Allow clean industry such as medical arts facilities on the Moriches By-Pass
Provide affordable housing
Leave Havens Estate as nature preserve
Bay Avenue site should have lower density housing
Seek community development funds for downtown East Moriches improvements
Require architectural reviews for main streets
Improve parking behind existing stores
Utilize parking at Center Moriches firehouse
Improve intersection at Montauk Highway and Frowein Boulevard.
Provide day care centers
Keep active agricultural uses and provide for agri-business and farm markets
Keep Main Street as a focus of retail activity
Provide recreational facility near high school including tennis, swimming, horse stables, skating, basketball, etc.
Allow bed and breakfast facilities, particularly at places like the Marcos Estate.
Provide a golf course possibly, as a reclamation of a disturbed area
Explore possible tourist uses
Improve marina facilities including a ferry to ocean beaches
Provide cultural facilities possibly along Terrells River corridor, utilizing existing historic building (e.g., the Ketcham Inn)

Southampton (Speonk-Remsenburg)

The Speonk-Remsenburg community design workshop was co-sponsored by the Remsenburg Association, the Speonk-Remsenburg Civic Association and the Citizens Advisory Committee. Individual mailings were made by these groups and a press release was prepared and published.

Assets
Main Street character
Open field at west end of hamlet
Recreational opportunities
Historic marker on Clay Pit Road
Mill building
Active farmland on Old Country
Yacht squadron
Hamlet center
East Pond
Railroad Station architecture

Liabilities
Candy's Magic Pub
Abandoned warehouse on North Phillips
Drag strip (noise)
Industrial uses along Speonk-Riverhead Road
Houses built on marsh
Law office at east hamlet entry

Recommendations for Future Growth
Provide senior citizen housing where Candy's Magic Pub is located. Preserve old post office located at the rear of the building.
Provide interconnected trail system to link coastal areas, school, hamlet center and Pine Barrens.
Provide public access points to bay.
Provide a public park at the site of the old quarry pond.
Provide affordable housing.
Reclaim abandoned sand mines
Explore business zoning designation for west side of North Phillips Avenue so that old buildings could be re-used. Alternative business zoning.
Preserve farmland and explore possibility for a community farm.
Town should police any illegal activity on Speonk-Riverhead Road.
Keep future retail uses south of Long Island Railroad
Provide sidewalks to hamlet center.
Redesign and coordinate hamlet center parking.

Riverhead (Calverton)

The Calverton community design workshop was co-sponsored by the Calverton Civic Association and Long Island Farm Bureau. Individual mailings were made by these groups and a press release was prepared and published.

Assets
Open agricultural lands
Farmstands
Splish-Splash
Horse farm
Calverton Links

Liabilities
Omni solid waste facility

Recommendations for Future Growth
Coordinate Pine Barrens Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) with agricultural TDRs
Buffer new development with vegetation
Allow recreational uses as per the hamlet study
Preserve agricultural uses
Prevent excessive curb cuts along Route 25

13.3.5 Expert Panel Meetings

On three occasions after the adoption of the draft plan, outside experts covering three topical areas of the plan were brought in for roundtable discussions with various groups involved in the planning process. These were as follows:

October 3, 1994 - Mr. Paul Millmore, Conservation & Management Specialist, East Sussex, England. A lecture and slide presentation was given and the following groups were invited: Land Management Committee, Ecology Committee, Protected Lands Council, SC Parks and Trails Working Group.

October 17, 1994 - Dr. James Nicholas, TDR Consultant, University of Florida. Dr. Nicholas had done some analysis of land values in the Central Pine Barrens to assess the viability of a TDR program in this region. Two sessions were held, one for Town officials and one for the TDR Committee.

October 25, 1994 - Armando Carbonell, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commission and Andy Young, Former Selectman, Town of Chatham, Massachusetts. The Cape Cod Commission is very similar to the Central Pine Barrens Commission as it is a regional entity controlled by town governments. Two sessions were held, one for Town officials and one for civic groups.

13.3.6 Meeting Summary

The following list summarizes all public meetings held to date with the number of attendees as shown on the sign-in sheets:

DATE / GROUP (NUMBER OF ATTENDEES)

March 16 Core Preservation Area Landowner Meeting (350)
April 18 Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization (15)
May 12 East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee (7)
May 12 Peconic Estuary Program Citizens Advisory Committee (18)
May 19 North Fork Environmental Council (14)
May 23 Town of Riverhead Economic Development Task Force (8)
June 2 Manorville Taxpayers Association (64)
June 8 Quogue/Westhampton/Speonk/
Remsenburg Citizens Advisory Committee (10)
June 14 Citizens Campaign for the Environment (30)
June 16 Long Island Association, Energy & Environment Committee (30)
June 22 Wading River Civic Association (19)
July 14 Speonk-Remsenburg Civic Association (15)
July 15 Lake Panamoka Civic Association (50)
August 17 Ridge Civic Association (25)
August 18 Village of Quogue Trustees/Compatible Growth Area Landowners(20)
August 28 Core Preservation Area Landowners Workshop (225)
September 7 Town of Riverhead Public Information Meeting (25)
September 12 League of Women Voters of the Hamptons (12)
September 14 Town of Brookhaven Public Information Meeting (50)
September 21 Town of Southampton Public Information Meeting (45)
September 19 Remsenburg Association (10)
September 22 Moriches Bay Civic Association (35)
September 28 Draft Land Use Plan and GEIS Public Hearing (225)
October 5 Design Professional's Coalition (75)
October 11 Moriches Bay Chamber of Commerce (15)
October 20 Speonk-Remsenburg Community Design Workshop (12)
October 28 Moriches Bay Community Design Workshop (35)
November 3 East Yaphank Civic Association (6)
November 7 Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association (30)
November 9 Calverton Community Design Workshop (15)
November 14 Mastic/Shirley Chamber of Commerce (40)