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Rocky Point

Rocky Point school board trustee, John Lessler, middle, said he wanted to further review the financial effects of the exemption. File photo by Erika Karp

Green buildings in Rocky Point are no longer eligible for a school tax exemption.

Just three months after the Rocky Point school board granted a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — commonly known as LEED  — buildings tax exemption, the board voted to withdraw it.

Trustee Melissa Brown made the motion, which passed 4-1, shortly after 11 p.m. at the school board meeting on March 23. Trustee Scott Reh, who voted for the exemption in December, cast the single dissenting vote.

Brown said she made the motion in light of the “uncertainty of our financial future.”

It was the second time a motion was made to rescind the exemption.

The first time was in January, when Trustee John Lessler wanted to further review the financial ramifications the exemption would have on other taxpayers.

Lessler’s motion failed, 3-2, with him and Trustee Sean Callahan voting in the minority. The two trustees had originally voted against the tax break.

At the time, Lessler said he believed it was a property owner’s private decision to build to LEED standards and not one that should be subsidized by the school district.

The exemption applies to residential and commercial buildings.

“It’s a heavy implication in the future if more and more of these homes do it,” he said.

Depending on the level of LEED certification, property owners could have avoided paying school taxes for a certain number of years. New buildings with the highest level of LEED certification would have been exempt for the first six years, then would have received reduced taxes in the following four years.

The state enacted the LEED exemption program in 2012, authorizing local municipalities and school districts to grant the exemption. In 2013, Brookhaven Town crafted its own tax break based on the state initiative. The town has yet to receive any applications for the exemption, according to Jim Ryan, Brookhaven’s tax assessor.

Rocky Point would have been the first area school district to offer the exemption. Neighboring districts such as Miller Place, Shoreham-Wading River, Mount Sinai, Comsewogue, Port Jefferson and Middle Country have not filed to offer the exemption, according to The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Rocky Point resident Danny Andersen brought the program to the district’s attention last year and urged the board to adopt it. Andersen could not be reached for comment regarding the board’s decision.

Board President Susan Sullivan, who voted to adopt the exemption and to rescind it, said the board could revisit the matter in the future once it receives more information. The school district has granted tax exemptions in the past, including last year’s veterans tax exemption. Under that program, veterans get a certain reduction in their school taxes and other taxpayers make up the difference.

Miller Place property could be developed

The property is adjacent to Cordwood Landing County Park off of Landing Road in Miller Place. Photo by Erika Karp

A parcel of wooded land next to Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place is up for grabs, and the community isn’t letting the land be developed without a fight.

The 5.4-acre parcel, which backs up to the more than 64-acre county park off of Landing Road, has value to the residents of Miller Place, and according to Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), constituents have been making it clear that the land needs to be preserved.

A website and Facebook group, operating under the name Friends of Cordwood Landing, was launched a few months ago, and the group has been advocating for the land’s preservation. A representative from the group could not be reached for comment.

Back in December 2014, Anker began the process of acquiring the land from its owner, Rocky Point developer Mark Baisch, of Landmark Properties. The legislature unanimously voted to start the acquisition process so that the county could protect the area, which Anker described in a phone interview on March 17 as “residential,” from possible commercialization or industrialization. The county has hired appraisers to determine the land’s worth. According to law, the county can’t pay any more than the appraised value.

Anker said she would like to see the land become a part of the waterfront property of Cordwood Landing.

“I am a true environmentalist,” Anker said. “I will do everything I can to advocate and move this parcel forward through the acquisition process.”

According to Town of Brookhaven planning documents, Baisch submitted a request for a subdivision back in January. In a recent phone interview, Baisch said he would like to build homes on the land. However, if the county’s offer is sufficient, he said he would sell the land.

Anker said the proposal to acquire the land is currently in its early stages and is awaiting approval from the Environmental Trust Fund Review Board. If approved, the proposal will head to the Environmental, Planning, and Agriculture Committee, of which Anker is a member. She expects the proposal to get there by April.

In 2013, the county tried to purchase the land from its original owner, but the owner refused to sell.

Just do it
A 35-year-old Bay Shore man was arrested in Stony Brook on Nesconset Highway on March 21 at about 4:43 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man stole two pairs of Nike sneakers from Sports Authority.

You’ve got mail
Police said a 28-year-old man from Brooklyn was arrested in Setauket-East Setauket on March 17 at Brewster Lane and charged with two counts of petit larceny. Police said the man, who was arrested at about 1:15 p.m., stole two pieces of mail from a mailbox on Brewster Lane.

Hit the gas
A driver made off without paying for gas after fueling up at a BP gas station on Route 25 in Setauket-East Setauket sometime around 8:54 p.m. on March 22. Police described the car as an older, dark-colored Toyota.

A hairy situation
Police said someone broke into a Cactus Salon on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket just after midnight on March 19. A piece of cement was thrown at a rear glass door and a suspect walked through, but police said nothing was taken.

Off the grid
A resident of Patchogue Road in Port Jefferson Station reported an unknown person had cut cable wires at their residence on March 20 at approximately 2 a.m.

Clean sweep
A ring was stolen from a 2005 Toyota Land Cruiser while it was at a Port Jefferson Station car wash on Route 347. The grand larceny occurred on March 19 at 11 a.m.

Cash station
An employee at a Port Jefferson Station gas station on Route 25A reported a white male had attempted to purchase cigarettes, but then demanded and stole cash from the cash register. He then fled from the scene. According to police, the incident occurred on March 17 at around 8 a.m.

Not very loyal
A gold claddagh ring and other items were stolen from a North Bicycle Path residence in Port Jefferson Station sometime between 8:30 p.m. on March 16 and 5 p.m. on March 17.

Brawling
A person was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in the early morning of March 22 after an altercation at Schafer’s in Port Jefferson. According to police, the victim was punched in the face and no arrests have been made.

A taxing crime
A Port Jefferson resident fell victim to an IRS letter scam on March 16. According to police, the Longfellow Lane resident mailed a check in response to a fraudulent letter.

Cat burglar nap
A 23-year-old Miller Place man was arrested in Port Jefferson Station for criminal mischief and burglary on March 20 after he broke into a commercial building on North Country Road in Port Jefferson by breaking the window and fell asleep inside.

Cheap ride
A 31-year-old Holbrook woman was arrested in Port Jefferson after she refused to pay for a cab service on March 20.

Sneaky critter
An unknown individual damaged the basement door of the Miller Place Animal Hospital on Route 25A on March 17 at around 2:30 a.m. Police said the suspect broke the door’s windowpane.

To the max
The RE/MAX Alliance office in Miller Place was robbed of laptops, office furniture and cash between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. on March 17.

Airing his dirty laundry
An unknown man entered the Rocky Point Laundromat on Broadway and demanded money on March 22. He then fled the business without taking anything.

When a stranger calls
A resident of Sunburst Drive in Rocky Point reported receiving threatening phone calls from an unknown person on March 19.

Can’t Beats the police
A Ridge man was charged with petit larceny on March 19 for stealing two Fitbit watches and two Beats headphones from the Rocky Point Kohl’s.

Space opens up
An unknown person forced their way into an ExtraSpace Storage unit in Centereach and removed three motors and parts on March 21, shortly after 3:30 a.m.

Carjacked
A 1999 Honda Civic parked on North Coleman Road in Centereach was stolen between 7:15 p.m. on March 19 and 9 a.m. on March 20.

Ganged up on
A man was punched by an unknown number of males at a BP gas station in Selden on March 21 shortly before 2:30 a.m. It was unclear if the man needed medical attention, and the group of assailants fled.

Scratched
An 18-year-old Selden man was arrested in Selden for criminal mischief after he scratched the passenger side door of a 2014 Toyota Camry on March 22.

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Proposals won't be on this year's May ballot

Rocky Point's plant facilities administrator, Chris Malone, listens to a question regarding the proposed capital improvements. Photo by Erika Karp

Meeting cancellations and a growing list of projects proved too much for Rocky Point school board trustees, who decided on Monday not to propose a capital improvements bond this May as they needed more time to sort through specifics of the proposal.

Chris Malone, the district’s plant facilities administrator, along with Larry Galante, a member of the facilities planning subcommittee and district architect John Grillo returned to the Rocky Point High School auditorium Monday night with an updated list of projects that totaled a little more than $20 million.

In January, the men presented a $17 million project list, which included installing new ceilings, windows and LED lighting; redoing bathrooms; upgrading security; installing turf fields and solar panels at the high school; and improving air-conditioning and heating systems, among other items.

Projects such as wrestling room renovations, redesigning the cafeteria at the Joseph A. Edgar school and new bleachers and sports lights at the lower fields were added into Monday’s presentation.

More than an hour into the presentation, and after numerous questions from the audience, school board President Susan Sullivan broke her silence and said if the board wanted the bond on the May ballot, everything would need to be final by Thursday.

“Quite honestly our heads are spinning and it’s not going to happen,” she said.

Later in the evening, the board tabled a State Environmental Quality Review Act resolution regarding the capital improvements. State law mandates SEQRA and governing bodies must approve the determination 45 days prior to a vote.

A few audience members said they were curious about how officials determined what items to include in the proposal. While they said they agreed updates are needed — original lockers, equipment and tiling exists in the schools — they questioned if some projects fell into more of a “wish” category.

Resident Jennifer Intravaia said she was a “little bit sticker shocked” after seeing the updated list.

“I think we need to seriously look at our priorities,” she said.

In response to Intravaia’s comment, Superintendent Michael Ring said it was a good point, and the school board would be reviewing the items, which were included based on feedback from many different individuals in the district.

Monday night’s presentation was delayed by nearly two months, as the school board’s meetings on Feb. 2, which was then rescheduled to March 3, were both cancelled due to snow.

While the board decided to not pitch the bond in May, it could still move to bring the proposal — or another version of it — to a vote in the future. Under the current plan, the bond would be separated into two different proposals: Priority I and Priority II. The latter would only pass if voters approve Priority I.

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