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Huntington Town Board

Deer hunting via long bow has been a controversial topic in Huntington Town since first permitted in September 2015. Stock photo

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Deer hunters may need to memorize a new set of regulations in the Town of Huntington before the start of the 2017 hunting season.

Huntington Town Board has scheduled a public hearing for its Sept. 19 meeting on a series of proposed changes affecting the use of longbows for deer hunting.

“Over the past few years we’ve learned some things that have gone on during deer hunting season and want to make it safer for our residents,” Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said.

The proposed changes take aim at restricting the use of a longbow under the town’s firearms regulations, not directly regulating deer hunting which falls under the oversight of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Edwards, sponsor of the legislation, said the changes include requiring all hunters to provide written notification to the Town’s Department of Public Safety and the police department prior to hunting and expanding the definition of what’s considered a dwelling.

“If [hunters] are going to use the longbow we want to ensure that there’s written notification to the police department as we’ve had instances of people walking around the neighborhood, armed, and no one knows who they are,” Edwards said.

The proposed code changes will also expand the definition of a “dwelling”  to include “farm building or farm structures actually occupied or used, school building, school playground, public structure, or occupied factory or church” to prevent hunters from firing at deer within 150 feet of these buildings unless they are the property owner.

“Hunting is already regulated by the DEC so the town … is outside of their scope.”

— Michael Tessitore

If the proposed amendments are passed, anyone violating the regulations would face up to a $500 fine per day and prosecution by the town attorney’s office.

The  public hearing is set to take place mere days before the start of the 2017 deer hunting season, which runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31 under NYSDEC regulations. Town spokesman A.J. Carter said the town board will have the option to immediately enact the proposed code changes Sept. 19 if there are no substantial objections.

The board’s decision to permit bow hunting in September 2015 remains a contentious issue among local residents, particularly in the areas of Eatons Neck and Asharoken, which routinely deal with deer overpopulation.

“We’ve been having big issues with hunting with it since it began in Asharoken and Eatons Neck,” said Nadine Dumser, an Asharoken Village resident.

Dumser, who also owns property in Eatons Neck, said she has dealt with hunters who did not properly notify her as a homeowner they were active in the area but also entered her yard without permission.

“We would call police and complain about hunters being on our property,” she said. “When they finally do come, they are pretty powerless to do anything.”

Others believe that the Town’s efforts to further regulate longbow use oversteps its legal authority.

Michael Tessitore, founder of the nonprofit  Hunters for Deer, said the more than 85 hunters who are members of his organization will continue to follow the DEC regulations.

“Hunting is already regulated by the DEC so the town, by taking these extra steps to regulate hunting, is outside of their scope,” Tessitore said. “I believe they are going to open themselves up to litigation.”

Tessitore, who is a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator, said he helps manage more than 100 private properties including areas in Eatons Neck, Fort Salonga, and Smithtown to make agreements between hunters and homeowners who support hunting as a form a deer population management. He’s also worked with  Southampton Town to design a deer population management plan.

“I support deer hunting as a management tool,” Tessitore said. “It’s the only proven effective management tool for the overpopulation of deer.”

The Grateful Paw Cat Shelter is located on Deposit Road in East Northport. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

By Sara-Megan Walsh

More than a dozen Grateful Paw Cat Shelter volunteers and residents attended the Huntington Town Board meeting Aug. 15 to demand action: Now that the IRS has reinstated its 501(c)(3) charitable status, renew the organization’s contract to care for homeless cats.

In April, the town served the cat shelter, run by the League of Animal Protection of Huntington, with a 90-day notice to evacuate its Deposit Road establishment after learning the organization had lost its not-for-profit status in 2015 but never notified the town. Huntington Attorney Cindy Mangano said the town became aware of this breach of contractual agreement when drawing up a new document, as the previous agreement expired in December 2016.

“You were angry with us, but waiting doesn’t hurt us…it hurts our cats and any future cats we take in.”

— Linda Waslin

At the June 13 town board meeting, members voted to give LAP an extension until Nov. 30 to regain its not-for-profit status.

“I’d like to point out to you that this was not intentional as was insinuated by a few. It was a total mistake. It was an oversight,” said LAP volunteer Donna Fitzhugh. “The bottom line is it was not intentional,and the IRS actions proved it. We never lied to you and to be treated in the manner our organization was, was pretty coldhearted.”

Debbie Larkin, president of LAP, said she was thankful for the actions of the organization’s attorney and accountant in getting the not-for-profit status reinstated within five weeks and retroactively applied to the date it was lost.

“With the assistance of any incoming donations, our volunteers continue to take care of the dumps, the owner turn-ins, the bottle babies, free [trap-and-neuter] certificates and the adopt-out animals in our care,” she said.

Larkin and several other LAP members called on the town board to immediately approve an executive order on the contractual agreement previously drawn up this spring, which would extend the organization’s operation of the cat shelter past Nov. 30.

“You were angry with us, but waiting doesn’t hurt us,” said Linda Waslin, a long-time volunteer of the shelter. “It hurts our cats and any future cats we take in.”

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said the Town of Huntington cannot renew the nonprofit’s contract as it previously issued a Request For Proposals in the spring, which allowed other organizations to submit proposals to run the shelter. The town board is legally bound to continue the process that’s already in motion or it fears it could run the risk of another interested party taking them into court over the matter, according town spokesperson A.J. Carter.

“With the assistance of any incoming donations, our volunteers continue to take care of the dumps, the owner turn-ins, the bottle babies, free [trap-and-neuter] certificates and the adopt-out animals in our care.”

— Debbie Larkin

The Huntington town attorney’s office is currently reviewing the previous RFP, according to Petrone, and a new one should be issued in October. Petrone encouraged LAP to submit its proposal.

“If you put forth a proposal, and others put forth proposals, whatever’s the best proposal for the residents of Huntington will be selected. If you have all this experience, you will do that,” Petrone said.

Little Animal Shelter was among those who had previously submitted a proposal to take over the town’s cat shelter earlier this spring, according to Dawn Lam.

All proposals received on an RFP will be evaluated by a committee and the town attorney’s office. Unlike bids, which must be awarded to the lowest bidder, Carter said, the committee which reviews the bids can consider subjective criteria such as an organization’s experience. LAP will need to make the case for why it should continue to operate Grateful Paw.

Huntington Town officials said the new contract that is being offered to run the cat shelter wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2018. Should LAP feel that it is unable or unwilling to run the shelter past the Nov. 30 extension, the town has already stated it is willing to step in and temporarily provide services to ensure the safety and best interests of the cats, Carter said.

Gene Cook. File photo by Rohma Abbas

By Victoria Espinoza

Term limits could be the law of the future, as one Huntington town councilman is looking to the public for encouragement on drafting legislation for term limits for local offices.

Back in late June, Councilman Gene Cook (R) asked Huntington residents and business owners to let him know their thoughts on term limits for all elected officials in the town. The survey asked if people were in favor of term limits, supported them for all elected officials and if they supported two terms of four years each or three terms of four years each for officials.

By mid-July the results were in and Cook feels positive about moving forward to schedule a public hearing to hear more from the residents on the matter.

“For years I have wanted term limits,” Cook said in a phone interview. “So many people have come up to me on the street and said we should have term limits for everyone. I truly believe in it, and I think it makes for a healthier environment.”

According to Cook’s office, 98.07 percent of the people who responded are in favor of term limits, 86.54 percent supported that term limits include all elected officials, 63.46 percent supported two terms of four years compared to 17.31 percent for three terms of four years each.

Cook said he went to Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) after he got the results and said he plans to present a resolution for a public hearing for proposed legislation on term limits scheduled for the September town board meeting.

The proposed legislation would support term limits of two terms of four years each for all elected officials including town supervisor, town council, town clerk, receiver of taxes and superintendent of highways. This legislation also includes if the town board ever wishes to change term limits that it go before a public referendum.   

“I feel very strongly about this, that it’s the right thing to do,” Cook said. “In a business world it’s always good to have competition, it should be the same in politics. We can make government better by doing this.”

Petrone, who has served the town for more than 20 years, said he’s going into these discussions with an open mind.

“I objected in the past because drafts didn’t include all elected officials,” he said in a phone interview. “But I believe this may be different. In the past I’ve said if we had term limits it should be all the way up the line to Congress.”

The supervisor said he’ll see if a public hearing is a better vehicle to get information.

Cook said he hopes he can get bipartisan support for this bill and show that real leadership starts at the town level.

He will be sponsoring a resolution to schedule a public hearing in September on term limits at the Aug. 15 town board meeting.

“It is extremely vital for the future of  Huntington that the residents and business owners take the time out of their busy day to attend either the August … meeting at 2 p.m., the September … meeting at 7 p.m. or email Jo-Ann Raia, Huntington town clerk to ensure their voices are heard on term limits,” Cook said in a statement. “In the six years that I have served Huntington I have had many conversations with Huntington constituents regarding their thoughts on the need for term limits. This is why I have taken a stance to sponsor legislation this important topic.”

Image from Airbnb

By Victoria Espinoza

Weary travelers to the Huntington area might have a harder time finding a place to lay their head.

Earlier in 2017 Huntington’s town board announced a plan to restrict and possibly ban Airbnb users in the community, and at the June town board meeting the new rules were unveiled.

At the January meeting residents gave overwhelming support for the use of Airbnb, an online marketplace that facilitates short-term leases and rentals for travelers, and said it not only benefits users, but also brings money back into the town. Overall users said they were happy to see a ban was no longer being considered, though they were still critical of certain restrictions.

“Unlike other types of lodgings such as national hotel chains, 97 percent of revenue generated through Airbnb goes directly to our hosts who plow it back into the Empire State economy,” Jeffrey Sellers, a community organizer at Airbnb said during the meeting. “The vast majority of these New York hosts, 56 percent of whom are women, are individuals and families who share their homes occasionally to pay for their mortgage, medicine, student loans, or save for retirement. The typical host in New York earns about $5,400 in supplemental income by sharing their home for fewer than three nights a month.”

The resolution with new rules for Airbnb hosts was drafted by Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) and includes limits on advertising, parking and total number of days for guests.

The proposed legislation provides that it’s unlawful for a short-term rental to be in use if the property is not owner-occupied; advertisements must only be filed after the owner has obtained the proper short-term rental permits; it’s unlawful to post signage on the property for advertising purposes; and no property owner can lease their short-term rental for more than 120 days out of the year.

“With the backdrop of public safety, quality of life, and property rights this legislation strikes a balance between someone who plays ‘host’ versus the rights of neighbors to these uses who have an expectation that they live in a residential area.”
—Marc Cuthbertson

Philip Giovanelli, a Cold Spring Harbor resident and Airbnb host said he finds the 120-day limit to be particularly restrictive.

“From a business point of view, it’s possible that if you’re successful that you limit your ability to have guests during the holidays,” Giovanelli said at the meeting. “I wouldn’t want to have to turn down any scientists, particularly a cancer researcher or a DNA researcher because I only have three days left on my calendar.”

Giovanelli suggested a document or form hosts could file if they wanted to extend their limit.

Tara Collier, a Huntington resident and Airbnb host said she also finds the limit to be a problem.

“Huntington is a beautiful place, so let’s share it,” she said at the meeting. “I find that a rental for only one third of the year is quite restrictive and I hope that you will remove it possibly. Maybe there could be a range of different fees you could pay? I would be willing to work with that, I think that would be fair.”

Cuthbertson responded to hosts’ concerns at the meeting.

“You have what is essentially a commercial use which is now going to be allowed in a residential area, and we’re trying to respect the rights of the neighbors who we’re going to say [to them] for 120 days of the year you can operate a commercial entity but we don’t want it to be a lot more than that,” he said. “Is it an arbitrary number? Yes, it is somewhat of an arbitrary number but it’s a number that we think is fair.”

The councilman said in an email finding a balance between hosts and their neighbors is the main objective.

“We have listened to the valuable feedback from the recent public hearing and considered all suggestions and concerns,” Cuthbertson said. “ With the backdrop of public safety, quality of life, and property rights this legislation strikes a balance between someone who plays ‘host’ versus the rights of neighbors to these uses who have an expectation that they live in a residential area.”

The proposed plan for the assisted living facility in Huntington Station. Photo from Sunrise Development Inc.

By Victoria Espinoza

The sun seems set to rise on a new assisted living facility in Huntington Station.

Last week the Huntington town board unanimously approved a zone change for a 5.7 acre property on Jericho Turnpike and West Hills Road owned by Sunrise Development, Inc.

The land, located at 300 West Hills Road, is currently in a residential zone, and will be changed to a residential health services district to allow for the developer to create a two-story, 90-unit structure with 136 beds. After meetings with the town planning board, the developer has agreed to changes including staff shift changes timed to avoid peak traffic with the nearby Walt Whitman High School, “significant” landscape buffers between the facility and residences, and more.

At the May town board meeting, at least 10 residents that will neighbor the facility came to speak in support of the plan, though other residents came to oppose it.

According to the applicant, they held three community meetings as well as individual meetings with residents to hear their concerns and ideas to help make the facility the best it could be for the entire neighborhood.

Priscilla Jahir, a 34-year South Huntington resident was one of those speaking in opposition.

“I have no personal vendetta against seniors as I am one,” she said at the meeting. “I oppose the increase in traffic on West Hills Road, both during the 14-month-plus construction time and afterword as any increase in traffic will be a hardship to anyone traveling along that route. I feel that this facility is better suited for a larger access road.”

Diane Tanko presented a petition asking for a reduction in the size of the plan before granting them a zoning change.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said the main traffic contributors are expected to be the employees, not the residents who will live at the facility.

“If you reduce units you’re not really reducing traffic generation,” Cuthbertson said. “The people living there are generally not driving.”

Tanko responded that visitors also increase traffic, but Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said “sadly,” there were not many visitors at the other locations during the several times of the day she went to track the traffic and fullness of the parking lots.

Kevin McKenna, a South Huntington resident said he was in favor of the plan.

“I have two kids that attend Walt Whitman High School and I pass this location at least twice a day,” he said at the meeting. “I attended an informational meeting for the project set up by Sunrise and I walked away very impressed with the plan and the measures they’re taking with bringing the project to the neighborhood.”

He said he appreciated specifically how Sunrise intends to exceed setback measures for houses and fund landscape dividers at houses near the property.

Thomas Newman, a third-generation Peach Tree Lane resident said he’s seen the area change throughout the years and supports this change.

“After 25 years of being in the business of architecture and seeing their [Sunrise] designs, I think it would be an asset to our community,” he said. “I’d be happy to have my kids live fourth-generation on that street with this.”

Arthur Gibson, president of Plumbers Local Union 200, spoke in support of the plan.

“They’ve built I believe 15 similar units on Long Island, and they’ve consistently used a contractor…meaning local jobs for local people,” Gibson said at the meeting. “There’s so many times, I could tell you horror story after horror story where our contractors don’t get paid. Sunrise Senior Living, they pay their bills, and that’s very important for a construction man or woman on Long Island.”

The company said they are “negotiating in good faith” with the union currently for the job.

Image from Airbnb

Huntington residents came to clear the air at a town board meeting Jan. 11, after Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) scheduled a public hearing for a resolution to ban the use of short-term rentals like Airbnb in the town.

In the resolution, the town sought to regulate temporary rental properties in order to protect the safety, health and welfare of Huntington residents. The town board “finds the increase in residential homes being rented for short periods of time detrimentally affects the quality of life in the neighborhoods in which they occur,” according to the resolution.

Residents spoke in opposition to the resolution during the hearing.

“I started hosting for economic reasons but have found it to be a very positive experience,” Michael Krasowitz, a Huntington Station resident said. “I feel like I’m an ambassador for the Town of Huntington. When they come I take them in my car, I drive them around, I show them the beaches, the restaurants, and they appreciate that — to learn about the town. For me it’s a way of engaging new people. So far it’s been a positive experience and the people have really enjoyed it.”

Alison Rexler, a former Walt Whitman resident, said Airbnb is more than just an enjoyable way to spend time for her — it’s a necessity to survive.

“I was planning on purchasing my own home and unfortunately my mortgage fell through and I found myself basically homeless,” she said at the meeting. “I have been unable to find a lease in an apartment that would rent for less than a year. Airbnb is my only solution. I have a daughter I would like to be able to visit. I have cats I would like to be able to visit. I have family and friends here. Airbnb has allowed me to stay with my family and friends and stay within the community. Without it I don’t know where I’d be but truly homeless at the moment. It is serving a need that you cannot anticipate.”

Janet Bernardo, a Fort Salonga resident, said her guests help contribute to an increase in revenue for small businesses.

“I am so excited I get to share my space, my home, my view, the marshland, the preserve, all the local stores that my guests go to,” she said. “I can’t imagine any of the local shop owners have any concerns about all these additional people coming into the town. I can’t figure out why the town would want to put a ban on it.”

Before the public hearing, Cuthbertson said he created this proposal in reaction to concerns from residents.

“It came about because of a number of constituent complaints we had received,” he said. “I asked the town attorneys office to draft legislation and frankly the easiest way to draft that legislation was in the most restrictive manner which is a ban.”

He said the town can always reduce the amount of restrictions, but it’s easier for the town to start at a full ban and work its way backward.

“I have a very open mind about something less than a ban,” he said. “We’re here to weigh the quality of life concerns of transient rentals and off street parking and really balance them against I’m sure some of the very good arguments.”

According to the company’s website, Airbnb, which was founded in 2008, is a community marketplace for people to list, discover and book housing accommodations around the world for varying lengths of time.

After hearing reactions from the public, Cuthbertson said he is willing to consider drafting legislation that is not an outright ban.

“Based on the valuable public input we received, I am considering measures that would regulate Airbnb operations instead of banning them all together,” he said in an email. “The town needs to pass legislation that strikes a balance between someone who plays ‘host’ to sharing their residence versus someone who operates as the equivalent of a hotelier. Public safety and quality of life issues will also play an integral part of this legislation.”

No decision has been reached regarding going forward with a ban.

Supervisor Frank Petrone. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Huntington Town board members approved a cap-piercing $191 million budget that was strongly supported by residents when it was first proposed in September.

The 2017 budget maintains town services at current levels and calls for a 2.85 percent tax levy increase, which will net the town about $2.2 million more in revenue than the 0.68 percent state-mandated tax levy cap set this year.

According to the town, the tax levy is projected to increase by $3.2 million to $117.7 million, which would cost residents approximately $18 to $30 more per household this year.

The cap limits tax levy increases to the rate of inflation or 2 percent. However, it can be overridden by a  60 percent super majority vote by the town board.

If we cut [funding] down, Huntington suffers. It’s not just going to a museum and seeing one less painting. It’s millions of dollars out of the pockets of local residents.” —Ken Katz

Town board members voted unanimously to approve the budget Sept. 27, after listening to many community members urge the town to pierce the cap in order to continue funding for social, youth and art programs.

Jolena Smith, a Huntington High School student and member of the Tri Community Youth Agency — a not-for-profit organization that offers educational, recreational, social, cultural, athletics, counseling and advocacy programs for the town’s youth — became emotional when speaking about why it’s so important to her that the board pierces the cap this year and maintains Tri CYA funding.

“The Tri CYA provides all types of programs, services and activities to the youth that don’t have other choices or places to go,” she said at the meeting. “I’ve been coming to the Tri CYA for as long as I can remember, and it means a lot to me. The staff is an extended family. The Tri CYA helps kids stay off the streets. It helped me be the person I am today.”

Ken Katz, a Huntington resident and member of the board of directors at the Cinema Arts Centre, also talked about how crucial funding from the town is for the survival of the CAC, a nonprofit organization that helps provide programs for students and seniors, as well as supporting local businesses.

“It’s not just a couple of bucks less for culture and arts,” he said. “If we cut [funding] down, Huntington suffers, not the Cinema Arts Centre. It’s not just going to a museum and seeing one less painting. It’s millions of dollars out of the pockets of local residents.”

In order to stay within the state-mandated tax levy increase cap, not only would Huntington have to cut youth and arts programs, Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) also said they would have to lay off employees — a move he said residents would feel the effects of in the form of reduced service, maintenance and hours at town facilities and longer waits at Town Hall.

“While I concur with the fundamental concept behind the cap … I do believe there needs to be modification of the language in the current legislation, so that the unintended consequence of limiting growth and new initiatives is eliminated,” Petrone said in a statement.

The supervisor also talked about the challenge with requirements to fund federal and state-mandated expenses that the board has no control over.

“I wish to thank my fellow board members, who continue to work with me by taking the prudent, fiscally responsible steps that have enabled me to submit this budget,” he said. “[It’s] a budget that serves residents well by maintaining the current level of services and increasing the tax levy only by that amount required to fund federal and state-mandated expenses, which are wholly outside the control of the town board.”

Huntington Town Board candidates Gene Cook, Jennifer Thompson, Keith Barrett and Susan Berland talk issues at a debate in Elwood on Oct. 14. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Huntington Town Board candidates discussed development, term limits and more at a debate at the Elwood Public Library hosted by the Elwood Taxpayers Association on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Two seats are up for grabs on the five-member board next month, and four contenders are in the running for the slots. Councilman Gene Cook (I) and Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) are both seeking re-election. Newcomers Jennifer Thompson, a Republican, and Keith Barrett, a Democrat, are looking for a first term.

In his opening statement, Cook said that he is such a strong believer in term limits that if he gets elected in November, he would “term-limit” himself voluntarily, pledging it would be his last run for the seat.

“It’s tough for those people to run that have never run before,” Cook said. “It’s an unfair advantage.”

Cook asked if every other candidate also believed in term limits and both Thompson and Barrett said they did.

“I think that most people come into office with the best of intentions, but the longer you’re there, the more susceptible you are to corruption,” Thompson said. “I do think that there also is benefit to having fresh perspectives and new ideas.” She also said that campaign funding is an uphill battle and incumbents make it a “David and Goliath situation” where it is very difficult for newcomers to raise matching amounts of funds.

Berland, however, said she does not believe in term limits.

“I believe elections are the best term limits,” she said. “If people want you to continue doing the job you’re doing, they’ll vote for you. If they’d rather have someone else do the job, they’ll vote for someone else.”

The most popular question of the night regarded the The Seasons at Elwood, and what each candidate’s opinion was of the project. The Seasons is a planned 256-unit condominium housing community geared towards residents 55 and older.

Cook said his opinion is on the town’s records, because he was the only town council member to vote against the project, which required a change of zone.

“When 5,500 residents who signed a petition against it and said ‘We don’t want it,’ I was right there behind you,” Cook said.

Barrett asked if it really matters what he thinks of the Seasons at Elwood. “How many of you don’t want it?” Barrett asked and the audience responded overwhelmingly that they did not. “Well then you got my answer.” Barrett also said he would have liked to see more community involvement before the project gained approval.

“I’d like to see somebody from the community and the development being involved,” Barrett said. “There is compromise for everything. We have to work on this more as a community and not ramming it down peoples’ throats.”

Thompson countered that she does think it matters what she thinks of this issue. “I will stand with this community and vote against it,” Thompson said.

Berland voted in favor of the project.

“It was a project that I supported because it’s senior housing and there are a lot of seniors who want to continue to live here,” Berland said. “They ended up with a high density number significantly lower than when they started. I think that [the Greens at Half Hollows] has been an amazing economic boom and I’m hoping that the Seasons will end up being the same.”

Some audience members continued to grill her on why she’d vote the project when many residents were against it.

“There were petitions in favor and in opposition,” Berland said. “They were a large number of people in and outside the Elwood community who welcome senior housing. I vote what I think is best for the people of the town and I don’t think this will hurt the people of the town.”

When asked for three items each candidate would prioritize if elected, Thompson started with safety in Huntington Station.

“We deserve the opportunity to walk our streets and feel safe.” Her other two priorities are making sure water quality remains clean and keeping taxes low. Barrett said he’d prioritize cleaning up criminal activities in Huntington Station. He also said parking in Huntington village is a big problem.

“Parking is a big issue because you can’t go down there and buy a slice of pizza without spending a couple bucks on parking,” Barrett said. His third issue is spending. He said he would like to broaden the scope of certain town department to get Huntington taxpayers the best bang for their bucks.

Cook brought up the shock he felt when he learned the news of Maggie Rosales, an 18-year old who died after she was stabbed in Huntington Station last year. Cook said he went to Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) with a plan to put public safety cars on the road, and link them up with 2nd Precinct to help cut crime. He also said he would like to challenge the some of the numbers in the supervisor’s budget. “I never once voted for Frank Petrone’s budget.”

All the candidates were unanimous on the issue of the ongoing litigation between Huntington Town and the Long Island Power Authority. The utility is suing the town to recover some $270 million in property taxes it paid since 2010, arguing the aging Northport power plant is grossly over-assessed.

Berland said she has been totally in favor of the litigation since day one.

“I think LIPA has to keep with the agreement that they made from the beginning that they would not ask for reassessment,” Berland said. She also said that Cook was the only vote against the litigation and that he wanted to settle instead, and that is something she strongly disagrees with.

Cook said he voted against initiating litigation because he was told if the town loses, Huntington could be on the hook for a large sum of money. He has since changed his stance — he said he believes at this point it is past negotiations and that they have to fight.

Barrett is in favor of fighting LIPA, and Thompson, who voted on the school board to put the district into the court battle, said she still strongly is for the litigation.

The next debate between the candidates will be sponsored by the League of Women Voters. It will take place at Harborfields Public Library on Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at 31 Broadway in Greenlawn.

Huntington town board votes to allow bow hunting of animals

Some Eaton’s Neck residents have set their sights on terminating deer through bow hunting. Stock photo

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously on Wednesday, Sept. 16, to amend town code to allow bow hunting of deer in Eaton’s Neck under the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The board’s move was in response to Eaton’s Neck residents’ concerns of deer overpopulating their communities. Residents there have told town officials that they believe the animals have contributed to increased car accidents, tick-borne illnesses and a downgrade in their community’s quality of life.

“I think the Town Board did a great job in recognizing the fact that we have a problem,” Joe DeRosa, an Eaton’s Neck resident and president of Eaton Harbors Corp., said in a phone interview. “It’s a fantastic decision. It took the courage of the board to make this difficult decision.”

The decision comes after a heated summer-long debate, with some residents strongly in favor of this resolution, and others staunchly against it.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said that this resolution takes the town’s firearms legislation, and amends it to include deer hunting with bows on private property with the approval of the property owner after the hunter has obtained a DEC permit.

Deer hunting season is just around the corner, starting on Oct. 1 and ending Jan. 31.

The supervisor said that homeowners themselves would go in and decide how they want to handle hiring a hunter to shoot deer on their property.

“We’ve gotten community groups and civic groups involved,” Petrone said. The groups will help find someone qualified, a deer hunter or deer hunter group, to come in. He called it a safety measure, so “it’s not just ‘Joe the hunter’ coming in.”

Deer hunters need to be approved by residents before they hunt on the residents’ private property. Petrone said hunters would most likely have to sign something like a release before hunting.

Also, in a separate resolution, the board voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing to consider adopting a law to introduce a deer management program.

Petrone said he recognizes that some residents say that bow hunting is not favorable, and that they are more interested in a method to reduce deer numbers through using contraceptives. He said he’s been researching annual contraceptive drugs, which require tagging deer, tranquilizing them and following up every year. He has also learned of a drug called GonaCon, a contraceptive drug that would only have to be given once. The company that is offering this drug would actually pay for this drug, because they want it to be used, according to Petrone.

“A deer management program will provide for various alternatives,” Petrone said. “One of the things that’s really being looked at is the contraception concept.”

Other ideas being reviewed are herding programs, to help round up deer; and getting a count of how many deer there actually are in the area.

“What this is, is we’ve started the process because there is a need to begin,” Petrone said about the mission of the management program. “Let’s now get into sophisticating this as a real management program.”

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) supported all the bills on the deer issue.

“I recognize the seriousness of this issue for the residents of Eaton’s Neck,” she said in a phone interview.

In terms of the deer management program, Berland said, “It’s a natural second half of this.”

“I think we need to look into deer management — we need a long-term plan. Not everybody wants hunting on their property. We have to appeal to everyone,” she said.

File photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington members of the Working Families Party have spoken.

Keith Barrett is the town’s deputy director of general services. Photo from Barrett
Keith Barrett is the town’s deputy director of general services. Photo from Barrett

Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and Democrat Keith Barrett swept a Working Families Party primary election on Sept. 10, earning the line in a race for the Huntington Town Board in November.

Barrett came in first place, receiving about 47 percent, or 205 votes, and Berland garnered nearly 31 percent of the votes, or 133 votes.

The two trumped contenders Charles Marino, who got about 21 percent, or 91 votes, and husband-wife duo Richard Hall and Valerie Stingfellow, who combined got fewer than 10 votes, though the two declared they were no longer actively campaigning and urged their supporters to throw their votes behind Marino.

The primary election upholds the Working Families Party endorsements of Barrett and Berland. Emily Abbott, the party’s Long Island political director, said in a previous email that Berland and Barrett both “share our values and support our key legislative issues like raising the minimum wage and passing paid family leave.”

When reached on Friday, Berland said she was happy with the results.

Susan Berland is seeking reelection to the Huntington Town Board. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Susan Berland is seeking reelection to the Huntington Town Board. Photo by Rohma Abbas

“It feels very gratifying,” Berland said in a phone interview. “My record proves I’ve always supported the Working Families Party and I will continue to do so.”

The councilwoman said she has received the party’s support every time she ran for office since her second campaign.

Barrett didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on Friday, but the Huntington resident said in a previous interview, “I come from a working family. I’m a union guy, a blue-collar worker. I’ve always been in the working guys shoes.”

Marino, Hall and Stringfellow did not immediately return requests seeking comment.