Pictured Above: The future site of “The Enclaves” in Southold
We’re shocked, but not surprised to see the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency dismiss the concerns raised by numerous Southold residents over the tax breaks awarded in January to the resort hotel known as The Enclaves, which will likely soon begin construction.
The brusque manner in which the IDA disregarded the mountain of public opposition to the project is sadly representative of the cozy relationship developers maintain with regulatory bodies in the area East Enders call Up The Island.
This decision makes it impossible for us to not acknowledge that the Up West mentality is now Out Here, and the East End is not prepared to meet this moment.
If economic development is a stated goal of our comprehensive planning, how many future proposed zoning changes will be challenged by developers on the basis that new zoning is contrary to the our Comprehensive Plans’ goals of economic development?
We heard from the developers of The Enclaves themselves before the IDA last week that they believe their project helps meet the goals of the Economic Development chapter of Southold’s Comprehensive Plan, a document that should have served as a tool to develop zoning to protect Southold from overdevelopment. Zoning recommendations are coming soon, we’re told, but is it too late?
We’re bound to find out the answers to these existential questions in the months ahead, as Southold, Riverhead and Shelter Island flesh out zoning recommendations in their comprehensive plans, and in places like East Hampton, where massive new mansions and modest longtime summer homes are both at threat from rising seas. It is certainly going to be a bumpy ride.
The Time for Flood-Proofing is Now
Speaking of rising seas, as we do here often, the long-term impact of the flooding we saw on the East End in January is not to be understated. We are on the front lines of climate change, and we’re finally starting to act, as a region, like we know this to be the truth. It’s about time.
From raising roads to strengthening emergency response networks to working with the Army Corps of Engineers and coastal morphologists and surveyors to protect the South Shore, there’s a lot that local government is now fully on board with doing now to address the impacts on our coastline.
But there’s a lot we all have to do as individuals too, and paying for adequate insurance (which is becoming more difficult every year) is just the beginning. If you live in an area that is subject to flooding — whether from rain or the coastline, now is the time to start moving your utilities out of your basements and making a plan for better drainage around your home.
The far more difficult conversations are going to be the personal ones we have with our families, in our homes, about whether the costs of living so close to the coast are sustainable. Deciding where to live is a personal decision, but East Hampton Town’s Community Preservation Fund has mechanisms in place for buying properties to serve as a natural buffer from rising seas, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul just announced the state is looking in to a voluntary buy-out program for property owners.
If we make these big decisions now, we’ll have far more peace of mind the next time the water begins to rise. And rise it will. We are seeing it, in real time.
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