The Greenport Village Board of Trustees, three of whose members were sworn in earlier this month, voted unanimously Thursday evening to approve a six-month moratorium on development in three downtown zoning districts while the village updates its zoning code.

In doing so, the board overrided a recommendation for a two-month moratorium issued by the Suffolk County Planning Commission earlier this spring, but did take into account the Planning Commission’s recommendation that the moratorium no longer be tied to the completion of the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP).

Local municipalities can override recommendations of the Suffolk County Planning Commission by a supermajority vote.

A temporary administrative moratorium has been in effect since December of 2022, during which the village is not accepting applications for work in the village’s General Commercial, Retail Commercial and Waterfront Commercial zoning districts.

New Mayor Kevin Stuessi, who was one of the early proponents of the moratorium as a private citizen, said the board has taken the Planning Commission’s recommendation to separate the moratorium from the LWRP to heart.

“Our goal is to get the code updates done by the end of the summer, before Labor Day, and continue working on the LWRP. That way the ability to lift the moratorium will not be tied towards any completion of the LWRP. With the Waterfront Advisory Committee, we will deeply engage with the community over next several months.”

Mr. Stuessi also announced the new board is reorganizing the Waterfront Advisory Committee instated by the Village Board earlier this year to review development changes, with five subcommittees instead of three.

“I thought the Suffolk County Planning Commission made a pretty strong argument in favor of the moratorium,” said Trustee Julia Robins before casting her ‘yes’ vote. “The main difference we’re disagreeing with them on is the timeline. I think six months is what we should be voting for.”

New Trustee Patrick Brennan, formerly the chair of the village’s Planning Board, agreed, adding that code changes would need to go before the public for hearings and be referred to the village’s Planning Board and back to the Suffolk County Planning Commission before they could be adopted, which would be unlikely to happen in the two-month time frame.

“One of the best things about the moratorium was it galvanized the community and got people focused on our planning and code needs,” he said. “We need to get on to public engagement and the referral processes, which are each going to take some time. We need to work very quickly and efficiently.”

He added that the village will also need to plan for housing and environmental sustainability, but it “doesn’t need a moratorium to do that.”

A chorus of people spoke in favor of the six-month moratorium at a public hearing before the vote, in contrast to some recent public discussions, which had been more contentious.

Planning Board member Tricia Hammes, long a proponent of the moratorium, said she believed Mr. Stuessi’s overwhelming victory in the March 21 village elections showed how the community at large felt about the issue.

Running on a platform seeking a pause in development while Greenport planned for its future, Mr. Stuessi won 61 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race against former incumbent mayor George Hubbard and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company founder Richard Vandenburgh. Mr. Stuessi won 299 votes while Mr. Hubbard garnered 101 and Mr. Vandenburgh gathered 91.

“It seems to me the election was a resounding vote of support on the part of the community,” said Ms. Hammes.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story included just the in-person vote tallies for the March 21 election. It has since been updated to include absentee ballots.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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