The State-designated Special Groundwater Protection Area (SGPA), which covers much of the Town of Oyster Bay's north shore, has been getting a lot of attention, most recently with Councilwoman Bonnie Eisler's call for a moratorium on all building in the SGPA. I disagree that a moratorium is needed.
The imposition of a moratorium over such a widespread area would be potentially harmful. It would pose undue hardships on residents and business owners alike, who seek to improve their properties. Residential and commercial growth are important to a stable economy and stopping that growth could stagnate even a healthy economy.
Perhaps the more important consideration is whether or not a moratorium is the best way to deal with development within the SGPA. The SGPA is already protected under the very comprehensive review process the town has for ALL proposals for development, a process that balances environmental concerns with economic realities. The town's Division of Planning and Development reviews and studies the effects of land use to ensure the orderly development of the town. The town's Environmental Quality Review Commission reviews, analyzes and investigates all environmental impacts of applications submitted to or contemplated by the town board or other town agencies in accordance with environmental conservation laws. A separate site plan review ordinance, instituted in 1996, further strengthens the town's control and, in addition, ensures that these sites being developed are compatible with surrounding areas.
In other words, a system of checks and balances to ensure orderly and responsible planning and development is already in place.
Having said this, it does not mean there is not room for change. The town board amends the code as necessary to reflect the changing needs of our society while protecting the suburban way of life we all cherish.
While it certainly may have the ring of "political correctness," people who believe a moratorium is needed to halt development in the SGPA are not looking at the big picture. They say it will give the town time to implement a master plan and/or groundwater protection plan for development. What they fail to realize is that such a plan could take two-to-three years to develop and implement.
The town board has an excellent record of maintaining the delicate balance needed for residential neighborhoods and businesses to co-exist in harmonious partnership. Continued responsible and orderly planning and development in our communities will help safeguard our town well into the 21st century and beyond.
Anthony D. Macagnone