Plan For 210-foot Duck Island Dock Faces Critics

By Andrew Wroblewski


Robert Holmes speaks at an Aug. 11 public hearing against a proposal calling for a 210-foot dock to be built off of an Asharoken property on Duck Island.

Robert Holmes speaks at an Aug. 11 public hearing against a proposal calling for a 210-foot dock to be built off of an Asharoken property on Duck Island.

A proposal to build an oversized dock off of a 22-acre Duck Island property in Asharoken faced some headwind at a public hearing last week.

John Rittenhouse, chief executive of London-based international wholesale energy company EDF Trading, wants to build a private, recreational dock that would extend 210 feet off of his property. The dock would be 110 feet longer than the Town of Huntington’s 100-foot limit.

To conclude what has been a nearly two-year process, the Huntington Town Board must approve a variance and license agreement while sitting as the town’s board of trustees, which manages the leasing, sale and use of town properties.

“This is a normal use of waterfront property,” John Ross, an Asharoken resident who is in favor of Rittenhouse’s application, said at the hearing. Ross called the Rittenhouse family “wonderful neighbors” and said “everything they’ve done with their properties is beautifully maintained and I’m sure that this application will be well-respected to the community.”

The proposal would consist of a 4-foot-wide by 180-foot-long grated dock. A seasonal ramp and floating pier would add 30 feet in length. John Breslin, Rittenhouse’s attorney, said the length is necessary to reach 3 feet of low-tide water depth, as mandated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The application has already gotten the necessary approvals from the state DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Breslin said the dock would host Rittenhouse’s 22-foot fishing boat and that it would be “a great addition to the property.”

Others, however, oppose the dock’s construction for a variety of reasons.

Michael Gozelski, of East Northport, said that a proposal doubling the town’s limit is “a little ridiculous” and suggested Rittenhouse seek alternatives, such as using the Northport Marina or one of the town’s boat ramps.

Another opponent, Robert Holmes, of Asharoken, said, “The scale of this is unprecedented for any property within the village.”

Holmes questioned whether officials from the Town of Huntington or Village of Asharoken should take jurisdiction on the property. A March 31 letter written by Asharoken Village Clerk Nancy Rittenhouse – John’s sister-in-law – to the town states that the property is regulated by the Town of Huntington.

A May 5 report issued by the Town of Huntington Conservation Board as an analysis of the proposal was also cited by Holmes. That report concludes that while the structure “is unlikely to have grave impacts,” a dock of the proposed length “is not appropriate in this setting.” The Conservation Board urged that a “poor precedent” could be set by giving approval.

But Breslin said Tuesday that the Conservation Board’s report “shifts gears” to come to its opinion, and that it’s the only negative recommendation the town has so far received. Breslin noted the town’s Maritime Services Department did not object to the proposal in a Feb. 23 report.

Rittenhouse was out of the country and could not be reached as of press time Tuesday.

A ruling on the dock can be made as early as the Sept. 16 Huntington Town Board meeting.

If approved, Rittenhouse would need building permits before construction.