By Andrew Wroblewski
The Huntington Town Board last week approved a long-discussed 210-foot dock planned for a 22-acre Duck Island property in Asharoken.
John Rittenhouse, chief executive of London-based international wholesale energy company EDF Trading, sought a variance and license agreement from the town board to build the private, recreational dock for his 22-foot fishing boat. The dock is 110 feet longer than town’s 100-foot limit.
During the Nov. 5 town board meeting, the board approved the proposal 4-0 while sitting as the town’s board of trustees, which manages the leasing, sale and use of town properties. Rittenhouse now requires building permits before construction can begin.
Councilwoman Susan Berland abstained from the vote, stating that she was not able to visit the property prior to the meeting.
Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone said after the meeting that other members of the board did visit and “found that there are docks in the area.”
Councilman Eugene Cook, one of the four voters in favor, later added that he believes approval was “the right thing to do” after visiting the property earlier that day.
The board tabled voting on the variance and license agreement at its meeting in September.
Robert Holmes, of Asharoken, said during the public portion of the Nov. 5 meeting that “there are at least six immediately neighboring properties, which could request similar variances difficult to deny if this one is approved. A precedent is absolutely being set.”
Holmes, who has publically spoken against the proposal multiple times, cited a May 5 report issued by the Town of Huntington Conservation Board that was against the dock. The report concludes by saying that, while the structure “is unlikely to have grave impacts,” a dock of the proposed length “is not appropriate in this setting.”
“I’m here to voice the concerns of many regarding the dock variance,” Holmes said. He was the lone speaker to address the topic during the meeting. Despite the “acrimony” the pier “has generated, I reiterate, it has nothing to do with Mr. Rittenhouse or his family, nor favoritism, subdivisions or other plots. It is about saving this coastline.”
Petrone said that he did not believe a precedent would be set in approving Rittenhouse’s dock.
The approved structure calls for a 4-foot-wide by 180-foot-long grated dock, along with a seasonal ramp and floating pier, which adds 30 feet.
John Breslin, Rittenhouse’s attorney, who could not be reached before deadline Tuesday, said in August that the length is necessary to reach 3 feet of low-tide water depth, as mandated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The application was previously approved by the state DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.