Developers behind a proposed subdivision on Duck Island in Asharoken want to reroute a road and sell a plot of land to fund restoration and allow replacement of 80-year-old water pipes.
"This is probably one of the most beautiful parts of Long Island, and these people are incredibly lucky to live surrounded by this water," said Patrick Glennon, vice president of the corporation behind the project. "But they have that piece of junk as a road and you have a water service that is not reliable. And we have the ability to do something."
Asharoken Planning Board officials last month had their first look at Duck Island Corp.'s preliminary application to develop a 2-acre plot where Asharoken Avenue meets Duck Island Lane, a narrow, fractured road and the only access to the mainland. The plan would move the access road to Duck Island Lane, 178 feet west up Asharoken Avenue, allowing developers to create a 2-acre lot where a buyer could then build a home.
The property is owned by the corporation, made up of eight shareholders, including three full-time island residents, Glennon said.
The sale of the lot would help repave Duck Island Lane, a road plagued with potholes, erosion, frequent floods and sometimes limited access for the residents on Duck Island, said Glennon, also president of Northport-based Glennon Construction.
"There's no decision to be made yet," said Patrick Cleary, chairman of the village planning board, after the informal meeting. The planning board will make the final decision on the project.
Officials said that before filing an official application, expected in mid-June, the developers must address several issues: An explanation of whether residents along Asharoken Avenue would be affected by the shift in the road; clarification on whether any neighbors must consent to the change; a more detailed survey showing adjoining property owners and their houses; and additional consideration of environmental factors such as whether the site is in a coastal erosion hazard area.
Glennon said all issues would be addressed in the application.
Suffolk County Water Authority officials described the pipes as "a huge maintenance nightmare."
"I would say it is among the worst" in the county, said Paul Kuzman, acting director of construction an maintenance for the agency.
Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica declined to comment on the project.
Glennon said that some residents became concerned when John Rittenhouse became the majority owner of Duck Island Corp. Rittenhouse, a multimillionaire who grew up in Asharoken but now lives in London and works in the European energy market, bought a 22-acre property for $7 million in 2013 on the southeastern section of Duck Island, a separate purchase from Duck Island Corp., of which Rittenhouse holds 52 percent.
Rittenhouse's sister is a village trustee, and his sister-in-law is village clerk. Glennon's father-in-law is on the village planning board, but recused himself from voting on this project.
"In Asharoken, or any town, it's hard not to be related to somebody that you could say, 'there's something inappropriate going on,' " Glennon said. "I don't think there's any concern for anything inappropriate. We're not asking for any special treatment."