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Residents divided over proposed dock on Duck Island

John Rittenhouse, an Asharoken native and London energy

John Rittenhouse, an Asharoken native and London energy executive, wants to put in his dock here on his 22-acre Duck Island property. (Aug. 6, 2015) Photo Credit: Newsday / Valerie Bauman

Asharoken residents are divided over business executive John Rittenhouse's proposed 210-foot dock on his 22-acre Duck Island property -- more than twice the Town of Huntington's 100-foot standard.

"The scale of this dock is unprecedented for any property within the village," said Asharoken resident Rob Holmes, who was among those at a public hearing Tuesday at Town Hall who objected to the project. "The aesthetic impact of such a structure would be significant."

Rittenhouse said the length of the dock is necessary so his 22-foot boat has at least 3 feet of water to float in at low tide.

Huntington Town Board members, acting in their capacity as trustees, heard from Rittenhouse's attorney and the public about the project at Tuesday's meeting.

The trustees -- who manage the leasing, sale and use of town properties, most typically waterfront and underwater lands -- are the last hurdle for Rittenhouse. He has obtained project approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York Department of State.

"We've gone through every process," Rittenhouse said. "The public has the right to make an opinion. The board will make a decision based on facts."

The 4-foot-wide grated dock would have a seasonal ramp connected to a floating pier.

Rittenhouse's attorney, John Breslin, said his client has had engineers come up with a design that would not harm beaches or marine life. The property has 5,000 feet of beach where he wants to build a lone dock, compared with a 4,200-foot long stretch of beach in Northport that has 15 docks, Breslin said.

John Ross, who designed Asharoken's new Village Hall, was among the residents who spoke in support of the project.

"This is a normal use of waterfront property," he said.

Holmes, an opponent, cited a May 2015 report by the town's Conservation Board that concluded the structure would not have "grave impacts," but it also said: "A dock of this length is not appropriate in this setting."

Holmes asked the board for a 60-day continuance and another public hearing to let more Asharoken residents comment.

But village Mayor Greg Letica said in an interview Wednesday the matter "is a jurisdictional issue of the Town of Huntington, not the Village of Asharoken."

Asharoken alerts neighbors when someone is seeking a zoning variance for a project within 300 feet of their home -- but Rittenhouse's property is not close enough to have triggered such a notification.

Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said town officials had used all standard forms of public hearing notification, including publication in two local newspapers. He said he would not agree to a 60-day continuance for the project.

Rittenhouse, a London-based chief executive for an international energy firm, bought the property for $7 million in 2013.

Huntington officials could vote on the project at the Sept. 16 town meeting.


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