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Town delays vote on Asharoken dock proposal

John Rittenhouse, an Asharoken native and London energy

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

Huntington Town council members have delayed voting on an Asharoken resident's application for a 210-foot dock -- 100 feet longer than the town limit -- after receiving more than a dozen complaints.

It was "a tremendous amount of concern from residents," Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said of the decision to pull the resolutions at the Sept. 16 meeting.

John Rittenhouse, a London-based chief executive for an international energy firm and one of Asharoken's largest landowners, said the dock would be for his family, and the length is necessary for his 22-foot boat to float in low-tide depths.

Rittenhouse, who bought the 22-acre plot on Duck Island for $7 million in 2013, said he's gone through every appropriate step in seeking a variance. "I don't have any argument with anybody," he said. "I'm just trying to have a dock on my property."

Rittenhouse has about 5,000 feet of coastline and no nearby neighbors, but many residents say the dock would be an eyesore, potentially interfere with navigation and set a precedent for large docks.

"As we and other residents look out over our properties and beyond into the bay, we do not want to be confronted by an intrusive, oversized dock resembling a commercial airstrip," resident Nadine Dumser wrote in a Sept. 13 email.

Town Councilwoman Susan Berland said Thursday the size had concerned her early on. "I was told . . . it would not have any impact on any other properties," she said. "There are a lot of constituents who have a difference with that analysis."

Petrone said officials are researching concerns, and he will visit the site before voting.

Rittenhouse has obtained approvals in the past two years from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York Department of State and the Huntington harbormaster, who said the dock wouldn't disrupt navigation.

But Petrone said a report by the town's conservation board contributed to the delay. It said the dock was unlikely to have "grave impacts," but the "length is not appropriate in this setting, we urge the Town Board not to set a poor precedent," board members wrote.

Town code requires a vote be held within 90 days of an Aug. 11 public hearing. Rittenhouse needs a vote by the Nov. 5 town meeting, unless officials pass an extension to keep it alive.

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