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Brookhaven board forms committee to implement Carmans River plan

People canoe on the Carmans River in Brookhaven.

People canoe on the Carmans River in Brookhaven. (Oct. 15, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

The Brookhaven Town board has formally formed a Carmans River Conservation and Management Plan performance committee to oversee the protection strategy for the 10-mile estuary.

While the measure passed 6-0 on Tuesday, Democratic Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld abstained from voting, arguing for more civic leaders on the committee.

"I think we might want to add some voices," Fiore-Rosenfeld told the board shortly before the vote.

But town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, Republican, argued the committee, consisting of nearly 20 people and agencies, had enough representation from local leaders. The committee is to include representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Central Pine Barrens Commission, federal agencies and civic groups interested in protecting the river.

"We want to keep the committee a reasonable size," Romaine responded. "The problem is with any committee, it can lose its focus."

Romaine added that civic groups or citizens are welcome to committee meetings, but Rosenfeld shot back that "to exclude potential voices [from the committee] it may not have as strong an impact."

The committee will be charged with helping the town implement the landmark environmental plan, which coalesced after years of often volatile debate. It would meet at least quarterly and issue progress reports to the board.

The Carmans plan, adopted last month, called for the formation of a performance committee to assess the effectiveness of the plan.

The town board developed the plan to conserve the Carmans River watershed. It would do so by buying land along the waterway and imposing tougher zoning along the estuary. The board enacted the sweeping, 200-page blueprint by a 6-0 vote.

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