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Shelter Island delays vote on 'dark skies' code

Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty said a recent

Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty said a recent meeting on a "dark skies" lighting code proposal for the town, which drew about 80 attendees, was "polite." (June 27, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/Gordon M. Grant

Shelter Island, the last town on the East End without a "dark skies" lighting code, will maintain that distinction after delaying a vote on the measure to give residents a week to comment on the issue.

The code would impose sharp restrictions on outdoor lighting. The town board met Friday to discuss the measure, drawing a crowd of more than 80 people. With few streetlights in the mostly rural town -- which has a year-round population of about 2,500 and more than 8,000 in the summer -- some have questioned the need for such a code.

"If I have to worry about my neighbors complaining to the police because I have a 60-watt bulb, we're in trouble," said Anthony Palminteri. He noted that he moved to Shelter Island 25 years ago "to get away from pervasive government, and I'd like to keep it that way. . ."

The town police have gotten just four complaints about outdoor lighting in the past 10 years. Still, Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, which lobbies for open space, told the board the time to adopt such a code is before it is needed.

"It's very difficult to go back and retrofit [light fixtures]," he said.

More than two dozen people stood in the hall outside the small Shelter Island town board meeting room -- all 50 seats were filled and other people stood in the back of the room. Officials had expected a long, controversial hearing on the code change proposal, but after an hour of back and forth debate -- 35 speakers were limited to just a few minutes each -- town Supervisor Jim Dougherty had just one word to describe the evening session: "polite."

"We should be proud . . . this is what Shelter Island is all about," Dougherty told the crowd.

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