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Editorial: Don't miss chance to save the Carmans

A swan passes by near the banks of

A swan passes by near the banks of the Carmans River in South Haven County Park in Brookhaven. (March 29, 2012) Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Can we please think of the river, not the politics? At the Brookhaven Town Board meeting today, there's a chance the Carmans River's future may prevail, but recent history doesn't offer a lot of reason to hope. If the board doesn't act, it will be unnecessarily turning its back on one of the region's major environmental concerns.

There's been a months-long struggle to protect the river by transferring development rights from the land around it to blighted "receiving areas" in other parts of the Town of Brookhaven, for the construction of multifamily housing. But the proposed locations ignited a firestorm. A new compromise would postpone final decisions on those locations until year's end, but pass other elements of the plan now.

The plan that drew so much opposition was the result of long negotiations involving Supervisor Mark Lesko, environmental groups and the Long Island Builders Institute, whose members would be building multifamily housing in the designated areas. Despite more than 30 public meetings during the process of putting the plan together, opponents griped that they didn't have enough of a chance to weigh in.

The compromise, acceptable both to the environmentalists and the builders, would keep the plan moving by passing parts of it today -- including the new multifamily zoning code -- and allowing four months for public input on the exact locations. That seems like a rational approach. But opposition to the plan has not been entirely rational. It is rooted in a deep fear of multifamily housing -- a housing option that Long Island desperately needs in greater abundance.

It's time for reason -- and the river -- to win the day over irrational fears. Let's stop the politics and save the Carmans.