Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Comprehensive Plan Will Help Achieve Sustainability

By Howard Meinke

As we contemplate all the twists and turns that the discussion of sustainability takes it becomes apparent that we need to have a mental picture of the “ultimate Southold” so that we can look at it through the lens of sustainability. Here we look at what we see as the best and most rewarding future for Southold.

Imagine Southold as a permanent retreat from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Second homes, vacationing, wine tours, farm stand shopping, beach time, golf time, fishing, boating, art, culture and general relaxing as a prime product of Southold. We are close to the homes of millions of people who need the therapy that Southold provides. In today’s economic situation the minimal drive time and resource use to get here is important.

To preserve Southold in a sustainable way and to continue to meet this need will not be easy. We will need to preserve open spaces, the views of farm and bay, the working farms, the vineyards, the open access to bays, creeks and the Sound. We must keep the small town feel of the hamlets and support local business and our people while fighting off big chain stores and the infectious “shopping mall fever”.

Local agriculture is especially important. With rising shipping costs and the environmental damage from long distance diesel trucking; buying local is a strong advantage.

Over all population pressure and congestion brought on by uncontrolled development is the elephant in the room. It is generally true that the evils of overdevelopment are unstoppable by the time the building outcry gets attention. Control of growth with an eye to this greater purpose is another plus for sustainability.

The Comprehensive Master Plan, when written with the required input of the citizens and then supported by the necessary legislation is the strongest weapon that we have to maintain the Southold described above. If we follow the dictates of “the plan” we can preserve the Southold that we want while supporting the goal of sustainability.

Now, in a time of low economic activity is when “the plan” should be executed. When building and developing come roaring back to Southold it will be too late for legislation and we citizens will suffer the personal loss of Southold as well as the environmental loss. We can not let this happen.

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