12 January 2015
Southold Town Board and Code Committee, attention Supervisor Scott Russell
53095 Main Road -- Southold Town Hall
P.O. Box 1179
Southold, NY 11971
Reference: A Southold a Local Law (2014 Draft) in connection with amendments to Chapter
219, Shellfish and Other Marine resources, and Chapter 280, Zoning, in connection with
We have invested over 150 million dollars in preservation of Southold's environmental qualities.
Throughout much of its life the Land Preservation Program has struggled to find words with which to
contract tranqmility. Community expectations of the quid pro quo widely vary. Some seem to believe
preservation assures farming the way it was. Others believe the investment is to subsidize the
agricultural industry. Over time, abuses of zoning/preservation develop. Abuses of intent are largely
not by farmers; rather, they are by those who seek the favored-industry advantages of farming to
practice other businesses.
Entrepreneurs will push the usage envelope. Many talented people have tried their best - still the
vocabulary falls short. Some have said let's wait and see if there is a problem. Well, the problem is
here now in the form of aquaculture and the local slate is almost blank. The Town Code is the best
way to state the rules. Let's accept this lesson and regard this as a new opportunity to clarify the
meaning of the term "agriculture" or "agricultural production."
We understand Ag & Markets Law Article 25AA §301 states that aquaculture in New York State is
considered an agricultural practice. From experience we know that Ag &Markets is prone to
determinations that strike a very liberal view of farming. We know also that the position of
government entities weighs heavily in the courts.
We understand that Chapter 72 of the town Code contains a sweepingly comprehensive listing of
agricultural practices (including aquaculture.) It is largely based on NYS Ag & Markets Law but is
enacted pursuant to § 10 of the Municipal Home Rule Law to promote the public health, safety and
general welfare of Town citizens through land use regulations intended to govern agricultural uses
within the entire Town. As such, it sees agriculture in its community context. Regulation of
agricultural uses in the Town of Southold is necessary to facilitate and encourage bona fide
agricultural operations while providing for the health, safety and welfare of the Town's residents and
its visitors. Both references embrace aquaculture as a type of agriculture.
The Comprehensive Plan Draft does not well recognize the community context of futuristic food
production. Economists tell us that there will be insufficient food for the planet's people by 2050,
maybe as early as 2030 -- that's only about 25 years from now! We accept aquaculture as a type of
agriculture and it is a natural pursuit for Southold with its abundant water resources. We must plan
for food production.
Growing food is a process. The history of process development since the Bronze Age tells
us that the process will be incrementally refined. Itwill be refined by eliminating variables. Soil quality,
once considered the foundation of profitable farming, will be irrelevant - growing media will be
synthesized and standardized. We will have carbohydrate and protein factories where crop risk can
be controlled and crop quality managed. Growing of tomatoes has already moved indoors and half
of the fish consumed on the planet are now farm raised.
We must write the future into our Town Code. The call is not whether to allow aquaculture. Rather, it
is to write code now to set requirements for generally acceptable aquaculture - including upland
aquaculture. Itis only fair to declare the 'rules" before people contemplate aquacultural use. As well
as agricultural practices, we need to clearly address environmental affects and aesthetic
• Recognize two types of Aquaculture: Maritime and Upland Aquaculture.
• Vistas make the North Fork special:
o Siting should probably be restricted to M-II, LIO, as well as A-C Parcels of at least 5 acres.
o A siting algorithm based upon more than just "zone" should be specified -
consider proximity to higher density residential zones such as R-40, R-80. o 10% lot coverage
should be sufficient.
o Height of objects obstructing vistas should be limited.
• Effect on Water is critical:
o Control upland waste water to point standards.
o Control ground water use (flow) unless such water is immanently released back to the land (to
abet water table stability.)
o Control storage/ disposal of waste.
• Other Quality of Life Issues - require a site plan and Town review. o Noise (refrigeration,
o Smell (odor control) o Exterior lighting
o Non-agricultural uses such as weddings and tours.
• Design and provide sufficient resources to monitor and enforce adopted code.
The existing code already includes restrictions on agricultural uses (e.g., ducks and pigs) so we are
not breaking new ground. Chapter 72 provides a definition of agriculture, but it lacks detailed
controls on agricultural use that, by review, would not be deemed unreasonably restrictive by NYS
Ag & Markets. Black letter statement of the "rules" before the fact is the fair way to mitigate potential
abuses. I trust that is your objective and I wish you success.