Developers, eco groups fight over North Fork island

Pristine Plum Island could feature 500 holiday homes if the federal government sells

Sep.September 15, 2016 08:40 AM

Developers are drooling over a beautiful, largely vacant island off Long Island’s North Fork – but any bid to turn it into a vacation destination is facing opposition from environmental groups.

Plum Island was long home to a U.S. animal disease lab run by the Department for Homeland Security. But the lab will move to Manhattan, Kansas in 2023, paving the way for a sale of the island to developers. A 2013 federal environmental report concluded that up to 500 homes could be built on the 840-acre island, which is roughly the size of Central Park.

“Plum Island is maybe one of the most important pieces of real estate to be offered on the East Coast in decades,” David Kapell, a former mayor of Greenport and a real estate broker, said to the Wall Street Journal.

In July, environmental groups including Save the Sound sued the General Services Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, seeking a court order blocking the agencies from selling the island. All four senators from New York and Connecticut want to stop a sale, but their bill has yet to make it to the floor for a vote.

Another complicating factor is that the island falls under the jurisdiction of nearby town Southhold, whose zoning prohibits the construction of holiday homes. “The bidder is going to have factor in the town’s zoning,” said Southhold’s town supervisor Scott Russell. “Development of the island above and beyond what its current use is, isn’t realistic.” [WSJ]  — Konrad Putzier

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