By Emily Toy
Last week, Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi proposed a series of alternative energy measures at a town board meeting to encourage homeowners and businesses to pursue the installation of renewable energy systems.
The proposed legislation would revive and expand the town's solar electric system rebate and incentive program by adding a rebate for geothermal systems, according to a press release from the town. The maximum rebate for solar electric systems would increase from $2500 to $3500, and would allow for a quicker review and waiver of the building permit fee for certain residential subdivision applications.
"We need to go further to incentivize the installation of green technologies," Nuzzi said. "The upfront costs of solar energy equipment still remain a costly alternative to fossil fuels, and certain rebates that have made them accessible to consumers over the past several years are slowly drying up."
The councilman is also trying to get New York State to provide tax relief for those who choose to make an investment in alternative energy technologies. He put forth a bill asking the State Legislature to authorize a property tax reduction for solar and/or geothermal system improvements on both residential and commercial structures.
"Hopefully we'll soon get to a point where clean, renewable energy systems are a more tangible option for everyone, but in the meantime it's important that the Town, and all levels of government, continue to explore ways to incentivize these systems," Nuzzi said.
In other town board news, local officials stepped up efforts to promote reusable shopping bags instead of single-use plastic bags.
Now with the ability to tout more than a year of success, the town's "Greener Southampton: the Solution is in the Bag" campaign proved to be a hit with beachgoers at Sagg Main, Pikes and Ponquogue Beaches.
The town's plastic Bag Education Task Force hosted a reusable bag giveaway at the each of the aforementioned beaches on July 20.
"The day was a great success," said Councilwoman Christine Scalera, co-liaison to the effort. "We had nearly 500 people sign the pledge, committing to reduce, reuse, and recycle their plastic bags, and bring their own bags when shopping. We've had a great response so far and are excited to continue to pursue our goals with the hope of one day eliminating single-use plastic bags from our environment and landfills."
Earlier in the month, two houses, traced back to the 1700s, were recognized by the Southampton Landmarks and Historic Districts Board as being historically and architecturally significant, bringing the town's total number of landmarks to 16.
The Benjamin Foster Homestead in Water Mill and the David Rose and Captain John Rose Residence in North Sea were both given a landmark status.
According to Colonizing Southampton by David Goddard, both the Fosters and the Roses were "important families whose members were constantly in one public office or another."
The Rose Residence is located at 1679 North Sea Road, where the earliest English settlers arrived in 1640, while the Foster Homestead is on Montauk Highway, across the road from the new Parrish Art Museum.
"Preserving these structures is critical to maintaining the character and heritage of our Town and truly gives us a window into the past that is both educational and extremely interesting," said Councilwoman Bridget Fleming.
According to Sally Spanburgh, Chair of the Town's Landmarks and Historic Districts Board, landmark designation often enhances property values, increases the historic integrity of the neighborhood, and promotes its unique architectural character.