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Suffolk County May Put Brakes On Conservation

Submitted by Elizabeth Mooney on Wed, 2012-02-08 17:39.

With dedicated open space funds dwindling, a Suffolk County lawmaker has proposed a 90-day moratorium on key land preservation initiatives. 

Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn's compromise plan would shorten County Executive Steve Bellone's proposal for a six-month moratorium.Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn's compromise plan would shorten County Executive Steve Bellone's proposal for a six-month moratorium.Kara Hahn, the newly appointed chair of the County Environment and Planning Committee, said she agrees "with everyone's assessment that protecting our land is important. But our obligation to the taxpayers is to know what we have with this limited pool of money to spend."

Hahn's proposal would halt all new surveys, appraisals and purchase offers, and comes as the county's pioneering open space program (which is funded by a quarter-cent sales tax) can no longer borrow against future revenues, according to Newsday.

Hahn's proposed three-month moratorium is shorter than the minimum of six months that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's administration called for last month. 

Nonetheless, several key environmental groups are urging the Suffolk County Legislature to maintain a strong commitment to the future of land protection funding across Suffolk County.

The Group for the East End joined with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and the Nature Conservancy to develop and submit what they described as "a comprehensive statement to the Legislature that details the value and need for a strong and sustaining commitment to land protection across the county."

Perhaps most importantly, the groups noted that Suffolk County relies on a sole source aquifer for its drinking water, without which -- it should go without saying -- no economic development is possible. 

Furthermore, they quoted public survey results indicating broad and deep support, despite tough economic times, for open space preservation. The overwhelming majority of voters, regardless of stated political party affiliation, also say they understand that Long Islanders don't have to choose between the economy and the environment.


 

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