September 2021 Newsletter

The end of a beautiful summer is upon us and it's time for a roundup of news from The Orient Association. Here, the top issues in brief, with links you can follow for more information and ways to get involved.
  • New zoning codes proposed to Southold Town to preserve Orient's Historic District.
  • The work being done by Orient Association in collaboration with the other hamlet civics in Southold to address the issue of house size.
  • Where it stands about the increasing aircraft noise overhead and the FAA lease of the East Hampton Airport due to expire this month.
  • State and County grants (up to $20,000) are funded again to assist homeowners to upgrade their septic systems to be eco-friendly and preserve our aquifers and waterways.
  • Deer and tick crisis survey
Please take a moment to join and/or donate to The Orient Association. We are a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to provide forums for the people of Orient to learn about the issues that affect them, and to express their views and concerns about those issues. Our goal is to find constructive approaches to improve our community and to help solve the problems that we face.
The OA Newsletter cycle is based on news as it develops. Please pass along the link to anyone who would like to receive future newsletters and notices.

Thank you,

Drianne Benner, President
Christine Churchill, Communications
The Orient Association



As a followup to a presentation made earlier this year, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) of Southold Town is asking residents of Orient if they support a public forum to review proposed code changes that would affect the Orient Historic District.
Mariella Ostrowsky, President of the Commission, says that “The success of preservation of the (Orient) historic district rests on the shoulders of its residents. The HPC facilitates that success and has identified where there are shortfalls that negatively influence the continuity that non-contributing properties have on the district; thus the recommended changes in Chapter 170.”

Currently, the existing code, established in 1976 when Orient Historic District was added to the National Registry, covers 190 listed historic houses. By adding two changes to the code, HPC would expand their jurisdiction to include 55 more unlisted homes, as well as vacant and buildable lots within the district. A map is attached. With the exception of park and conservation land, lots and houses in pink areas could potentially be alterned or newly built without limitation on size, aesthetic style or materials.

OA is asking you to consider supporting HPC in their goal taking this topic to public forum, the first step toward adding changes to the existing code. OA is providing a petition you can sign if you agree that the code changes should go to public forum. To be clear, signing the petition does not mean the changes will be adopted.

OA has attached useful links to access more complete information. These are the primary points:
  • The two code changes ensures that we would not have oversized houses built on teardown lots.
    It makes sense to save our streets and byways from insensitive overbuilding within the village and environs. Since much of the village is already subject to Code 170 limits that govern height and volume, HPC would have oversight over buildings and lots not originally listed.
  • The code changes increase property value of all homes inside the district boundaries by upholding its integrity.
    A house trading within a protected neighborhood incentivizes buyers who choose Orient because of its community character. At present, new construction may be built out of scale and incompatible to the house next door, whether a 1940s cottage or a 19th century registered historic home. This leaves Orient vulnerable to potential negative perceptions of property values and ‘eyesores’ that don’t fit in terms of scale or character.
  • The tradeoff: code changes are more flexible than some may perceive.
    The Commission comprises eight appointed members who have met stringent qualifications. They understand the role of preservation on national, state, and local levels; and collectively have an encyclopedic knowledge of historic styles. A review with HPC will assist homeowners undertaking alterations and new construction. HPC member bios and case studies can be made available on request.
  • Finally, the code changes do not discourage the use of alternative energy sources if discreet.
    In other words, sustainability and preservation can work hand in hand. 
Please take the time to cast your vote for or against a public forum about changes to code 170.  The Orient Historic District is central to the character of the hamlet, something we may all take for granted until it is too late. A public forum on the District will provide the chance to learn more about how to preserve the community character of Orient and weigh the case for and against such code changes.



Orient Association extends its appreciation to Southold Town for bringing the issue of housing size forward, and for supporting the North Fork Civics as we work together to add amendments to the zoning code. As acknowledged in the Town’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan, we increasingly see the negative impact of oversized homes: they threaten the essence of community character—the very reason most of us choose to live here—while adding a carbon footprint outsized to our local ecosystems. There is now a growing consensus to stop the trend of ever-increasing house size before it’s too late and our precious community character is lost.
The Orient Association, with neigboring civics Mattituck-Laurel, New Suffolk, Cutchogue and East Marion, worked with a professional planner and architect to develop research and to make recommendations in a report presented to the Town Board in February and May of 2021. Referencing precedents from other East End towns, it used comparison graphs to illustrate what is currently allowable here in Southold Town, compared to what we propose, which is consistent with most East End towns and villages. We are indebted to all for their hard work. A page from the report, above.

We look forward to continuing to support the Town in its effort to adopt into local law limitations to house size in Southold.


Common flight pattern from East Hampton Airport over Orient The skies around Orient are busy and could potentially get much worse.  Currently Orient gets East Hampton bound seaplanes and a small percentage of their helicopters. Orient also gets daily jet and helicopter traffic going to Block, Fishers and the Cape Cod area. Should the East Hampton helicopter operators choose to more heavily utilize the North Shore Route over the LI Sound (one of 3 voluntary routes to East Hampton), Orient will be adversely impacted. Helicopter service is concentrated during late afternoons Thursdays and Fridays as well as Sunday nights and Monday mornings. Operations are such that bad days mean 50-100 window rattling fly bys per day. Each noise event is 1-3 minutes depending on winds and proximity to water. Orient should not be subjected to an aviation superhighway over the LI Sound.  

East Hampton is seeking public comment regarding their airport. This September East Hampton will regain control of their airport after 20 years of FAA control. East Hampton is exploring whether to close the airport, attempt to modify operations, which is legally challenging, or leave it as is. Noise has been a long term problem around the East Hampton airport and it's exponentially worse due to the growth of app-based air taxi services. Orient residents got a taste of how loud and disruptive twin engine helicopter noise is when operators utilized the "Causeway Route" a few years ago. Due to lobbying by the Southold Town Aircraft Noise Committee that route was largely abandoned.  

Orient residents should consider writing to the East Hampton Town Board.  Orient should not be burdened with aviation traffic for which it receives no benefit. Orient has been an extremely quiet and low ambient noise environment for centuries. This should not change to accommodate a tiny number of air taxi users who don't want to take the train or jitney.

Please write letters to voice your concerns and direct here:
-Adam Irving, Orient Resident

Here are some links with useful information -

Septic System Grants Are Back

Early this summer, North Fork County Legislator Al Krupski and other members of the Legislature worked with environmental advocates including Group for the East End to successfully advance an important proposal the will transfer $8 million in excess funds from  the county’s sewer rate stabilization fund into the county’s growing Septic Improvement Program (SIP). 

This Suffolk County SIP grant program provides thousands of dollars to help qualified homeowners defray the cost of converting failing and outdated septic systems to new advanced technology systems that significantly reduce the nitrogen pollution coming from household septic systems and cesspools. 

Nitrogen pollution from residential sewage has been identified as a primary source of pollution in our bays and harbors that must be addressed if we are to improve the health of our coastal environment and there is a lot of work to do.

Because so many seasonal homes were occupied on a year round basis over the last year, Suffolk County experienced an unusual amount of septic failures, mostly related to old and poorly functioning systems that provide little or no meaningful treatment of nitrogen.

The rise in system failures also sparked a rise in participation in the county grant program that rapidly depleted existing funds. The newly appropriate funds coupled with continued support from New York State will sustain the program in the near term, though work still needs to be done to assure a long term and recurring revenue source to fully fund the grant program for the future.

The negative impact of sewage and nitrogen runoff seen from above

If you are interested in learning more about nitrogen pollution and the Suffolk SIP grant program, please visit these websites, links below.

Bob DeLuca
President, Group for the East End

Deer and Tick Crisis – Please Take This Survey

Our town continues to be hard hit by increasing levels of tick-borne diseases and a worsening overpopulation of the ticks’ hosts, deer.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation describes Southold’s situation as “the most severe” in the state and warns of “serious impacts on forest regeneration, biodiversity protection and public health.”

We, the North Fork Civics, have asked the members of the North Fork Deer Alliance and the North Fork Environmental Council to work with us to present a sustainable plan to the Town of Southold to respond to our escalating deer and tick health crisis.

We believe there is a problem and that it is solvable! We can have: Healthy deer, healthy people, healthy nature.

Now, we want to hear from you! We’ve created a community engagement questionnaire entitled “Deer and Ticks: A Southold Public Health Crisis” to learn which health, economic, environmental and quality-of-life factors are most important to you. We also want to learn how much the community knows about how our escalating deer and tick crisis is unique to our island region.

Please respond by Sept. 15, 2021

Viewsheds in Orient and beyond the causeway--let’s protect what we cherish.
Photographer: Sam McIntosh
"My family has owned a home on Leeton Drive for three generations. In recent years there has been a disparate change in character of the newly constructed homes in our area. Bigger is not always better. We are losing the essence, the simplicity of the “beach cottage “ and seashore quality of life, in addition to having the local ecosystem uprooted! My family is still here to savor all the amazing nature that surrounds us-not to risk losing it."

-Southold Resident                                     Facebook

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Orient Association · PO Box 282 · Orient, NY 11957 · USA