A Hampton Bays-based wildlife rehabilitation center is looking to open a second location on the North Fork.
The Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center is a full-time professional wildlife hospital providing rehabilitation services for wildlife native to the local area.
Its current facility, located at Munn’s Pond Park in Hampton Bays, on land licensed from the Suffolk County parks department, is operating at or over-capacity, representatives of the rescue center told members of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association at the civic’s monthly meeting Saturday afternoon.
If the rescue doesn’t find additional space, volunteer Jim Hunter said Saturday, it will have to begin euthanizing animals.
Billionaire businessman Leslie Alexander owns a 23-acre parcel on the south side of Main Road in Aquebogue and has offered the property to the rescue group for use as a wildlife hospital. Alexander established a generous endowment for the Wildlife Rescue Center in 2011, which led to the nonprofit group changing its name to honor Alexander’s mother, Evelyn. The Aquebogue center would be named for his father, Jack Alexander.
In order for the rescue center to use the site as a wildlife rescue, the town board will have to change the zoning code to allow the use in the Rural Corridor zoning use district.
Town officials have offered to make the change, to allow “wildlife rescue” as a special permit use in the RLC district, both the rescue group representatives and Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith agreed.
The site, however, is split-zoned, with the approximately six acres fronting Main Road zoned Rural Corridor — a commercial district — and the approximately 18 acres to the south zoned residential. The residential zoning would allow a development yield of one house per two acres of land.
The rescue group would like to “avoid residential development,” volunteer Bernadette Tuthill said. Tuthill is an attorney at the Riverhead law firm of Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin and Quartararo. The rescue center has spoken with County Legislator Al Krupski’s office about the possibility of selling the development rights to the county, Tuthill said.
The northern six acres, give or take, that front on Route 25 are already improved with several buildings, which would be repurposed, Tuthill said. The structures would not be expanded. One would be used for office space, another for a hospital, another for a space used to acclimate wildlife before release.
There would be no tours of the facility except school groups, though members of the public would be allowed limited access to certain designated areas, she said. Tourism is not part of the group’s plan for the site, Tuthill. The rescue center does allow visits by school groups, by invitation only, she said.
Jens-Smith said town officials have been meeting with the rescue group for about a year.
“They came in — they didn’t want to put any houses or any tourism attraction,” Jens-Smith said in an interview today.
“Then (attorney) Pete (Danowski) came back and said we want to preserve the right to develop housing there,” the supervisor said. “And we said, ‘No that’s not what they said’ and encouraged them to talk to the county.”
Hunter and Tuthill said Saturday the organization would like to sell the development rights on the south 18 acres in order to raise revenues to help support the group’s operations.
“We’ve been waiting to hear back from them,” Jens-Smith said.
This story is free to read thanks in part to the generous support of readers like you. Keep local news free. Become a member today.