The town of Southold New York has approved new zoning measures that will protect much of Plum Island from development.
For years, the 840 acre island in Long Island Sound has been home to a government laboratory that studies animal diseases. It's also served as an unofficial wildlife sanctuary for dozens of species, some of them endangered.
In 2009 Congress passed legislation calling for the lab to relocate to Kansas, and charged the federal Government Service Administration with selling the island. The GSA issued an environmental impact statement earlier this summer that recommended auctioning off Plum Island, opening the door for development of the remote parcel of land.
On Tuesday night, the town board of Southold, New York, which has jurisdiction over Plum Island unanimously agreed to new zoning measures that will protect most the island, about 600 acres from development should it be sold. "It allows for limited re-use and development, basically following the footprint of the Plum Island Disease Research Center. The remainder of the Island, 600 acres or so will be set aside as open space" says Charles Rohenberger, an attorney with the advocacy group Save the Sound. "It's certainly a strong, pro-active measure by the town of Southold"
Last month a group of New York and Connecticut lawmakers introduced federal legislation to stop the sale of Plum Island altogether.