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Town planners and civic associations have held a series of meetings on land use and the future of Southold. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Civic group, wary of development pressure, wants to discuss moratorium

Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association is holding a community meeting Jan. 30 to discuss “all things moratorium,” the group announced today. On the meeting agenda will be understanding what a moratorium is as well as the benefits and challenges a moratorium presents.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell will be the featured speaker at the meeting, to be convened at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Mattituck.

“With seven building applications pending, should Mattituck consider a moratorium?” the group asked in its announcement.

The program will also include a discussion of the concept of a charrette, which is a period of intense, collaborative community planning.

Mary Eisenstein (right), founder and president of the Mattituck-Lauren Civic Association at a meeting in 2015. president. File photo.

“We’re hoping for a really good, vibrant meeting,” Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association president Mary Eisenstein said.

The civic group has established a land use committee to tackle land use issues in the hamlets.

“Part of our mission statement is informing and educating,” Eisenstein said. “So let’s kick off the new year with an educational information session that asks the questions, ‘what is a moratorium?’and ‘what is a charette?’ We will have a question and answer period with the supervisor.”

Russell stirred up controversy recently with his suggestion of a moratorium on all new winery, brewery and distillery approvals, to allow the town time to sort out issues related to those uses and update an antiquated town code.

The proposal drew fire from the Long Island Wine Council and the Long Island Farm Bureau and garnered no support on the town board.

But time is a precious commodity that may be running short for the Mattituck hamlet, Eisenstein fears.

File photo: Denise Civiletti

The town planning department is still working to finish the final chapter of the comprehensive plan update — transportation. Though it completed the land use chapter of the plan, there is still a ways to go before the plan’s components can be codified. It will require review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and public hearings before the town board board can vote on new code provisions — which have not yet been drafted.

Town planning director Heather Lanza set a goal date of early 2018 for adoption of the new code, Russell said today.

“I don’t see that happening,” the supervisor said. “It will take at least six to nine months just to draft the code for presentation to the public,” he said. “Then there will be community charettes and SEQRA review. It’s a big, long process.”

Eisenstein said she and other civic members are concerned about what may happen in the meantime.

“All the recommendations that came out of that whole process are meaningless until they’re codified,” she said, referring to the development of the land use chapter of the comprehensive plan, which included a series of community meetings in each of the hamlets. See prior stories. 

Developer Paul Pawlowski addresses the Zoning Board of Appeals during a hearing at Town Hall in October. File photo: Denise Civiletti

“Right now there are a minimum of seven applications in Mattituck alone and more to come, I’m sure,” Eisenstein said. Proposals for a 21-acre wooded parcel on Main Road in Mattituck has been the center of much controversy among residents over the past few years. The site, owned by developer Paul Pawlowski, has been the subject of proposals for mixed-use workforce housing and retail shops and a sports facility.  Pawlowski withdrew plans  three times after they drew sharp criticism from the residents. He currently has a revised plan for a sports facility before the town. 

Eisenstein stressed that the civic association wants to have an inclusive discussion involving all community stakeholders, including landowners, businesses and developers.