Home News Local News Southold ZBA to Sports East: ‘It’s not a permitted use.’

Southold ZBA to Sports East: ‘It’s not a permitted use.’

Paul Pawlowski speaks to the zoning board after their decision was announced. Photo: Katharine Schroeder

Sports East was dealt another blow by the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals, who voted unanimously to uphold the building inspector’s determination that the fitness club was not a permitted use of the land on Main Road in Mattituck despite Sports East’s revisions to their plans.

“I’m going to make a motion to uphold the building inspector’s determination that the use as proposed by Sports East does not meet the definition of a club, membership or country or golf. Rather, the proposed use meets the definition of a recreational facility commercial,” said ZBA chairperson Leslie Weisman.

After one board member commented that it had been a “bittersweet” and “difficult” decision to make, Weisman said, “If it were deemed to be a permitted use it would be a completely different story because then all of the [community] support would be relevant to a special exception permit. But the use has to be permitted in that zone district.”

Paul Pawlowski, one of the partners of Sports East was visibly shaken and spoke directly to Weisman, asking why use was not discussed when he first applied two years ago.

“At the first ZBA public hearing we came before you and it was actually said in the minutes this is an allowable use but we can not render special exception decision until SEQRA is done,” said Pawlowski. “Where does SEQRA come in at all? It’s just a question that’s been burning inside from day one. I really just would like an answer. We put a lot of effort forth and use was never questioned by the ZBA at the first public hearing. We were given marching orders to do SEQRA, which is all engineering, it has nothing to do with use.”

“This is not a meeting where dialogue takes place,” interrupted Weisman.

“That’s a copout,” replied Pawlowski.

“You sent me for two years to do SEQRA,” he said, and then directed his comments at Southold Town Attorney Bill Duffy.

“I met with you with my attorney,” said Pawlowski. “You verbatim said do A,B,C and D and this will meet the code and that’s on record with my attorney. That is 100 percent the truth. You said ‘Scott wants this, Leslie wants this. This will get approved.'”

Duffy disagreed.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Pawlowski said this:

“Today’s decision was not good for all involved. Our team tried everything in its power to get this done for our community as it is needed. We have been left powerless and we can no longer continue this process. We have spent nearly two years and a good amount of money and it’s left us with yet another denial.

Bottom line is this will never be done with private funds again and if our officials want this to happen they need to make it happen and I wish them success as this is needed.

The merits of this application should have been enough and it was not. However, we felt we were within code and following the same rule book as other membership clubs. I guess we were wrong.

Thank you for everyone that has supported this process. 

To the town officials: we tried and it didn’t work and now it is on you.”

Katharine is a writer and photographer who has lived on the North Fork for nearly 40 years, except for three-plus years in Hong Kong a decade ago, working for the actor Jackie Chan. She lives in Cutchogue. Email Katharine