Editorial: An unfortunate blow for affordable housing

10/04/2015 6:00 AM |

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Mattituck developer Paul Pawlowski announced this week he is withdrawing his plans for a mixed-use development along Main Road in Mattituck. 

He retracted the project after residents of the community, many of them members of the newly formed Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association, spoke out against it at a public hearing last Tuesday. Most opponents cited its potential impact on water quality and traffic. Others expressed a more general concern about a change of zone for that parcel.

But a funny thing happened after Mr. Pawlowski announced he was abandoning the proposal in favor of an as-of-right plan to develop single-family homes on the property. Suddenly, other residents began voicing support for the earlier proposal on local news sites and social media, mostly saying they were in favor of the affordable housing component of the development.

“It’s a real shame that the civic association couldn’t care less about affordable, workforce housing,” wrote one Suffolk Times reader. “Where can young people live in Southold Town? So far, providing housing to young people has been nothing but an exercise in lip service without substantive action.”

It’s a fair point on a very real issue in Southold Town: the need to find places for our younger working residents to live. It’s also a point that should have been made by more people at last week’s hearing.

Affordable housing can most effectively be provided through new development. Action will have to be taken somewhere in this town sometime soon, but it appears, for now, that it’s not going to happen at this particular site.

The civic association, which was just founded earlier this year, has claimed its first victory. It’s too bad that win came at the expense of an opportunity to create some workforce housing conceived of by a developer who appeared willing to work with the community — his community.

Civic associations can play a valuable role in shaping the future of their communities, and the Mattituck group is well on its way to establishing itself as a powerful voice.

Who will step up now to speak out on behalf of our young working people and their families?

Photo Caption: Developer Paul Pawlowski has withdrawn his proposal to build affordable housing above retail stores on Main Road in Mattituck. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

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