After years of work, a draft of the Southold Town comprehensive plan’s land use chapter has been released for the public to discuss and make comments and suggestions. And unlike previous plans which called for wholesale changes, this land use chapter instead provides suggestions on topics like hybrid zoning, housing size and public parking that the town will later explore, said planning director Heather Lanza.
“It really affects so many things,” Ms. Lanza said. “It’s going to set the stage and point us all in the direction we need to go.”
The chapter focuses on several key objectives, including strengthening downtown hamlet centers, adding a new zoning district for businesses along major roads like Route 48 and Main Road, and exploring how to limit the size of residences.
The draft includes a detailed breakdown of data and goals for each hamlet in Southold Town, something Ms. Lanza said was an exciting addition.
“How do you get the businesses to stay in the downtowns?” she asked, noting the plan would try to encourage foot traffic in areas like Love Lane. “That’s what downtowns need.” A type of hybrid mixed-use zoning is suggested as one idea to keep businesses in the hamlets.
Ms. Lanza said the directives of the land use chapter won’t be specifically detailed in this chapter, but instead provide a “roadmap” for the Town Board to later investigate.
“Previous comprehensive plans have had these massive rezoning maps,” Ms. Lanza said. “You’re not going to see that in this plan.”
The land use chapter — the tenth of 11 chapters to be drafted — is now available on the town’s website. The town has scheduled three meetings this month to discuss the chapter with the public. Each meeting will discuss the hamlets in the area of the meeting. They are occurring as follows:
- Saturday April 23, Peconic Community Center, Peconic (Peconic/Southold) — 10 a.m.
- Thursday April 28, Peconic Landing Auditorium, Greenport (Greenport West/East Marion/Orient) — 7 p.m.
- Saturday April 30, Town Senior/Human Resources Center, Mattituck (Mattituck/Cutchogue/Laurel/New Suffolk) — 10 a.m.
Those meetings won’t be public hearings but “input meetings” instead where residents will have the chance to talk back and forth with the town’s planners about where they believe the town should focus in the future.
“It really is truly interactive,” Ms. Lanza said. “People can really change the plan and get their comments into it … It’s going to involve more public input and that’s the way it should be.”
After the public’s input, Ms. Lanza said the planning department will detail changes that were made to the plan and put the chapter up for a public hearing. She hopes to have the entire comprehensive plan, which has been in the works for 6 years, adopted by the Town Board in 2017.
Photo caption: Southold Town planning director Heather Lanza at an informational meeting in 2014. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson)