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Town considers new approach to expand recreation areas

07/22/2018 5:59 AM |

The Town Board is exploring various zoning options that could bring more recreational uses into town. 

Several proposals have been made over the years by people looking to create different recreational hubs, such as an indoor laser tag facility or a cheerleading camp, but current town code doesn’t accommodate such uses, according to Supervisor Scott Russell.

Among the approaches Mr. Russell proposed at a July 3 work session was a recreational overlay district, which would require a change of zoning to be approved by the Town Board. This option would be more flexible, he said, because the change of zoning comes after a project is specified so that members would have a clear idea of what’s being proposed. 

“The Town Board can consider that as to whether that’s appropriate based on a parcel by parcel basis and, frankly, whether the anticipated use really is consistent with what we’re trying to allow in this new zoning,” the supervisor said.

Mr. Russell also said he’d like to see this used in areas located in and around existing recreational hubs in order to expand similar uses in those areas while remaining consistent with character. 

Mr. Russell noted that Sports East, a proposed athletic facility in Mattituck, was denied a special exception by the Zoning Board Appeals because it did not fit the code’s definition of a “membership club” and was instead a commercial recreational facility, and therefore not permitted. 

A recreational overlay district would allow similar facilities based on certain circumstances and site-specific issues, Mr. Russell said. Other towns, like East Hampton, have established similar overlay districts.

Another proposed option would be to allow recreational uses in the town’s industrial LI and LIO zones by a special exception through the ZBA, Mr. Russell said. A number of recreational facilities could be accommodated by large buildings found in those zones, he added.

Ultimately, there’s public support for recreational facilities such as indoor pools, as found in the recreational chapter of the town’s comprehensive plan, the supervisor said.

The reality, Mr. Russell said, is that the town is not able to build facilities like that on its own, considering the costs needed to do so. 

On Tuesday, Town Board members were given further information on the proposed changes to discuss at a later time. 

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