Pike Street plan has few fans

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Developer Ed Broidy

A developer who plans vast changes to the streetscape on Pike Street in Mattituck isn’t likely to achieve his goal any time soon.

Ed Broidy owns a building on a quarter-acre just east of Love Lane where he hopes to put up a 2,573-square-foot shopping center with three stores and two upstairs apartments and keep a 600-square-foot structure that’s already on the site.

To do so, he will need what town Zoning Board members have made clear they consider a huge area variance from the town code, which requires lots in that neighborhood to be three times bigger than his. He also needs three variances from front and side yard setback requirements because what he wants to build on the small lot won’t fit within the limits.

Mr. Broidy told the board at a public hearing last Thursday that his project was in keeping with the streetscape of Love Lane, a cheek-by-jowl stretch of storefronts that have no front or side yards.

Zoning Board members noted in response to Mr. Broidy’s observation about Love Lane’s lack of side yard that the storefonts there predate zoning.

Board member James Dinizio, who said that he will write the board’s decision on the case, said that Mr. Broidy had done nothing to convince the board that such a large variance was necessary.

Mr. Dinizio read a section of Mr. Broidy’s application that read “There will be no change of character. It will mirror Love Lane.”
“That’s your words, not mine,” said Mr. Dinizio. “There’s going to be a change in the character when you do what you want to do … You have to give us more thorough reasons … I need something more concrete than ‘this is going to be a great thing for Mattituck’.”

Zoning Board chairwoman Leslie Weisman said that she had received a letter from Planning Board chairman Martin Sidor expressing concern over such a large-scale project on such a small lot.

“Love Lane is unique property. It’s a continuous wall of stores,” said Ms. Weisman. “Right next to your property on one side is a house, on the other side is shops with parking in the front, with a substantial setback. I don’t think that Pike Street has the same character as Love Lane.”

Mr. Broidy, who appeared without an attorney, said that he believed the board misunderstood his intent.

“I know I’m a developer, but I’m also a creative man,” he said. “I went out on a limb to make sure this is an attractive addition.” Mr. Broidy disclosed at the hearing that his pending proposal isn’t all there was to his long-term plans: he and his partners intend to buy the house next door to his Pike Street property and build five more retail stores on that site.

“Each building on Love Lane is right on top of each other,” he said, arguing that his proposal would “enhance the area,” providing apartments that he said “everyone” wanted “in the downtown area.”

“It’s necessary to have life in that area,” he said.

Mr. Broidy agreed that he could tear down the existing brick building, which board members thought would slightly reduce the aesthetic impacts of the area variance he was requesting. He said that he had kept that building in the plans only because he thought it would be a good idea to help maintain the historic character of the property.

Michael Herbert, who said he had lived on Pike Street since 1985, was the only member of the public who spoke at the hearing. He urged the board not to approve a project without room for its own on-site parking.

“Pike Street is a narrow street. There’s the firehouse there and there’s a lot of traffic coming up and down that street,” he said. “On-site parking is pivotal.”

Board members urged Mr. Broidy to retain a lawyer who could better argue his case according to the legal tests that a zoning board must apply, to weigh the benefits and detriments of granting variances from the zoning code.

“What happened on Love Lane happened in the past. It doesn’t pertain to your application,” said Zoning Board member George Horning. “I wouldn’t want you to come here with the mistaken idea that tearing down the building in the back is going to solve your problems. You do need expert counsel of some kind. Re-evaluate your plan … The chances of this working out for you are very dicey.”

The hearing was tabled until March 3 at 1 p.m.

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