Mixed reactions to Mattituck flea market at ZBA hearing

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Iron Skillet co-owner Bob Hartz on the porch of the restaurant.

Members of Southold’s Zoning Board of Appeals are still mulling a request to continue a long-running summer Sunday antique sale at Mattituck’s Iron Skillet restaurant.

At a public hearing Thursday morning, several shoppers, vendors and neighboring businesses spoke in favor of the Love Lane restaurant owners’ application to legalize the flea market, but one neighbor said the sales should not be allowed to continue.

Iron Skillet owners Mary Ann Price and Bob Hartz first applied to the Zoning Board to hold the sales in 2001. At the time, they were given a one year variance allowing them to continue the sales. They continued to hold them for several years, but not many vendors took advantage of the market until the past three years, said Mr. Hartz, when a record 19 vendors set up shop on their front lawn at a sale late last September. Soon after, he and Ms. Price received a notice from the town asking them to stop the sales until they were added to their certificate of occupancy.

Mr. Hartz and Ms. Price currently live above the restaurant. Zoning Board Chairwoman Leslie Kanes Weisman told them Thursday that while she did not have a problem with them using the hamlet business-zoned property for antique vendors, their ¾ acre lot could not accommodate three uses on the site unless the third use was scaled back considerably.

“That’s a small lot. We need to look at how we might mitigate the impacts,” she said.

One neighbor, Margaret Ashton, said that sales have made living on Love Lane “a nightmare.”

She said cars often park in her driveway and a family visiting the yard sale had had a picnic on her neighbors’ front lawn when they weren’t home. She added that vendors setting up start yelling outside her open windows as early as 6 a.m.

“Sleep is impossible and the noise continues all day,” she said. “The north side of Love Lane in no way resembles the south side. The south side is business. It should not be allowed to sprawl out in any direction.”

Several patrons of the sales and members of the business community were convinced that the sales are a good thing for Mattituck.

“When Sunday comes, I welcome a break to go and walk around, enjoy the day,” said Rain Zak. “My husband and I shop at other local shops [while we’re there]. We are spending our hard earned, local money with local businesses. I think this would be a wonderful thing for Southold.”

Mike Avella, who owns the Love Lane Kitchen, is also a fan.

“I’m familiar with Bob’s flea market. In my opinion, it fits the character of our neighborhood,” he said. “I’ve never seen a traffic problem there.”

Former Mattituck Chamber of Commerce President Terry McShane agreed.

“It seems like it’s never caused any problem. When there’s a problem with a business in Mattituck my phone rings, my e-mail goes, and I never heard anything about them,” he said.

The hearing was adjourned until March 3.

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