Subdivision vote put on hold until property is replanted

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Southold resident Joe Battaglia is building a 5,300-square-foot house on Hobart Road. His neighbors worry about added development if his property is subdivided.

Joseph Battaglia’s plan to subdivide his 2.3-acre property on Hobart Road in Southold is on hold until Southold’s Planning Board is satisfied with his progress at planting new trees on the property.

Mr. Battaglia came under fire from neighbors at a public hearing on the subdivision before the Planning Board last month, at which many decried both his extensive clearing of the land and the large house he’s building on one side of the property.
Mr. Battaglia already has permits in place to build the house.

Mr. Battaglia and his attorney, Patricia Moore, appeared before the Planning Board at a work session Monday night, and both were surprised to learn that board members felt so strongly about the planting.

Ms. Moore said she and her client had received a letter asking them to appear before the board but “the letter didn’t say we weren’t going to go forward. Nowhere did we anticipate we weren’t having a meeting to go forward. … We’d like to get moving on the comments from the public. The planting is a side issue.”

Town planner Mark Terry countered that replanting trees to screen the house from neighbors “was one of the most important things from the beginning.”

“Buffering is integral to this subdivision,” he added.

But, citing Mr. Battaglia’s property rights, Ms. Moore said that if neighbors want to dictate how the property should be developed, they should buy the property.

“There are a certain amount of constitutional rights here,” she said.

Mr. Battaglia said he’s looking for trees that will both provide screening and add color to his property and is scouring nurseries throughout the East End to find the perfect trees. He said his landscaper hadn’t taken screening the property from neighbors into account when designing the landscape plan.

Planning Board members suggested that Mr. Battaglia plant a number of blue spruce and Leyland cypress trees, to provide year-round screening from the neighborhood along with the Norway spruces and white pines already on the property.

“This is a big issue. It’s an important part of the whole project,” said Planning Board member Don Wilcenski. “When you’re done planting, we’ll take a look and sign off on it.”

“As far as I’m concerned, you can’t plant enough,” said Planning Board chairman Martin Sidor.

Mr. Terry was skeptical of the Planning Board’s ability to do anything about some other issues raised at the public hearing.

A dock on the section of the property that would remain vacant after the subdivision was a matter for the Town Trustees, he said. He added that neighbors have asked the Planning Board to limit the size of any structure on the second lot to less than what the town’s current zoning allows, which is something that the Planning Board cannot do.


Pindar Vineyard on Route 25 in Peconic is planning to relocate a 3,259-square-foot steel storage building to a spot 600 feet back from the road on the vineyard property. Until last year, the building had stood behind the winery building, but it was dismantled and a deck was built behind the winery instead. The reassembled building would be used to store tractors, harvesters and other large machinery. Planning Board members did not take issue with the request, which will be scheduled for a future vote.

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