Planning Board: Two projects held up over site plan concerns

Two projects that have been before the Town Planning Board since last year are being held up further by concerns about site plans.

The owners of a horse farm on Ackerly Pond Road in Southold who want to build a riding academy there were told this week that their project will not receive approval until drainage plans for the 10-acre property are better defined.

Later in the same work session, an attorney for Sherwood House Vineyard was told that construction on a driveway, patio and restroom at the winery’s tasting area on Oregon Road in Mattituck could not continue until details about the parking area and proposed bathroom are more clearly outlined.

Planning Board chairman Donald Wilcenski assured representatives of both projects that the board wants to work with them, but he said that until both site plans are improved neither would gain approval.

“We’re not trying to throw you under the bus here,” Mr. Wilcenski told horse farm owner Lucille Sullivan. “But you need to come in with a better plan.”

This is not the first setback for the riding academy project. Co-owners Ms. Sullivan and Brian Glenn were previously asked to include a new driveway entrance due to complaints from neighbors who share the existing driveway. The town’s architectural review committee also recommended that they build a manure storage container that would be emptied every week.

Even those changes were further questioned this week by town engineer Jamie Richter and planner Brian Cummings. The manure transfer station is located too close to the property line, Mr. Richter said, and plans do not spell out how the two driveways are separated.

A major sticking point raised at Monday’s work session was drainage on the property, which is adjacent to Ackerly Pond. Mr. Richter said the plans fail to indicate any existing drains on the property and that additional drainage swales need to be better detailed.

Ms. Sullivan said anyone who spends time on the property can see that stormwater drains away easily.

“After any rain, you’d find the water flows back onto our property,” she said. “This is absolute craziness.”

But Mr. Wilcenski said there’s a method to the madness.

“Our concerns are about the lack of information on the plan,” he said. “We want to work with you. It doesn’t sound that way, but this is a process.”

Sherwood House attorney Patricia Moore said the planning process is costing her clients big bucks.

Planners said that after site plans for the tasting room were rejected earlier this year, new plans were submitted August 10. But even those plans aren’t up to snuff, officials said.

One major concern identified is a lack of detail about a restroom the winery was asked to include. While Ms. Moore assured the board that it would be ADA compliant, she said she was unsure exactly how large the single-toilet bathroom would be.

Board member Bill Cremers said he couldn’t support site plan approval until the restroom is better detailed.

“I need time to think about it,” he said.

Ms. Moore pleaded with Mr. Cremers and his fellow board members to advance the plans since she said vineyard owners Charles and Barbara Smithen are losing money on the property.

“Don’t think about it too long,” she told Mr. Cremers. “Because if you do, you won’t see a business there.”

Mr. Wilcenski advised Ms. Moore to make certain the site plans get updated immediately so the board can offer a determination within the next two weeks.

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