Another dustup on the waterfront in New Suffolk

12/05/2014 8:00 AM |
The wooden posts erected Sunday along New Suffolk Waterfront's property cuts off some land on which visitors to the hamlet's business district normally park to shop or eat. Now, if cars were to park in rows alongside one another, they'd be encroaching on First Street. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The wooden posts erected Sunday along New Suffolk Waterfront’s property cuts off some land on which visitors to the hamlet’s business district normally park to shop or eat. Now, if cars were to park in rows alongside one another, they’d be encroaching on First Street. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Weeks after the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund’s controversial plan to operate a commercial restaurant on its First Street property was approved by the Southold Town Planning Board, the nonprofit learned this week it will have to submit a revised site plan.

That’s because, on Sunday, the waterfront fund erected wooden posts marking the line of its First Street property in New Suffolk, directly across the street from Legends Restaurant. 

Those posts were quickly noticed by residents and visitors because they prevent drivers from being able to park alongside other cars. In order not to encroach on the street, drivers must now park in a line, bumper-to-bumper, and parallel park, thereby reducing the number of spaces.

The row of wooden posts aren’t depicted in the site plan the Planning Board approved Nov. 17.

“These posts are not in compliance with the approved site plan,” reads a letter signed by Planning Board chairman Donald Wilcenski that is dated Dec. 2. “Changes to the approved site plan require written Planning Board approval. Requests for revision to the approved site plan must be made in writing to the Planning Board for their review.”

The letter asks waterfront fund president Pat McIntyre to schedule an appointment with town planners to address the issue.

“It is going to create a big parking problem and we will get involved,” said Joe Polashock, vice president of the New Suffolk Civic Association.

He said the move is just another example of the waterfront fund’s unwillingness to include the public in discussions about the project.

“We have tried and tried and tried and my forehead is bruised enough,” he said. “We’re getting tired, but we are not going to give up.”

Ms. McIntyre said this week that the group marked off the property line as part of the construction process.

“We have liability issues there,” Ms. McIntyre said. “We don’t need people having accidents on our private property.”

She said the waterfront fund is in talks with the Planning Board and hopes to work with the town to resolve any issues created by the poles.

“It will be resolved soon,” she pledged.

Mr. Polashock said civic association members would discuss the matter during a meeting after the holiday season.

The site plan approved last month calls for the Galley Ho building — which has been vacant more than a decade — to be relocated farther from the shoreline and expanded by 47 square feet. The up-to-66-seat eatery would be situated roughly 75 feet from the water’s edge.

Concerns over parking in the area, which serves as the tiny hamlet’s business district, have been raised time and again by residents and Planning Board officials since the waterfront fund’s project was first publicly discussed in May.

During numerous public hearings on the application, some residents claimed its scope would have a negative impact on the environment and cause parking issues.

They also accused the waterfront fund of a lack of transparency during the site plan application process.

Legends’ owners Diane and Dennis Harkoff, who have spoken out against the project, declined to comment for this story. Another critic, Summer Girl owner Kim Petrie, deferred comment to the civic association.

After the Nov. 17 Planning Board meeting, at which NSWF’s site plan was unanimously approved, Mr. Wilcenski said he hoped the group would work with the town and its neighbors to help alleviate parking issues in the hamlet, though that would likely require additional use of waterfront fund land.

Before approving the application, Mr. Wilcenski told the waterfront fund members in attendance that helping on parking would be “for the good of the New Suffolk community.”

“We have every expectation to help,” replied Barbara Schnitzler, a former waterfront fund chairwoman.

On Monday, before the Planning Board’s letter was mailed, Mr. Wilcenski said the board had received phone calls from residents upset about the poles.

“This is something we’re going to talk to them about,” he said. He declined further comment, saying he preferred to first discuss the matter with the waterfront fund.

[email protected]