The Southold Town planning and zoning boards have approved a controversial proposal for a riding academy in Mattituck.
On Monday, the Southold Town Planning Board approved Showalter Farms’ site plan and attached several conditions set by the planning and zoning boards, including a limit on how many special events the farm can host per year and when a small dead-end road on the property can be used.
The plan includes adding three horse barns and an outdoor riding/training area on a 24-acre preserved farm in Mattituck.
The facilities would be built on four unpreserved acres of the property. The town purchased the development rights on the other 20 acres in 2011.
Monday’s decision also resulted in an approval of a prior special exception permit awarded by the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Nov. 11, which was contingent on the Planning Board signing off on the site plan for the work.
The farm, owned by Christopher and Joanne Showalter of Southold, had come under fire from some neighbors and community members after an advertisement in an equestrian publication boasted additional features at the farm, and language in the site plan describes the proposal as “phase one.”
The farm was previously owned by Pindar Vineyards and was purchased for nearly $1 million last December by Showalter Farms LLC, a corporation formed that year by Mr. Showalter, who’s a former member of the Southold Town Ethics Board.
As part of the planning process for Mr. Showalter’s proposal, the planning and zoning boards both set a series of conditions.
The ZBA’s special permit states the farm’s owners can hold no more than six special events on the property each year, with each event requiring a special use permit.
To add an indoor ring to the property, something the advertisement mentioned, Showalter Farms would need to go before the board again, according to a list of the conditions.
Horse manure must be stored 150 feet away from the property’s lines and must be removed once a week.
The Planning Board is also requiring the owners to go the town’s building department if the use or occupancy of the property changes.
Under the approval, the property is subject to an annual inspection from a town building inspector, and a small road on the property, Noah’s Path, has been reserved for emergency personnel only and cannot be used for agricultural purposes.
The site plan for the property was filed on June 20, 15 days after a stop-work order was issued at the property when a town code enforcement officer determined construction had begun without Planning Board approval or a building permit, town records show.
Ms. Showalter told the Suffolk Times in August that the only construction on the property had to do with residing an existing barn and placing a pre-fab barn that was purchased out of town.