More than a dozen local residents and business owners have filed a lawsuit appealing the Southold Town Planning Board’s site plan approval for the relocation and renovation of the Galley Ho restaurant building on the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund property.
The petitioners allege in an Article 78 filed in state Supreme Court on Dec. 23 that the Planning Board violated New York State Environmental Quality Review Act procedure when it made its determination for environmental review in the same resolution approving the site plan Nov. 17.
“The Respondent failed to follow the mandatory review procedure under SEQRA as it waited until it was approving the action to render its decision instead of making the SEQRA determination when it first had received the application for development of the property,” the suit reads.
The site plan approved in November 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.
The petition, which calls for a reversal of the Planning Board’s SEQRA determination and site plan approval, also alleges the town did not properly characterize the scope of the project when it determined no further environmental review was necessary for the property.
“[It’s] situated on Cutchogue Harbor, a designated Critical Environmental Area and part of the recognized and protected Peconic Estuary,” the petition reads. “This alone mandates a hard look at the potential environmental impacts of a development plan.”
Town officials said this week that they are currently preparing a response to the suit.
“Counsel is reviewing the case now,” Town Supervisor Scott Russell wrote in an email Wednesday. “Naturally we will defend the decision-making of the Planning Board.”
Waterfront Fund chairwoman Patricia McIntyre said she hopes the the action will not slow down the nonprofit group’s redevelopment project on its land.
“We believe the town did the right thing,” she said.
Ms. McIntyre said the NSWF has completed a portion of the first phase of its development — baling hay, excavating and installing fencing on the property. She said the Planning Board has also allowed her organization to keep wooden posts installed on the perimeter of the property, despite previous concern.
The owners of the neighboring Legends restaurant and Summer Girl boutique, outspoken opponents of the project throughout the planning process, are among the petitioners in the suit.
The parties are due in court Jan. 27.