What would you like to see developer build in Mattituck?

A local developer’s plan to build 14,000 square feet of commercial retail space and a dozen affordable two-bedroom apartments in Mattituck appears headed for a public hearing.

Paul Pawlowski, a lifelong Southold Town resident and the owner of Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue, is seeking a change of zone to proceed with development plans for a 21-acre parcel he owns on the south side of Main Road, just west of Sigsbee Road. 

At a joint meeting Tuesday morning between Southold’s Town Board and Planning Board, the consensus was that Mr. Pawlowski should move forward with his plans to seek a change of zone from residential to a general business zoning district for the 3.8 acres that would be developed for retail use. Town officials agreed the change of zone process would initiate a public hearing, affording the town the opportunity to hear from residents on what they would like to see built there.

The property’s current residential zoning allows for the development of multiple single-family homes there, which could have a significant impact on the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District, Supervisor Scott Russell said.

“You’re looking at eight or nine single-family homes,” he said. “[Two-bedroom] apartments might limit the number of children.”

Planning Board chairman Donald Wilcenski suggested that the developer, who could not be reached for comment this week, would move forward with the residential development of the property absent the approval of a zone change.

“Mr. Pawlowski was quite clear that he’s going to do something there,” Mr. Wilcenski said.

Mr. Pawlowski had previously proposed building 75 affordable rental units on the property, but dropped those plans after he failed to muster support from town officials. He presented his new plans at an April meeting of the newly formed Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association, which has made it a priority to keep tabs on Mr. Pawlowski’s development plans. On the agenda for next week’s civic meeting are discussions from town planners and a local environmentalist on issues related to development of the parcel.

In March, the Planning Board indicated in a memo to the Town Board that it supports the overall concept for development of the property — with certain conditions that would be included in covenants and restrictions. While the Planning Board said it believes the commercial development is consistent with other properties in the immediate area, it had concerns about certain uses general business zoning would allow, including a big box stores, a 24-hour convenience store or a gas station.

The memo also outlined several ways the project could be in line with the development goals and objectives identified in the town’s comprehensive plan, including job creation, the expansion of diverse and affordable housing stock, projects that support the arts and development initiative through public-private partnerships. Mr. Pawlowski’s petition includes plans to construct an open-air arts pavilion on 17 acres that would be dedicated to the town for open space preservation.

“There are compelling parts of [the plan], particularly the open space,” said Councilman Bill Ruland. “But there’s only 25 feet [separating the development from] neighbors on Sigsbee Road … I think there should be some sort of public hearing to lay out for neighbors what is happening.”

Councilman Jim Dinizio agreed that moving forward with the change of zone process to allow for a public hearing is essential.

“People, when they see that yellow sign out in front and it’s something as controversial as this, they’re coming,” he said.

Mr. Russell said the next step will be for Mr. Pawlowski to complete the change of zone application process before the town schedules a public hearing.

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