After developer Paul Pawlowski expressed frustration that the Southold Town Board wasn’t moving quickly to approve a change of zone that would pave the way for his proposed retail and apartment complex on Main Road in Mattituck, board members were expected Tuesday night to set a public hearing on the plan for 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 22.
At a Town Board work session Tuesday morning, Supervisor Scott Russell said he wanted to discuss the development more with town officials before scheduling the public hearing. But as board members discussed whether to move forward with the hearing, Mr. Pawlowski, a Southold Town resident and owner of Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue, spoke up and said the board was going in circles.
“I feel like we’ve had this exact discussion,” Mr. Pawlowski said. “I’m not pointing fingers, but this started in February … there’s a fully executed sketch plan already done, fully done from these exact comments in February.”
Mr. Pawlowski has asked the board to convert 3.8 acres of residential acreage on the south side of Main Road to General Business zoning.
Mr. Pawlowski had previously proposed building 75 affordable rental units on the property, but nixed those plans when town officials didn’t support the project. The newest proposal — a “campus-style” development with 14,000 square feet of retail space and a dozen two-bedroom apartments — has been the main topic of discussion at recent meetings of the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association.
The developer told board members his plan had been submitted to the Planning Board, but had stopped there because the new zoning had not yet been approved by the Town Board.
Mr. Pawlowski said the proposed development would fit within the code if zoning for the lot were changed. He understands what the Planning Board would require to approve the project, such as preventing “box stores” from occupying the retail space, and would agree to “covenants” to get it done.
“I took every syllable of that into consideration [when designing the development],” Mr. Pawlowski said. “I did all that and I’m willing to covenant everything prior to the zoning change … I’m completely in utter shock that this is where we’re at.”
But Mr. Russell said the Town Board needed to discuss the plans further and see if it would be acceptable before moving forward with a public hearing.
“I don’t want you involved in the process at this point. You’re an applicant,” Mr. Russell said. “I want you removed from the process because the town has work to do … this is our fact-finding.”
The supervisor’s fellow board members didn’t agree. Councilman Jim Dinizio said the town could find the answers during an open forum about his plans.
“This discussion would be better served at an announced public hearing on his application,” Mr. Dinizio said.
“I think the public hearing’s purpose is to gather the facts,” agreed board member Jill Doherty.
Councilman Bob Ghosio proposed setting a public hearing for next month, which would give Mr. Pawlowski enough time to prepare. Mr. Russell ultimately agreed, saying the hearing could be held open if questions remained about the proposed development.