Featured Story

Featured Letter: Where’s the planning?

As Ingrid Lemme, marketing director for Gurney’s Inn in Montauk, was quoted by Jeff Miller in Long Island Business News on Dec. 4, 2008, “If it comes to pass, it will be the biggest spa on Long Island.” Specifically, the subject was the motels, restaurants, conference center, gardens and marina known as Shizen Hotel Wellness Center & Spa on the Beach in Southold proposed by Kazuko Tatsumura Hillyer, Ph.D, president of the corporate property owner, Oki-Do Ltd., and director of the related not-for-profit public charity, Gaia Holistic Inc.

The Zoning Board of Appeals has declared the special exception application dormant, obsolete and expired. The Planning Board has declared the site plan application abandoned. The applicant has been advised to restart the application by applying to the building department for a building permit. The current notice of disapproval from the building department does not mention that the proposed development will require a permit from the Board of Trustees.

At a public hearing on March 24, 2016, the Board of Trustees announced it would not make any decision on the Oki-Do Shizen application for wetlands and coastal erosion zone permits until a new site plan application is filed with the Planning Board. The Planning Board may be the “lead agency” pursuant to New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (aka SEQRA), but pursuant to the land-use laws of the Town of Southold and the State of New York, the Zoning Board of Appeals is the legal agency from which the primary permits are required.

Why did Southold permit the applicant to continue with the Planning Board application after the ZBA application lapsed? Why doesn’t Southold Town formalize the logical process of coordination of town agencies? I have been trying to help for well over 10 years, but progress has been sluggish and retrogression has been gaining momentum.

Records of applications to the various town agencies are not cross-referenced. If new Shizen applications are filed with the building department, ZBA and Planning Board, it is unclear if the records from the old applications will be incorporated into the records for the new applications.

Benja Schwartz, Cutchogue