Plans to tear down and rebuild a structure currently housing a pharmacy and an orthodontist’s office in Cutchogue was met with sharp criticism during a Southold Town Planning Board public hearing Monday.
About a dozen concerned residents attended the meeting to express opposition to property owner Al Terp’s plans to replace the existing 2,100-square-foot Main Road building with a 5,600-square-foot structure divided into five smaller storefronts. The new building would feature an archway connecting it with the neighboring 10,000-square-foot building housing Country Delicatessen.
“What bothers me the most about this project is that Cutchogue is a small town with small buildings and we already have something that really was a mistake and now they want to expand upon that,” said Linda Auriemma of New Suffolk.
Southold attorney Pat Moore spoke on Mr. Terp’s behalf during the meeting saying the proposed 5,600 square-foot building would bring new services and would be designed in a way that would improve the character of the community. Local residents who spoke Monday disagreed, questioning the design of the proposal and saying the new building could exacerbate existing traffic problems and adversely impact quality of life in the hamlet
“When we take the charm out of a little town it doesn’t ever come back,” said Cutchogue resident Nancy Muller, who likened the design of the building to Riverhead’s Tanger Outlet Center. Ms. Muller pointed to the library, the diner and the hardware store as examples of buildings that enhance the look of the community.
Members of the neighboring Old Town Arts & Crafts Guild have opposed the proposal since it was first announced in March. On Monday, the organization’s president said the guild had a number of environmental concerns related to wastewater treatment on the property.
“The guild does not believe the existing wastewater system on the Terf retail property is situated at the right distance from the guild’s well,” he said. “The guild is concerned about whether the sanitation, sewage disposal systems, wastewater management and water supply connections are safe, satisfactory and capable of handling the increased demand.”
Mr. Kuhne also said the construction could have a negative impact on the ability of the guild to hold its outdoor activities and for people to have access to it. He also said the expansion would also decrease visibility of the guild sign, a primary way the non-profit advertises those same events.
“The guild does not want to stand in the way of the owners of the Terp property from undertaking construction that will increase the profitability of their property,” Mr. Kuhne said. “However the guild does not want to become a casualty in this process.”
Guild board member Paula Hepner said the addition of three more stores on the property would lead to increased traffic in the municipal lot and pointed to resident worries over traffic congestion and pedestrian safety having been highlighted as a top concern during the town’s master plan process.
“The traffic generated by the addition of the retail stores will only contribute to this problem,” Ms. Hepner said, urging the Planning Board to conduct a traffic study in relation to the project.