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Top Stories 2016: Sports East sent back to drawing board

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12/29/2016 6:00 AM |

Sports East in Mattituck

Almost exactly one year ago, when three local businessmen first proposed building Sports East in Mattituck, they felt confident they could do so without applying for a change of zone on the Main Road property. After all, the property’s zoning allows “annual membership clubs” by special-use exception permit from the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals.

After two previous proposals for the property encountered opposition from town officials and the community, the indoor-outdoor athletic facility was something the site’s owner, Paul Pawlowski, described as sorely needed — and he was cautiously optimistic it could be built. The project received overwhelming public support, with only a handful of detractors speaking at multiple public hearings.

Whatever hope still existed after a year-long process that featured several bumps in the road was crushed Dec. 8 when the ZBA ruled that Sports East’s application didn’t meet the requirements for a membership club.

Nevertheless, the ZBA said the developers still had options, including submitting an amended application more in line with the definition of a club membership or filing a change of zone request.

A revised site plan application for Sports East was then filed Dec. 15 featuring a downsized indoor athletic facility and additional outdoor spaces in order to become more in line with the ZBA’s requirements.

Mr. Pawlowski said walking trails were added as a way to meet the town’s outdoor use requirement while still leaving much of the land preserve.

File photo: A public hearing sign posted on Main Road in Mattituck where Sports East is proposed. (Credit: Krysten Massa)