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Top Stories 2016: Sports East sent back to drawing board

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)