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ZBA upholds Sports East notice of disapproval

The Southold Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday upheld a notice of disapproval issued last December that the Sports East facility proposed for Mattituck did not meet the definition of a membership club. 

The use for such a facility is not permitted in the proposed site’s zoning, the board upheld.

The Sports East proposal included various sport amenities, including nine tennis courts, an exercise trail, golf practice areas and an outdoor swimming pool on a wooded lot on Route 25. 

The ZBA’s decision was “carefully considered from every possible angle” and the merits of the project were irrelevant, chairperson Leslie Kanes Weisman said before reading the decision. The purpose of the ruling was to interpret the code as it exists and not do a “de facto change of that code in our decision,” she said.

During a public hearing in August held at the request of Sports East attorney Charles Cuddy, developer Paul Pawlowski asked the board to reconsider, citing Laurel Links country club as a comparison for the sort of special permit the proposed sports club was trying to obtain.

See also: Supervisor express support for Sports East

But the ZBA determined the total square footage of all of Laurel Link’s accessory buildings “pales in comparison to the area used for golf” and that the club was established principally for the outdoor sport of golf. Sports East’s facility proposed an 82,500-square-foot single-story structure.

“It’s a bittersweet ruling,” board member Nicholas Planamento said. “It’s something that I think we hear a lot of people in the community with their opinions where it’s something that the community would like and it’s a very difficult decision for us to make in the location.”

Mr. Pawlowski addressed the ZBA after the decision was read, saying two years of his time was “wasted” on “marching orders” during the application process.

“Why was the use not talked about when I first applied for Sports East?” he asked, saying that use was not questioned by the ZBA at the application’s first public hearing.

“You sent me for two years to do SEQRA,” he said, referring to the environmental review. He then turned to town attorney Bill Duffy and said:  “You said do A, B, C, and D and this will meet the code and that’s on record with my attorney. You said, ‘Scott wants this, Leslie wants this, this will get approved.”

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Photo Caption: Paul Pawloski addressed the ZBA Thursday. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)