Top Stories 2017: Sports East receives final disappointment; owner decides to sell

For over two years, local developer Paul Pawlowski and partners Joe Slovak of Laurel and part-time New Suffolk resident Steve Marsh pursued a project: Sports East.

This year, that dream came to an end when the Southold Zoning Board of Appeals upheld a December 2016 ruling that the property was not zoned for membership-club use.

Sports East was to be a fitness club that was first proposed to the town in 2015 for a site on Route 25 in Mattituck. When the property was bought, the backers were confident they would not need to apply for a change of zone because the existing zoning allowed for “annual membership clubs” by special-use exception permit from the ZBA.

A ZBA public hearing in August brought a mixed crowd of supporters and opponents. Supporters urged the ZBA to allow Sports East because the community needs activities for young people during colder months, while neighbors of the property were worried about more traffic in the area.

In September, the ZBA upheld its notice of disapproval that the Mattituck property did not meet the definition of a membership club. Mr. Pawlowski addressed the ZBA after the decision was read, saying two years of his time had been “wasted” on “marching orders” during the application process.

The property at 9300 Main Road in Mattituck hit the market in October with an asking price of $1.65 million. Mr. Pawlowski said he isn’t interested in holding onto the land if he cannot pursue Sports East there, but added that he is interested in working with the town to find another location for the project.

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Photo: Paul Pawlowski at a Southold ZBA meeting on the Sports East proposal. (Credit: Rachel Siford)