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Planning Board discusses Universalist Church in Southold

Representatives for First Universalist Church of Southold met with the Southold Planning Board Monday to discuss moving forward with a site plan to rebuild the church, which burned down in March 2015. 

The proposed site plan calls for the construction of a one-story, 6,816-square-foot place of worship with an existing parish house and single-family dwelling, which will remain. 

The popular “church on the bend” sat on 1.2 acres. A building team was assembled by the church’s board of directors shortly after the fire.

The next hurdle landscape architect Stacy Paetzel and architect Peter Marren must go through is obtaining a special exception from the Zoning Board of Appeals, since it’s a place of worship. The architects also must work with the Southold Town Landmarks Preservation Commission because the property is listed on the Town Register of Historic Landmarks. According to the register, the original church was built between 1835 and 1837.

“We approached this project with the understanding that the site was probably one of the critical elements,” Mr. Marren said. “We understand that this is the first building ever built in the historic district.”

“We’re looking at this as a design project, obviously to fulfill all the technical requirements, but we kind of viewed it as a civic project for the town,” he added.

The site plan calls for 34 total parking stalls but the code requires only 28. It has been classified as a Type I action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and may require additional information.

A public hearing on the project has been set for Monday, Oct. 15. 

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Photo caption: The conceptual site plan for the First Universalist Church.