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Town adopts Main Road building moratorium

The Southold Town Board unanimously adopted a six-month moratorium on the issuance of approvals and permits for properties on Main Road in Mattituck between Bay Avenue and Pike Street.

The moratorium was proposed at a work session Feb. 12, during which Town Board members agreed that approving new projects would be counterproductive to both an ongoing traffic study and town comprehensive plan that is underway.

Nine speakers addressed the Town Board at a public hearing Tuesday, all in support of the moratorium. One letter was also submitted.

Anne Smith, former superintendent of Mattituck-Cutchogue School District, recently joined the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association to form a work group to monitor pending projects and development in the area.

“We welcome the opportunity to pause together and explore other opportunities for possible recreational community development grants that could usher in a sustainable and unique approach to achieve a vision for smart growth,” Ms. Smith said.

Officials said the moratorium, which may be extended after the initial six months, will help the board review new projects in the context of the results of the traffic study and final comprehensive plan, which the board is aiming to adopt in the coming months.

It would not affect residential permits or public institutions, officials said.

According to the legislation, the traffic study is analyzing three intersections in the area where Main Road intersects with side streets, but there are five other intersections where there are no pedestrian crosswalks or other traffic-calming measures. Officials want the traffic study to be expanded to address the additional intersections. 

In addition, the Planning Board has determined that there is a need for more public parking in the Love Lane area. Other infrastructure improvements and recommendations are expected to be included in the town comprehensive plan. 

Charles Gueli, president of the civic association, said that multiple studies from 2005 to the present have identified traffic as a problem in that corridor. He called for a “holistic solution” that considers other intersections that would be impacted by any changes to the traffic pattern along Main Road. 

“The town is being prudent by suspending development along this corridor long enough to obtain the results of the current traffic study and then determine the best way to mitigate the impact of increased traffic while ensuring pedestrian, bike riding and automobile safety,” Mr. Gueli said.

Abigail Wickham, who has a law office in the impact area, said properties that are already developed with commercial buildings should be exempt. “Six months, in the scheme of things, especially site plans, is not a very long time, but if extended could create undue hardship,” she said.

The moratorium would directly impact plans to construct a 20,000-square-foot Brinkmann’s hardware store at the corner of Main Road and New Suffolk Avenue in Mattituck, though the Town Board did not specifically refer to that application.

The Brinkmanns did not appear at the public hearing.

“People come here because we have what they don’t have,” said Mattituck resident Robert Harper, quoting Councilman Bob Ghosio. “When development goes out of control, we get things that maybe we don’t need.”

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