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Town considers moratorium on Main Road development

Southold Town officials are considering a six-month moratorium on new construction along Main Road in Mattituck as they await the results of a traffic study and continue to work on the town’s comprehensive plan.

Town Supervisor Scott Russell said the traffic study currently underway includes areas between New Suffolk Road and Wickham Avenue, but excludes eight roads that will be impacted by any changes to the Love Lane intersection. 

“The town believes that study might be a little too narrow in scope,” Mr. Russell said during a Town Board work session Tuesday. 

He said that, while the comprehensive plan focuses on pedestrian-friendly downtown areas, it will not address larger concerns of land use and traffic impact in the downtown area. “We have to look at land use as one of the functions of traffic impacts,” he said.

The measure would put a moratorium on any construction or processing of any new applications for projects between Bay Avenue and Pike Street along the Main Road corridor, the supervisor said. The moratorium would not affect projects already under construction, the supervisor said.

It would exclude the needs of public institutions — such as the fire department, school or library — and a provision in the proposed legislation could allow permits to move forward under “unique” circumstances, the supervisor said. “Particularly if those uses are consistent with the existing uses,” he explained.

The board agreed that the larger area should be studied, since any changes to the traffic pattern near Love Lane will impact other businesses in the area.

“We need to include that section of the corridor in the study,” Councilwoman Jill Doherty said, noting that traffic is already a concern for existing businesses there. 

Mr. Russell said the moratorium would give officials time to evaluate land use components and their downtown vision with both the comprehensive plan and traffic studies that are underway, as well as in the context of other studies that have been completed over the years.

“We should look at it either as an expansion of scope of the existing study or a supplemental study that would be a little bit more encompassing,” the supervisor said, while also considering efforts to promote a vibrant downtown.

“We can’t do it properly without taking a step back,” he said.

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

The Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association has led the fight against the proposed hardware store, and would favor a park at that location, according to civic president Charles Gueli. “It sounds like a good idea,” he wrote in an email Tuesday. “The MLCA welcomes anything that might discourage the owners and make them willing to sell the property to the county, who will preserve the green space,” he continued, adding that the group is not opposed to “smart, managed development,” in the area.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26.