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Town code change is a win for North Fork Cheer

The Southold Town Board adopted a resolution Tuesday night to tweak a town code that will allow North Fork Cheer to find a more suitable indoor recreation facility to accommodate its growing numbers.

“As a program, for us, this just means the ability to give the kids every opportunity that every other gym on the island has,” said Stephanie Piraino, a co-owner of North Fork Cheer. “They’ll have the opportunity to get better skills, have a better facility, have a full matted surface.”

The resolution adds a minor definition to the code that clarifies the terms of recreation facilities, adding “soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, cheerleading, swimming and other sport activities instruction or education” to the mix. The change related specifically to recreational uses in the Light Industrial Park/Planned Office Park and Light Industrial Districts.

The team has been practicing for four years at the NOFO Wellness Center in Cutchogue, but has since outgrown the space. The group would like to use an existing vacant building located in an industrially zoned area in Cutchogue. The business had been classified as professional, which was not a permitted use.

Ms. Piraino and Lauren Berry, a co-owner of the business, spoke at a town board meeting last month. The coaches said at the time they had to reduce by half the size of the standard competition mat — which is 42 feet by 42 feet — to fit inside the practice space. Athletes were not capable of practicing full routines with all their tumbling passes.

Ms. Piraino had said that there were no spaces that could safely accommodate the group’s needs. The addition of a minor recreation facility definition that includes cheerleading gives the team “a new beginning” and gives the owners the ability to sustain their business in Southold, they said.

“We’ve had kids that started with us when they were 4, 5 years old and now to see how much they’ve grown and to see them outgrow the space that we’re in, but still come into practice everyday positive and excited and just working with what they have and to watch them show that on the mat on competition day, it always brings tears to our eyes,” Ms. Berry said.

This year, they’ve earned 12 first-place titles and three national titles in competitions spanning the East Coast, the coaches said.

Ms. Piraino said she had expected the resolution to be held open by the Town Board pending two weeks of written comment. Instead, because there were no voices of opposition during Tuesday’s public hearing, the Town Board decided to adopt the resolution.

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