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Neighboring property in Mattituck could be better fit for town, Brinkmanns say

The Brinkmanns, in an effort to sway Southold Town from acquiring their 1.8-acre Mattituck parcel through a settlement or seizing it by way of eminent domain, have drawn up renderings for a neighboring property they think would be a better fit for the town.

To help the town find alternate locations for their intended village green and traffic calming measures, the Brinkmanns met with neighboring property owner Tom McCarthy, who owns an identically zoned 2.4-acre Main Road parcel next door to theirs. Mr. McCarthy, they said, told them he has no current development plans for the land and is willing to sell to the town for the right price. His parcel is larger than the Brinkmann parcel, which could allow for greater development, including municipal parking spaces and potential green space, both prospects the town and local civic groups have been eyeing for some time. It would also provide a natural buffer between the area’s commercial business district and the residential district behind it, they explained, arguing that costs might also be less.

Mr. McCarthy confirmed by phone last Wednesday that he and the Brinkmanns had discussed the prospect of a sale, but said he has other suggestions for how the town could approach his parcel, if board members were interested in a purchase.

“The park is a reactive answer to a development proposal, not a proactive approach,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I think that the town should take a broader look at the entire block, from Reeve Avenue to New Suffolk Avenue and Route 25, and create a cross-access, which I [had] brought to the town’s attention many years ago.

“I believe that there could and should be a long-term cross-access plan developed that would go from the church to the library and across all of the parcels,” he continued. “The parcels are basically one parcel deep on New Suffolk Avenue and one parcel deep on Route 25 and [the town can] create a connector road or an alley that goes in between those parcels that alleviates stress on all of the roadways and actually enhances the downtown area.”

A truck with a “Say no to eminent domain” sign at the Mattituck property. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)

Mr. McCarthy said he thinks the eminent domain action initiated by the town “sets a dangerous precedent and I think it could quite possibly devalue other commercial properties because you’re not going to know if the town is going to want to come along and take it away from you or if the civic groups get together and feel empowered by this particular action, what will the next one be?”

The Brinkmanns hired architect Ray Nemschick of Nemschick Silverman Architects, P.C. to draw up elevated renderings and a site plan. They obtained surveys and dimensional plans from Mr. McCarthy, whose permission they obtained before going forward with the drawings.

“[The McCarthy property is] not in the building moratorium because it’s not on Main Road,” said Hank Brinkmann. “What would they do if somebody bought that? Would they seize that property as well?”

Mr. Brinkmann said that if the town really wants a park on that corner, as board members have been insisting, they should speak to an owner who is willing to sell.

A rendering of the property where the hardware store is proposed and what could be a park next door.

“Rather than seizing a piece of private property from a family via eminent domain to halt our development, they could buy this piece,” he said, adding that efforts to schedule a meeting with Supervisor Scott Russell have been unsuccessful. The Brinkmanns emphasized that they never called the town clerk or supervisor directly for a meeting, but attempted to reach him through people who know him.

Mr. McCarthy said he will be putting his 2.4-acre parcel on the market for $1.44 million.

He said that his property, which he sees as a key piece of downtown Mattituck, it could certainly serve as a village green, but could also serve to “alleviate the traffic and parking concerns for every other parcel that backs up to it.” He said that if the town were to purchase it it would be good spot for on-site affordable housing and/or apartment units.

“[This] would be in one of the top walk score locations,” he said.

The Brinkmanns and the town are still working through ongoing litigation regarding the building moratorium that has been in effect in the Mattituck area. Last week, The Suffolk Times broke news of the family’s once-on, now-off settlement negotiations.

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