Guest Spot: Proposed hotel in Southold doesn’t fit hamlet’s character

The peaceful hamlet of Southold is about to be “South Forked.”

The Enclaves development, a 61,000-square-foot hotel (with four detached cottages, a 74-seat restaurant, large parking area, pool and outdoor event space) is before the Zoning Board of Appeals requesting a special exception permit. It will be located directly across from 7-Eleven on the Main Road at the former Hedges bed-and-breakfast.

It will be the largest recently built hotel in the area with its 44 rooms — Greenport’s Harborfront Inn has 35 rooms, Menhaden 16 and American Beech 11. The mere scale of this project is completely out of character for this historic part of Southold. Special events will take place every summer weekend, attracting estimates of 250 people, with the attendant loud music, stretch limos and traffic jams. The parking lot alone is larger than the one at the firehouse, to accommodate its probable 100 guests, service people, 16-person shuttle vans and delivery trucks. Their own study estimates 46 vehicle trips out their driveway per hour in the summer. Imagine a car turning onto Main Road almost every minute, and running smack dab into the flow of cars in and out of 7-Eleven. Southold will experience gridlock and worse.

Environmentally, damage will be done. For irrigation alone, they will be drawing 2.5 million gallons of water annually from the already-fragile Southold aquifer. Those 44 toilets and showers will draw an additional 8,800 gallons a day. All this water will be pumped into their treatment facility, where not all the nitrogen can be removed. Nitrogen, pharmaceuticals, certain microbes and bacteria will be leached into our groundwater and make their way into the bay. Their study states that 278 extra pounds of nitrogen per year will be leached into our water table. Dead scallops, anyone?

The design of the hotel resembles something more in line with Miami Beach than an old New England village. It does not harmonize with the rest of the town — no cedar shingles, pitched roofs or rocking chair porches. Its flat-roofed two-story, motel-style building boasts a rooftop terrace for parties, thereby making it technically three stories. The rendering shows a series of large curtained beds around the pool — think Sandals Resort — and nothing to attract families with children. There is not a swingset to be seen. It is designed to attract party people.

Finally, and most importantly, is our desire to preserve the character and integrity of our beautiful and historic town. The neighborhood adjacent to this proposed large commercial development is where our founders first landed in Southold and has some of the oldest houses in town. Its quiet lanes and small scale are what make it desirable for the teachers, cops and retirees who call it home. This project has the look and feel of the South Fork — more disco than old Southold. If built as proposed, it will forever change the character of our hamlet, without any discernible benefits for us residents.

Thoughtful development that will maintain and enhance our community, its sense of place, and protect its increasingly fragile waters is what is needed now. We are at a turning point and it’s up to us citizens to take back our town and ensure its future for our children and grandchildren. As the song goes: “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” … with 123 spaces.

If you’d like to show your support, please sign our petition here.

This column is by Carol Owens, Lauren Barry, Nan Baylis, Nancy Butkus, Lucille Jones and Sharon McHugh. They are members of the Founders Landing Neighborhood Group, which is made up of neighbors on Town Harbor Lane and the adjacent area.