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Neighbors urge Southold Town to look closely at Strong’s Marina expansion

Will a proposed expansion of Strong’s Marina negatively impact well water, quality of life and traffic in the surrounding Mattituck area?

Some neighbors think so and took to a Zoom meeting Monday night to urge the town Planning Board to consider these issues and more as part of an environmental review of the project.

“What will be the impact on the well water?” asked Eric Dorf, who lives on the east side of the creek across from the marina. “If it does impact [our water], it essentially renders our homes on North Drive uninhabitable,” he said, since the majority of the block uses well water.

Potential impacts to ground and surface waters, wetlands, wildlife, traffic and community character are expected to be addressed in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

The applicant, Strong’s Marine, is seeking to expand its Mattituck operation by adding two more boat storage buildings at 52,500 and 49,000 square feet, along with water supply, sewage disposal, site grading, drainage, lighting and landscaping improvements. A pool and patio will be removed, according to the site plan application.

Development is proposed on their 32-acre property on the west side of Mattituck Creek, which is currently zoned Marine II.

The applicants have said the new buildings are needed in order to provide indoor, heated winter storage for yachts that are typically transported to warmer climates in the winter due to a lack of available local storage.

Based on an average size of 60 feet, as many as 88 yachts could be stored in the proposed buildings, arriving via the Mattituck inlet. Owner Jeff Strong has also said the expansion could add 15 careers to the current full time-staff of 13.

A portion of the site is located within a 100-year floodplain and the 13-month construction period would include excavating 134,000 cubic yards of soil and sand and 493 trees.

In August, the Southold Town Planning Board issued what’s known as a positive declaration which requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.

The document, which is being prepared by an outside consultant paid for by the applicant, must address all potential adverse impacts, possible mitigation measures and reasonable alternatives to be considered.

A draft report prepared by P.W. Grosser Consulting in Bohemia indicates that water quality, flooding, air quality, impacts to native plants and animals, community character, traffic, noise and light will be evaluated.

Multiple neighbors who spoke during Monday’s hearing brought up ongoing traffic issues on Mill Road.

“There are families with children who walk, bicycle, push strollers and walk their dogs on this road throughout the day,” said Anne Pundyk of Mattituck. “It’s a dangerous situation which has not been addressed,” she continued, noting that neighbors have been vocal about the lack of enforcement of the speed limit.

Further, Ms. Pundyk and several others said they’re concerned about the overall size of the project. “This is a commercial project that’s going to be set in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” she said, which in turn may negatively impact property values.

Louise Harrison of Peconic said she was dismayed when she learned about the amount of excavation and tree removal the project entailed and urged the board to consider the impacts of losing native forest resources. “If you need to remove hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sand, then you have the wrong site,” Ms. Harrison said.

The draft scoping document specifically states that both traffic and ecological impacts will be studied. Traffic conditions will be studied via site visits and reviewing data from the state Department of Transportation, county Department of Public Works and town’s highway department, while a qualified biologist will conduct site inspections to inventory flora and fauna, as well as potential threats to fragile native plant and animal species.

Other neighbors urged the Planning Board to weigh additional impacts beyond what’s being included so far.

Stephen Boscola said his pool is located approximately 100 feet from where excavation may take place and hopes the board will include an assessment of potential vibration damage to nearby homes as part of the study.

“We’re concerned that it could collapse our pool and cause damage to the foundation of our home,” he said.

Mr. Boscola also called attention to land clearing he says has already taken place at the property, a step that typically isn’t allowed during the SEQRA process.

By law, Environmental Impact Statements must also include “reasonable alternatives” to be considered. According to the draft report, the only two alternatives listed are taking no action at all or an alternate plan that would use a barge rather than trucks to remove materials.

Speaking on behalf of Jim Neumann, Mattituck attorney Eric Bressler said those two alternatives are insufficient.

“It’s evident from even a cursory review of the project that there are other alternatives that should and must be considered,” Mr. Bressler said. For example, he said the plans could be altered to show smaller buildings or perhaps one building rather than two. 

He said the lack of alternatives included in the scoping document is a “fatal flaw” that should be amended to include “all reasonable and relevant alternatives.”

The Planning Board opted to keep the scoping hearing open for written comment through Dec. 7 and the draft environmental impact statement is expected to be discussed again at a Planning Board work session on Nov. 16.