The current owner of the former Old Mill restaurant is seeking variances to expand and renovate the 200-year-old Mattituck building, arguing that proposed changes are vital for its preservation.
The property is now owned by an LLC formed by Anthony Martignetti, a prominent restaurateur in New York City, where he and his brother Tom co-own a number of eateries downtown and on the East Side.
According to a notice of disapproval from the town’s building department, the proposed plan significantly oversteps yard setback and maximum lot coverage requirements at the site — a former grist mill built in 1821 that up until recently had been operating as a restaurant.
Regulations require the property to have yard setbacks of at least 35 feet in front and 25 feet at the rear and sides. The proposed plan indicated a front yard setback of 10 inches, a side yard setback of zero feet and a rear yard setback of eight inches. In addition, the proposed restaurant building would cover 69.1% of the property, more than twice the 30% maximum permitted lot coverage. According to the applicant’s project description, however, the proposed changes would reduce current building coverage.
“The Applicant is essentially asking this Board to bless the existing footprint of the Old Mill,” a document outlining reasons for the appeal stated. “While the setback relief sought may be mathematically substantial, it is not practically substantial since it will only allow what has been on the site for 200 years to remain. As for lot coverage, the proposed improvements will actually result in a decrease from the existing 73.7% lot coverage to 69.1%.”
Representatives for the owner argued that “in order to preserve this venerable local treasure,” the two-story portion of the existing building should be elevated 4.5 feet to achieve FEMA compliance, and the existing steel and timber substructure should be reinforced and replaced. The proposal also calls for replacing the existing one-story portion of the building with a porch and decking.
“A small area of existing improvements lie within the adjacent 1,365 SF easement area which is available to the Applicant in conjunction with its use and occupancy of the premises,” the appeal states, later adding, “This parcel is perhaps the most constrained parcel in the Town of Southold. There is no conceivable way to restore the Old Mill without the requested variance relief.”
The appeal further argues that renovations to the Old Mill, which is somewhat isolated from nearby residential structures, would “have a positive impact on the physical conditions in the surrounding community” and “strengthen the character of the neighborhood for decades to come.” The restaurant use would not change, according to the documents.
Mr. Martignetti’s company, North Fork Project LLC, purchased the parcel for $620,000 in April 2019, real estate records show. He could not be reached for comment this week.
The grist mill operated at the site from 1821 to around 1910, when it became a tavern. It was later expanded to add a restaurant dining room. The building also includes living space.