The Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals has granted a conditional approval for the Enclaves Hotel and Restaurant in Southold.
The proposed 44-room hotel and 74-seat restaurant on Main Road in Southold has been met with significant community pushback for years, culminating in a lengthy public hearing with a packed Town Hall in October. The application had been up for a special exception use permit and is variance free.
The approval comes with conditions, the ZBA said. No outdoor events of any size will be permitted at the venue. No special events as defined by town code or large events over 100 guests will be permitted either. Small indoor events accessory to principal use, under 100 guests, will be allowed. Expansions will not be allowed and hotel amenities are for hotel guests only.
ZBA member Patricia Acampora cast the lone vote in opposition to the proposal.
“This was a long and arduous problem for me,” the former New York State Assemblywoman said. “Throughout my career in public service, I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I listened to the people that I represented. And my decisions were always based on what I felt that people wanted, through the feedback that they gave me and that led me to draw my conclusions and vote, or move, on what was necessary.”
ZBA chair Leslie Kanes Weisman acknowledged the community concerns raised about the project, including concerns about noise, traffic generation and community character.
“Just to remind us all, we accepted the FEIS statement and issued a finding statement in which we determined that the applicant has mitigated moderate to large potential impacts for the proposed hotel use,” Ms. Weisman said. “Nevertheless, the public’s concern was important to us.”
A board may rely on the detailed personal knowledge of residents, she said, pointing to past case laws.
“Although the residents’ letters and oral testimony at hearings expressing concerns for safety and quality of life were grounded in personal experiences and not empirical data, as the attorney pointed out, the Board believes that they still have some merit.”
Based on ZBA members’ own personal knowledge and specific testimony of residents near the Enclaves property, the ZBA found that traffic studies relied on in the FEIS do not adequately account for the drastic change in traffic patterns in the area since the last traffic study was completed — hence the conditions increasing capacity limitations on events at the hotel.
The proposed screening and the distance the hotel is set back from the street will mitigate potential impacts on community character, the ZBA said. The park district has not expressed concerns about the proposed hotel use and said any issues would be addressed through its bylaws, the board added. The applicant has agreed to abide by any decisions made by the district.
Addressing concerns from the public about the project’s financial viability, Ms. Weisman pointed to an Oct. 29 letter addressed to the ZBA from Andrew Giambertone, an architect and partner on the project.
“We embarked upon this project only after having done several feasibility studies, all of which indicated that this project is financially sound. Even with a 50% occupancy rate we can sustain the viability of this development project,” he said in the letter.
A copy of the written decision was not immediately available Thursday morning.