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Proposed Greenport housing, medical office proposal requires further review, Planning Board says

On Monday, the Southold Town Planning Board classified the proposed development of medical offices and affordable housing units in Greenport as an unlisted action under SEQRA.

Unlisted actions require review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. The developer requested time to propose mitigation for potential impacts identified by the planning department. 

In March, the Planning Board deemed a site plan complete for the project, which, as proposed, would include four campus-style buildings with 12 offices, 40 affordable housing units and 120 parking spaces on a 4.7-acre parcel at the confluence of County Route 48 and State Route 25, which includes Main Street, in Greenport. A state roundabout is proposed for the intersection. 

The inclusion of workforce housing requires the project to obtain a special exception use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals before it can move forward. The parcel is zoned Residential Office, which permits professional offices as of right and apartments above offices by ZBA approval. 

The ZBA recently held a public hearing on that permit, and has held it open indefinitely. Locals and environmental groups expressed concerns about potential impacts at the hearing and via letters to the town, urging the town to require a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

A draft impact assessment of the project, conducted by the town planning department and presented on Monday night, validated some concerns that emerged from the ZBA hearing, noting that some facets of the project may result in moderate to large impacts. 

The proposal, according to the draft assessment, may negatively impact aesthetic resources, with large buildings planned that will be visible from scenic byways. The project would include “minor levels of disturbance through clearing and grading” and about 3.95 acres of forested land will likely be removed to develop 2.14 acres. A concrete foundation remains on the parcel from past development attempts. The land is neighbored by residential properties, with a large commercial parcel to the north across Route 25. 

Although impacts to archaeological resources are expected to be low, a small area of the parcel was identified as potentially archaeologically sensitive in the New York State Historic Preservation Office Cultural Resource Inventory System and the applicant was advised to contact the state Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The proposed project will also generate an estimated 1,075 daily weekday trips, potentially causing “moderate to large adverse impacts on the transportation system” through high traffic volumes. Other traffic concerns noted by the planning department include the level of service for the Route 25 intersection; accident reports; interaction with the future traffic circle; the vehicle gap analysis as it relates to seasonal traffic volumes and patterns; and the number of vehicles connected with maximum occupancy on the site.

A moderate to large adverse impact from noise may be possible during both construction and operation phases of the project, according to the staff report, and community character may also be impacted. 

A Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan will be prepared and stormwater will be controlled and disposed of on-site, according to the draft assessment. The proposed action will have a low impact on groundwater quality and a public sewer connection is available. Newly constructed units would connect to the sewers and prevent the discharge of wastewater to a sole source aquifer that’s located under the parcel. 

There are no wetlands on or immediately adjacent to the parcel, although a state-designated “freshwater wetland to the west of the parcel and across NYS Route 25 is expected to contribute to the wildlife use of the parcel as an adjacent habitat,” the draft said. “The wetland will not be directly impacted by the proposal as there is no hydrologic connectivity to the system.”

The planning department questioned a disparity between the project’s estimated water use, at 1,000 gallons per day from the Suffolk County Water Authority, and the amount of sanitary waste, predicted, at 7,384 gallons per day. “Clarification on water usage will be required,” the assessment said. 

The proposed project is also expected to have low impacts on flooding and energy, and no adverse impacts to air quality are expected. Lighting on site will meet dark sky standards. The Southold Police Department has indicated via letter that it has sufficient public safety coverage for the proposal.