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Planning Board may require ‘wildlife sweep’ as part of review of mixed-use development

At a meeting Nov. 7, the town Planning Board discussed the need for a wildlife sweep at the site of a proposed mixed-use building along Route 25 in Southold.

The review process is “getting to the end game,” staff said during the work session. But there should be sweeps for eastern box turtles and northern long-eared bats and, according to a staff report, and there should be conditions to preserve trees and vegetation. A wildlife sweep is a search of the site for a proposed development for important wildlife features to be avoided.

Hard Corner Partners LLC has proposed a twostory mixed use building with a rear parking area that would front Route 25 on the corner of Wells Avenue across from the Feather Hill complex. SEQRA has been completed and Suffolk County Department of Health Services approval is required. Comments from the state Department of Transportation have been mostly incorporated; planning staff noted the DOT recommended widening existing sidewalks but the town doesn’t usually ask applicants to reconstruct sidewalks that are already there.

The first floor would offer three retail units, including one that could allow for a restaurant or deli, and the second floor would include three affordable apartments. Further down Wells Avenue would be four single-family rental dwellings for ages 55 and older. Each of those would be 1,597 square feet, with individual wastewater treatment systems. The 2.28-acre vacant parcel is in the Hamlet Business zoning district.

The planning staff report outlined several other potential conditions to consider, including year-round leasing of the four rental units to ensure they would not be used as short-term or vacation rentals; banning left turn egress for commercial vehicles and deliveries; requiring additional exterior signage to receive Planning Board approval; and providing all parking on site, with no overflow onto Wells Avenue or Route 25.

Traffic safety has been raised as a concern in the past by the public and Planning Board members. Other public concerns, expressed at past public hearings and through letters and emails to the town, have included natural topography and water runoff, the loss of wildlife and degradation to community character.

A letter written on behalf of the applicant last summer emphasizes that only around two acres are being developed; the parcel is in the heart of the Hamlet Density/HALO area of the Southold hamlet, the uses match town desires expressed in hamlet studies and the comprehensive plan and the parcel is “complemented by a small number of small, single-family homes, all of which will have back yards where good trees and bunnies can thrive.”

The applicant still needs to submit a revised site plan incorporating comments from the town engineer’s office.