Residents weigh in on apartments, offices proposed in Greenport at public hearing

Southold Town Planning Board on Monday night closed a public hearing on the proposed development of medical offices and affordable housing units in Greenport, leaving time for written comment until March 1.

The original site plan, proposed by developer Paul Pawlowski on a 4.7-acre parcel at the junction of County Road 48 and State Route 25 was comprised of four campus-style buildings with 12 offices, 40 affordable housing units and 120 parking spaces. The New York State Department of Transportation has proposed a roundabout for the intersection as well.

Also before the Planning Board was a mitigation plan, submitted on Nov. 1, which removed a building from the site plan, lowering the number of proposed medical offices from 12 to nine as well as a reduction in apartments from 40 to 30. The mitigation plan also includes an increase in the proposed landscape buffer zone, a reduction in the size of the parking lot and relocation and reduction and length of a proposed western driveway.

Developer Paul Pawlowski speaks at Monday’s Planning Board meeting. (Credit: Nicholas Grasso)

Since a Nov. 21 work session, the Planning Board has been considering a conditioned negative declaration, which is a State Environmental Quality Review determination, meant to mitigate impacts through a specific set of conditions instead of going through an arduous Environmental Impact Statement process.

Planning Board chairman Donald Wilcenski outlined the board’s decision options prior to starting the public hearing.

“The board has the following options regarding SEQRA after this hearing. We can adopt the conditioned negative declaration as it is, we can revise the conditioned negative declaration based on your comments, identifying where more mitigation is needed which would result in additional conditions that we would impose. The last or the third option would be to make the determination that there is still the potential for moderate to large impacts and issue a positive declaration instead of a conditioned negative declaration,” he said. 

At the public hearing, which lasted almost three hours, 17 people addressed the board, with only three speaking in favor of the proposal. Some of the concerns raised included traffic, noise and community character. 

Many who addressed the board requested a new traffic impact study and called into question the accuracy of the Oct. 26 traffic impact study prepared by the developer’s consultant, L.K. McLean Associates P.C., claiming it relies heavily on a report by the Department of Transportation as opposed to their own data and that the data gathering wasn’t done during peak hours of traffic.

Group for the East End environmental associate Marina DeLuca, spoke on behalf of the organization and as an individual, against the project. She asked the board to look at the context of the zoning where the project would be built — which is residential office district — and review if the project complies with the zoning.

“The way in which this board chooses to utilize SEQRA is going to set a precedent for how other projects are handled down the line,” she said. Ms. DeLuca listed the permitted uses under that zoning which included single-family dwelling, meeting halls, bed and breakfasts, professional offices, home offices, galleries and more. “We believe that the scale, density and character of this project wildly exceed the intent of the zoning,” she said.

Other concerns raised by those in attendance included if the office spaces on the first floor could be filled, the size of the apartments, if the apartments were “family friendly,” and how affordable the apartments would be. Another concern was if the apartments would be affordable in perpetuity, which Mr. Pawlowski said they would be.

Of the 30 apartments proposed, 15 would be 500 square feet, 10 would be between 400 and 500 square feet and five studios would range from 351 to 450 square feet.

Patricia Lutzky, chairperson of the Southold Town Housing Advisory Commission, spoke in support of the project and said the organization considers the proposal to be worthy of approval.

“[Mr. Pawlowski’s] commitment to workforce and affordable housing should not be called into question. We are convinced that this is a developer who really cares about workforce housing, he cares about this community,” she said.

The site of the proposed development in Greenport, pictured in March 2021. (Credit: Steve Wick/file)

Charles Sanders also spoke in favor of the project and said Mr. Pawlowski has done a very good job of mitigating a lot of the concerns raised and that “he has every right to have this project.” 

“To be honest, I don’t think a lot of the concerns that came before the board really merit shutting this down,” he said.

Mr. Pawlowski spoke near the end of the meeting and tried to address the concerns raised by residents. He also recognized everyone has the right to be concerned about any proposed development and that if the proposed state roundabout for the intersection doesn’t happen, he would not proceed with the project as submitted.

“We will go back to the drawing board and mitigate whatever we need to if that roundabout doesn’t happen,” Mr. Pawlowski said.

But he said “they’re close … ” referring to the DOT, as the budget for the roundabout has been approved. He said the construction of the state roundabout and construction of the proposed project, should it be approved, would coincide.

Mr. Pawlowski said they probably have the rest of this year in approvals, then around eight months to build, should the project be approved.

“We’re doing everything we can to make this property work for the comprehensive plan, work for the Planning Board, work for the need [for affordable housing and medical office space],” he said.