Southold Town residents will have a chance to weigh in on the contentious proposal for a $43.9 million luxury hotel project known as the Enclaves.
The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency will host a public hearing regarding the Enclaves — and the $2.7 million tax-break incentive package it intends to grant the developers — at Southold Town Hall on Monday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m.
Developer Jonathan Tibbett’s proposal for the project, located on 6.75 acres at the former Hedges bed and breakfast on Main Road Southold, calls for construction of a 72,979-square-foot, two-story hotel with 40 units, four detached cottages, an accessory event space, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a spa. Plans for the parcel also call for conversion of the historic inn, which Tibbett purchased in 2015, into a 74-seat restaurant, one of two the hotel will feature. Approximately $2 million of the project’s budget will go to an on-site sewer treatment plant.
In September, the IDA, which provides financial incentives to promote economic development within Suffolk County, tentatively approved a $2.7 million tax relief package for The Enclaves, which includes $1.8 million in reductions on sales tax for building materials and equipment, $246,000 in reduced mortgage tax payments and $700,000 in savings courtesy of a 15-year schedule of payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, program.
The Southold Town Board discussed the forthcoming IDA meeting during its work session Tuesday morning. Town Supervisor Scott Russell told board members that he and Suffolk County Legislator and Southold Town Supervisor-elect Al Krupski expressed concerns to IDA representatives that the agency was not operating with transparency and did not take steps to include Southold residents and tax-receiving entities such as schools and hospitals who will be most impacted by the project.
“I don’t even know that the IDA really considered the community as an interested party,” Mr. Krupski said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “They didn’t reach out to the town, which I thought was a real shortfall. They’re trying to shift the tax to everyone else, so the town should be the first stop.
“When you build it, it’s going to increase demand on services, whether it’s the schools or police or fire [departments],” he added. “There’s all the other stresses it will put on the environment, but the demand for services that are taxpayer-funded are going to be increased. If [the developers] are going to pay their fair share of taxes that’s one thing, but what the IDA is looking to do is basically shift that tax burden to everyone else in the community so [the developers] don’t have to pay their fair share.”
The IDA is required to hold a public hearing in the affected municipality in which it will extend benefits to project developers and must announce the meeting 10 days in advance.
According to Kelly Murphy, the acting executive director of the IDA, Mr. Tibbett and his counsel will attend Monday’s meeting.
“The whole purpose of the hearing is to gather information to present to the [IDA] board,” Ms. Murphy explained. “It’s generally intended as a listening session. I’ll present all of the salient points, present the information. I’ll make sure everybody knows where to find the application itself and all of the reports, it’s all available on our website.”
During the meeting, speakers will be given three minutes to share their thoughts. The public may also submit opinions on the project during the written comment period, which will remain open through Jan. 16.
On Friday the town released a notice of the public hearing as well as the following message: “The [IDA] is authorized by New York State Municipal Law to extend financial assistance in the form of potential exemptions from New York State sales tax, property tax and several other costs. Such expenses can have substantial financial impacts on Southold Town and Supervisor Russell urges you to participate.”
Mr. Krupski will also be among what will likely be a sizable crowd at Town Hall Monday.
“I just hope people do the research on what was submitted to the IDA in the application and then come to the public hearing,” he said. “I can only encourage people to come on Dec. 11 to give their opinion. I’ll be there to listen to what people have to say.”