Year in Review 2023

Year in Review 2023: Fervor over Strong’s Marine expansion plans

The long-running, family-owned business has proposed building two heated, indoor yacht storage facilities — 52,00 square feet and 49,000 square feet — to be built at Strong’s Yacht Center on Mill Road in Mattituck. The new buildings, according to the proposal, would house up to 88 yachts of 60 to 80 feet in length. The property currently has two storage buildings, neither of which can accommodate boats of that size.

In May, an overflow crowd packed the town Planning Board’s public hearing on the proposal.

Save Mattituck Inlet, a group formed in 2020 to oppose the project, parked a massive tractor trailer on Main Road directly across from Town Hall and covered it with signs that read “9,000 trips” and “Every Seven Minutes,” referring to the proposed debris hauling plan.

Speakers from various environmental groups also voiced fears that altering the natural environment would harm numerous native species, from box turtles to bats.

Several project supporters, including Cutchogue resident Terri Boyle Romanelli and developer Paul Pawlowski, spoke about positive economic impacts that could result from the new storage facilities, including 11 new year-round jobs and the preservation of a working waterfront.

Despite deeply held opinions, the atmosphere remained cordial in the deeply polarized room.

Jeff Strong himself said he and his family have not faced any incivility from Save Mattituck Inlet members or any of his neighbors in the five years since they first introduced the proposal. He said he typically encounters residents who either already support the venture or are looking to open a dialogue and understand his motives, which he said are simply to meet a market demand and ensure the property remains a viable commercial marine facility for future generations.

Mr. Strong also said he remains open to meeting with “anybody, regardless of their viewpoints, no matter how ardent they are against the project. We will meet with anybody in person in a reasonable, respectful way and share viewpoints.”

While many — perhaps even all — major development projects in Southold Town encounter some resistance, few proposals have garnered the same level of attention or stirred as much passionate debate as this one.

The planning department has hired consultants to complete a final environmental impact statement for the project — in which they will have to address the more than 1,000 written comments that have been submitted by concerned residents.