Introduction & Three Requests
“Mattituck’s strengths were generally identified as its open spaces and agricultural areas, cultural facilities, beaches and recreational areas … Another major strength is the Hamlet Center itself and the Love Lane business district, the sense of place created there, its walkability and shops … The primary weaknesses identified in Mattituck are the hodgepodge, unattractive, strip development along Route 25 west of the Hamlet Center [and] heavy, fast moving traffic …” Town of Southold Hamlet Study, July 2005
“The residents of Mattituck and the Town Board have growing concerns regarding the type of development and redevelopment which could occur in Mattituck as well as other concerns regarding growth, land use compatibility, traffic and aesthetics. In order to protect and enhance the area’s resources and ensure appropriate development and redevelopment activities in the future, the Town has authorized this focused study to formulate a vision for the corridor.” Town of Southold Mattituck Business Corridor Study, January 2011
“Future planning shall be compatible with existing community character while supporting and addressing the challenges of continued land preservation, maintaining a vibrant local economy, creating efficient transportation, promoting a diverse housing stock, expanding recreational opportunities and protecting natural resources.” From the “Vision Statement for Southold Town,” Comprehensive Plan Update (Draft) 2016
Since 2015, the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association (MLCA) has sponsored 11 public forums to revisit and reconsider the findings of the Town’s Mattituck Business Corridor Study and the Town’s Hamlet Study, and to contribute to the Southold Town Comprehensive Plan Update’s “Goals and Issues for Mattituck/Laurel.” Based on the community’s input during those meetings and this information researched by the civic’s Land Use Committee, the MLCA here makes three requests to the Town of Southold.
These three requests respond to pressure on this community from tourism, population growth, and development that is out-pacing municipal resources, taxing natural resources, and damaging quality of life. This pressure has been persistent for decades and will continue. This community cannot wait for the well-informed recommendations of 2005, 2011 and 2016-17 to be implemented. To wait for implementation of the Town’s ongoing Comprehensive Plan Update seems to watch, not manage, change.
Zoning in Southold Town was last overhauled in the late 1980s and early 90s with zone designations largely determined by then-existing uses. In the decades since, visits to and development of these hamlets (and the Town) have surged. Management of growth struggles to keep pace in part because of dated land use regulations, zoning code and Comprehensive Plan, and unimplemented recommendations from 2005 and 2011.
One example of the pressure is what the 2005 Hamlet Study calls the Love Lane Business District. On the north side of Main Road the picturesque, thriving, and pedestrian-friendly magnet of Love Lane is flanked by churches, professional offices and small businesses. On the other side of Main Road, on the south side of the highway’s curve between New Suffolk and Wickham avenues, are at least eight properties of assorted sizes, shapes and uses. If, for example, these eight properties (5.8 acres) are assembled and developed, the potential buildout could exceed 60,000 square feet of structures. For comparison, the CVS building on Main Road is about 15,000 square feet.
Between these two largely commercially zoned areas passes Main Road. Its fast-moving, heavy-volume traffic dominates where Main Road, Love Lane and Old Sound Avenue meet. The dysfunction here is detailed in MLCA’s 2016 Traffic Calming Project Report to Southold Town and extensive video. Our report was based on more than a year of public input and it calls for safety-first, pedestrian-friendly actions that protect the Love Lane/Old Sound Avenue neighborhood while calming and better managing through-traffic. MLCA is working with the Town and its traffic engineering contractor to bring public participation and sensible, affordable improvements to this intersection and two others nearby, Wickham and New Suffolk avenues.
Meanwhile, what can be expected to occur in our communities is development and redevelopment that increases traffic and environmental stress while diminishing quality of life. Pressure is most intense on Main Road between Factory and Reeve avenues, but can extend from Riverhead Town through Mattituck and into eastern Southold Town.
MLCA also asks the broad community to join the discussion of these and other strategic growth principles that contribute to the common good because they:
Preserve and protect the environment o Calm traffic patterns o Create walkable neighborhoods o Strengthen the local economy o Mix land uses
Create housing opportunities and choices o Foster distinctive, attractive neighborhoods.
In the balance of this report, MLCA outlines the three requests and provides supporting information about the common goods outlined above. Supporting information includes the Town’s Mattituck Hamlet
Study (2005), Mattituck Business Corridor Study (2011), input from the 11 MLCA public forums between January 2016 and June 2017, an MLCA community survey, the Southold Town Comprehensive Plan Update (Draft 2016), and other documents and primary sources (see Bibliography).
REQUEST 1: Work with the broad community now to plan active management of seasonal traffic issues in western Southold Town this year, including:
A. Main Road and Sound Avenue/North Road
B. Between the Southold-Riverhead town line to the west and Mill Lane/Mill Road to the east
C. Special emphasis on Main Road between Bay Avenue and Mill Lane, especially intersections of Main Road and New Suffolk and Wickham avenues.
REQUEST 2, PART 1: As recommended in the Mattituck Business Corridor Study, initiate the process for rezoning land parcels in Study Area III (as described on Page 56 below and shown in Figure 7-B on the next page).
The first aspect of this recommendation focuses on parcels mostly on the south side of Main Road between Bay and New Suffolk avenues. The intent is to better: 1) mirror the Residential Office (RO) zoning on the north side of Main Road; 2) provide a better transition away from traffic and commercial use to residential use as one moves away from Main Road; and, 3) encourage redevelopment as opposed to development, as the Business (B) and Hamlet Business (HB) zoning tend to do.
REQUEST 2, PART 2: In accordance with the Community Character and Land Use Chapters of the Town of Southold Comprehensive Plan Update, initiate the process for rezoning from Hamlet Business (HB) to Residential Office (RO) land parcels on Franklinville Road, Laurel.
The Comprehensive Plan Update treats Mattituck and Laurel as one community for statistical purposes, yet recognizes "they are two distinct places with regard to their character and scale." The Update further describes commercial development: "Laurel contains a small hamlet center located just off Route 25, comprised of just a few businesses. Another large group of businesses stretch along Route 25 from the train trestle east. Most of the HB zoning is in Mattituck in the Love Lane area, though Laurel has a small amount near Route 25 on Franklinville Road."
The Community Character Chapter contains as a goal improving the "viability, functioning and aesthetics without changing the scale of the hamlet centers". One of the objectives to achieve this goal is an evaluation of "uses within the HB and B zoning districts for appropriateness of intensity within each Hamlet Center and surrounding areas." This concern for scale is prominent within the Update. It is repeated in the Goals/ Issues for Mattituck/Laurel section: "Ensure future commercial development in the hamlet center is at a scale consistent with the hamlet's character.”
The Land Use Chapter also includes as a town-wide goal: "Ensure that the existing zoning is appropriately located and the uses are of the appropriate scale and intensity for the location, and are consistent with the other goals of this Comprehensive Plan.” One objective to achieve this goal is required analyses which includes, in part, an examination of “each permitted use in the hamlet centers for impacts, including traffic, parking, water use, noise and lighting."
A significant number of uses permitted within the HB zone would be entirely inappropriate for the Laurel business district. Uses permitted within the RO zone, however, are more nearly compatible with existing business development there, in part because they are less likely to increase traffic significantly. Traffic volume on Franklinville Road has increased dramatically since the Main Road realignment in the early 1980s.
REQUEST 3: Join stakeholders in an MLCA-hosted charrette to gather broad input on a) the center of Mattituck (5.8 acres in 8 parcels zoned HB on the south side of Main Road between New Suffolk and Wickham avenues; image below), and b) Mattituck-Laurel business districts, and address these questions:
How can the community best prepare for the next wave of growth and development pressure in our hamlets?
How do we arrive at a baseline towards achieving the best and highest use for all stakeholders2?
Would a stakeholders' plan that accommodates commercial, residential and/or recreational activity be beneficial and welcomed by the Town?
 Charrette – A series of public meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to map solutions.
Stakeholder(s) -- Any person with any interest in a project.