An Open Letter on Cutchogue Woods
June 19, 2022
To: Southold Supervisor Scott Russell and Members of the Town Board, Chairman Donald Wilcenski and Members of the Planning Board
Dear Supervisor Russell and Members of the Town Board,
We write in support of the Cutchogue Woods Affordable Housing plan. For many of us in Southold, affordable housing is a priority. Our own Comprehensive Plan calls the lack of affordable housing a crisis.
Our letter addresses two concerns. 1) Affordable housing vs. big out-of-scale housing, and 2) Environmental/water conservation commitments in the plan.
1) Affordable Housing.
What is a priority? It is defined as a preferential rating, something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives; synonym: precedence.
To us this means affordable housing has preferential rating, takes precedence over other types of housing that could be built on a property.
From our understanding, Cutchogue Woods would build 24 units in 3 buildings on a 5.66-acre vacant wooded property (15690 Middle Road, Cutchogue) that could otherwise have 2 or 3 huge houses built on it (with the accompanying swimming pools and landscaping, a trend running rampant after Covid in Southold).
Why are not 24 affordable housing units being looked upon as preferential, considering our ever-growing list, now 400, of Southolders wanting/needing it? Let’s give affordable housing proposals precedence.
2) Environmental and Water Conservation
Cutchogue Woods is committed to the conservation of 2.1 acres, over 37 percent of the site, remaining natural and wooded, preserving existing trees, and a 60 foot wooded buffer from Middle Road.
The Cutchogue Woods plan includes a stormwater management system to collect and recharge water to the aquifer, rain gardens, permeable driveways, water-conserving fixtures and leak detection, and a sanitary system protecting our groundwater. No pumping or use of groundwater will occur.
Would this land sold to build 2 or 3 large (mega) houses have a covenant for woodland conservation or a 60 foot buffer? Would those builders have rain gardens or permeable driveways protecting our common groundwater? Unlikely.
All the new building going on around us that we see, complete with pools and landscaping (50 percent of our public water is going to pools and irrigation) has none of those conservation features — features that keep our rural Southold character and protect our aquifer. The logic to us is to vote yes to letting the Cutchogue Woods affordable housing plan proceed with its next review.
We desperately need affordable housing in Southold.
Mary and Tom Morgan
Editor’s Note: The Southold Town Board will hold a public hearing at its 4:30 p.m. meeting June 21 on changing the zoning of the Cutchogue Woods property from an agricultural conservation to an affordable housing district. If that zoning change is approved, the application would then go to the town’s planning board for review. Another public hearing on limiting the size of large houses is also on the agenda.
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