Pictured Above: Strong’s Yacht Center, with the hill where the new boat storage buildings behind the existing buildings, as seek from across Mattituck Inlet.
Residents will have a chance in May to weigh in on the construction of Strong’s Marine’s plan to build two large proposed boat storage buildings cut into the side of a hill overlooking the Mattituck Inlet.
The Southold Town Planning Board deemed Strong’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project complete in late February, and voted at their March meeting to hold a public hearing on the DEIS at its Monday, May 15 meeting at 6 p.m.
The DEIS is available for public view on the Southold Town website.
The project would include the excavation of 134,000 cubic yards of sand from a hill between the Mill Road Preserve and Mattituck Inlet to bring the elevation of the area down from 50 feet to 10 feet above sea level, cutting down 640 mature trees in the process.
After building a retaining wall, Strongs proposes to build two heated storage buildings for 88 yachts of roughly 60 feet in length. One of the buildings would be 52,400 square feet, and the other would be 49,000 square feet.
Strongs Marine will also hold its own open house and Q&A session for the community with its staff and consultants at the Mattituck-Laurel Library on Tuesday, April 25 from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Community members can drop in at any time, and those unable to attend in person can receive a Zoom link by emailing email@example.com.
Members of Save Mattituck Inlet, which was formed by community members concerned about the construction project, gave a briefing on the project to the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association at its Feb. 27 meeting, and are planning a similar presentation for the Southold Peconic Civic Association’s next public meeting on Saturday, April 15 at 10 a.m. at CAST at 53930 Main Road in Southold. Jeff Strong of Strong’s Marine will also give a presentation on the project.
Among the concerns raised by Save Mattituck Inlet organizers Anne Sherwood Pundyk and Stephen Boscola at the MLCA meeting are the potential damage to the ecosystem surrounding the Mill Road Preserve, the truck traffic involved with removing the sand from the hill, and the potential fire hazards of boat storage and heating the buildings with propane in the long term.
The group has gathered 3,000 signatures on a petition opposing the construction.
“It is a complex project. This one has a lot of moving parts,” said Ms. Pundyk. “The purpose of this group is to raise awareness about the project… Our goal is to make sure the information is available to people.”
“This is one and three-quarters the size of a football field, set into an excavated hillside, with a retaining wall to keep the rest of the material from resuming location inside the excavation site,” she added. “These are warehouse-size buildings on the water’s edge, right there on the inlet.”
“This is five times larger than Brinkmann’s… and nearly four stories tall,” said Ms. Pundyk, referring to a proposed 20,000-square-foot hardware store that had been proposed in downtown Mattituck before Southold Town pursued eminent domain proceedings to acquire the property.
Mr. Boscola added that the Mill Road Preserve, protected by Southold Town in 2002, is home to about 70 species of birds and is a “significant habitat for wildlife.”
He added that it would take 9,000 trips (coming and going) with 30-cubic-yard dump trucks to remove the amount of sand expected to be removed from the hill.
Jeff Strong, of Strong’s Marine, was at the MLCA meeting, where he told the crowd this is the second DEIS his company has performed. The first was deemed incomplete by the Planning Board, and he said changes that were made to the document that was finally approved were “based on public feedback, which is all extremely valuable.”
“We want this to be as good a project as it can be for the community,” said Mr. Strong, who added that his family has been here since 1965, and he and his wife live on Mattituck Creek, where they often kayak.
Also at the MLCA meeting, Save the Sound’s New York Natural Areas Coordinator Louise Harrison gave members of the public an overview of how the Draft Environmental Impact Statement fits into the New York State Environmentaly Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process to address the environmental impacts of large construction projects.
“Nobody has to be an expert to participate in the environmental review of a project,” she said, urging residents to come speak at the May 15 public hearing. “You’re an expert at living where you live. You know what your community is like. SEQRA includes things like community character as an environmental factor…. You may actually have a unique perspective, and it’s valuable.”
“Maybe you’ve taken a walk in the adjoining preserve and have thoughts about the preserve… Do you think the mitigation being offered is adequate for the impacts that have been identified? The DEIS is a tool for the Planning Board and the public together to make a decision.”
“We appreciate that you’re having a public event,” Ms. Harrison said to Mr. Strong at the MLCA meeting, then turned to the crowd. “If you have comments, save your firepower and go to the town’s public hearing. That’s where comments will be recorded for posterity.”
Ms. Harrison will join Ms. Pundyk and Mr. Boscola at the April 15 Southold Peconic Civic Association presentation titled ” Environmental Review is Not Just Local: Case Study in Mattituck Inlet Proposed Boat Storage Project.” All are welcome to attend.