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Southold mulls overlay district to boost recreation options for town residents

Any changes to zoning code that might include clubs or sports facilities would need to include regulations limiting noise disturbances to neighboring communities, said Town Supervisor Scott Russell.

Guidelines recommend that facilities within a proposed Southold

Guidelines recommend that facilities within a proposed Southold Town overlay district be placed in the immediate vicinity of existing courts, ballfields or parks, such as Jean Cochran Park in Peconic. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Southold Town officials are considering several zoning changes to offer more recreational options for residents, including creating an overlay district that would permit indoor family entertainment, sports facilities, public health clubs and more.

In addition to a Recreational Hub Overlay District, the town board is considering several zoning changes, including opening up industrial zones that would be subject to approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals, and other locations regardless of zoning.

The permitted uses within the overlay district would include private membership clubs, public health clubs and facilities for indoor family entertainment, commercial recreation, recreation provided by nonprofits, sports and sports education. The guidelines recommend district properties be placed in the immediate vicinity of existing parks, ballfields and courts, or “similar that are publicly accessible.”

According to the guidelines presented to the board at its July 3 work session, the overlay district would “allow the development of facilities that provide recreation, entertainment, family activities or facilities that promote health to the community at large.”

Supervisor Scott Russell said in a July 6 interview that the town "had been desperately lacking” recreational facilities.

Several such facilities have been proposed over the years, including a laser tag site and the Sports East facility in Mattituck, but those projects had run into roadblocks stemming from town zoning codes that did not permit their uses.

Russell added that residents have in the past asked for more facilities, such as indoor swimming and indoor sports, during discussions on the recreational chapter of the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Russell said the proposed code, much like a similar rule in East Hampton’s code, would have to include regulations that prevent nearby residential neighborhoods from being disturbed.

The town’s Code Committee will review the proposed district's guidelines this month, Russell said. He added that the town’s attorney, William Duffy, will look into recreational zoning that may exist in other towns and how such zoning could apply in Southold.

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