Jeff Strong, owner of Strong’s Yacht Center, seen here in May...

Jeff Strong, owner of Strong’s Yacht Center, seen here in May 2023, said Tuesday he plans to downsize his plan to expand the facility. Credit: Randee Daddona

A marina owner whose plans to build a pair of yacht storage buildings on Mattituck Inlet faced steep public opposition said he will downsize his project after the Suffolk County Planning Commission rejected his application.

Jeff Strong, owner of the family-run Strong’s Yacht Center, said in an interview Tuesday he plans to reduce the scope of the proposal, which calls for two storage warehouses totaling 101,500 square feet to store up to 88 boats.

Heated winter storage is in demand as yachts become more sophisticated, Strong said. But in a report and subsequent vote to deny the application, the planning commission validated concerns raised by neighbors and environmentalists.

“It is evident that the proposed project … will result in significant negative environmental impacts,” the report said.

The project called for clearing a forested hillside of 600 oak and beech trees and excavating nearly 135,000 cubic yards of sand that would be hauled away using an estimated 9,000 truck trips.

An environmental review found the construction would impact traffic and noise and potentially worsen flooding, since excavating would create a “bowl” on the property.

Mattituck Inlet is not wide or deep enough to remove the sand using a barge to reduce tractor trailer traffic, the report said.

The planning commission rejected the application in an 8-4 vote on June 20, and Southold’s local planning board was expected to follow suit. But that board voted 4-0 Monday to delay a final decision until Aug. 5, allowing Strong time to revise his plans.

“All applicants have the right to submit revised plans at any time prior to a final decision,” planning board chair James Rich said Monday, adding the revisions would be “scrutinized thoroughly.”

In an interview Wednesday, Strong did not specify what changes would be made, only that there would be “significantly less” square footage and excavation required.

A letter sent to the planning board by David Altman, an attorney for Strong, on July 2 indicated the project would be reduced from two buildings to one.

Louise Harrison, of Peconic, a conservation biologist and manager at the nonprofit Save the Sound, said the organization and Save Mattituck Inlet, a community group formed in 2020 to oppose the project, will closely track the changes.

“What’s significant in a change to the applicant may not look significant to the rest of us that are concerned about protecting natural resources,” Harrison, 69, said.

Anne Sherwood Pundyk, of Mattituck, was one of nearly 50 residents who attended Monday’s meeting wearing pins that read “Save Mattituck Inlet.”

Pundyk, 68, hopes the new project will strike a balance that “everyone can live with,” though her environmental concerns remain.

“If you put in one building, it’s still taking the sand out. There’s no way to do this project,” she said.

Strong faces a July 22 deadline to submit revised plans ahead of the August town planning meeting.

Strong, 67, said the storage facilities must be built on site because transporting yachts larger than 60 feet by truck is “just not realistic.”

He said the company is trying to address concerns while remaining a viable shipyard.

“Working waterfront is very much under pressure, because the highest and best return for us as a family and property owner would be to sell it for development.”

A marina owner whose plans to build a pair of yacht storage buildings on Mattituck Inlet faced steep public opposition said he will downsize his project after the Suffolk County Planning Commission rejected his application.

Jeff Strong, owner of the family-run Strong’s Yacht Center, said in an interview Tuesday he plans to reduce the scope of the proposal, which calls for two storage warehouses totaling 101,500 square feet to store up to 88 boats.

Heated winter storage is in demand as yachts become more sophisticated, Strong said. But in a report and subsequent vote to deny the application, the planning commission validated concerns raised by neighbors and environmentalists.

“It is evident that the proposed project … will result in significant negative environmental impacts,” the report said.

The project called for clearing a forested hillside of 600 oak and beech trees and excavating nearly 135,000 cubic yards of sand that would be hauled away using an estimated 9,000 truck trips.

An environmental review found the construction would impact traffic and noise and potentially worsen flooding, since excavating would create a “bowl” on the property.

Mattituck Inlet is not wide or deep enough to remove the sand using a barge to reduce tractor trailer traffic, the report said.

The planning commission rejected the application in an 8-4 vote on June 20, and Southold’s local planning board was expected to follow suit. But that board voted 4-0 Monday to delay a final decision until Aug. 5, allowing Strong time to revise his plans.

“All applicants have the right to submit revised plans at any time prior to a final decision,” planning board chair James Rich said Monday, adding the revisions would be “scrutinized thoroughly.”

In an interview Wednesday, Strong did not specify what changes would be made, only that there would be “significantly less” square footage and excavation required.

A letter sent to the planning board by David Altman, an attorney for Strong, on July 2 indicated the project would be reduced from two buildings to one.

Louise Harrison, of Peconic, a conservation biologist and manager at the nonprofit Save the Sound, said the organization and Save Mattituck Inlet, a community group formed in 2020 to oppose the project, will closely track the changes.

“What’s significant in a change to the applicant may not look significant to the rest of us that are concerned about protecting natural resources,” Harrison, 69, said.

Anne Sherwood Pundyk, of Mattituck, was one of nearly 50 residents who attended Monday’s meeting wearing pins that read “Save Mattituck Inlet.”

Pundyk, 68, hopes the new project will strike a balance that “everyone can live with,” though her environmental concerns remain.

“If you put in one building, it’s still taking the sand out. There’s no way to do this project,” she said.

Strong faces a July 22 deadline to submit revised plans ahead of the August town planning meeting.

Strong, 67, said the storage facilities must be built on site because transporting yachts larger than 60 feet by truck is “just not realistic.”

He said the company is trying to address concerns while remaining a viable shipyard.

“Working waterfront is very much under pressure, because the highest and best return for us as a family and property owner would be to sell it for development.”

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Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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