SOUTHOLD, NY — The Southold Town planning board got its first look Monday at a proposal for The Enclaves hotel and restaurant on Main Road in Southold.
The application was before the planning board during its work session for site plan review.
In December, the Southold Town zoning board of appeals granted conditional approval to The Enclaves.
Plans for The Enclaves, located at 56655 Route 25 at the former location of The Hedges bed and breakfast, call for the conversion of an existing 3,026 square foot residence with a 584 square foot addition into a 74-seat restaurant and the construction of a hotel with 44 units and a swimming pool on 6.75 acres in the hamlet business zoning district, according to the planning board.
Then-Southold Town Attorney Bill Duffy said site plan approval from the town’s planning board is needed before the project can proceed.
According to Duffy, the conditional ZBA approval came with caveats: No outdoor or special events can be held — and no expansion will be allowed, he said. In addition, no events with more than 100 guests can be held and all amenities on-site will be for guest use only.
Discussing the plans on Monday via Zoom, Andrew Giambertone, a partner in the project, described the vision for what was former the Hedges B&B on Main Road.
The concept is develop the property to include a hotel with 40 rooms and four cottages. The property is bordered on the south by Main Road, on the north by the Long Island Rail Road, to the east by three residences, and to the west, by Albertson Marine, he said.
Giambertone said the existing Italianate Victorian home will be transformed into a 74-seat restaurant open to the public; a private drive will run across the property and substantial hedgerow will maintain privacy and limit visibility of the hotel from the street.
“The concept was to make the hotel as inconspicuous as possible,” Giambertone said.
The hotel, he said, will be a two-story structure with the majority of the roof flat, except for one portion where a peaked roof will resemble an old stone barn. Plans meet all zoning setback and criteria for the lot, he said. The first floor would be comprised of 26,557 square feet, and the second floor, 22,376 square feet; the cottages would be another 2,376 square feet, Giambertone said.
Hotel guests would be greeted in a reception area with a lounge featuring a deck for cocktails and coffee overlooking a small pond and a 1-plus acre sculpture garden, Giambertone said. The idea was to have a meadow behind the hedgerows that would feature local, rotating artwork that guests could view from the open terrace doors, he said. The lounge would also open out the pool area, Giambertone said.
In the back of the hotel, a kitchen would accommodate room service and small events of no more than 100, Giambertone said. When the hotel was originally conceived, the plan was to host events with 250 people but due to the conditions set by the ZBA of no more than 100, the space is being redesigned for reduced square footage, he said.
Elevators will also be included in the plan; rooms on the west side will have terraces overlooking the pool and on the east side, mirrored windows will reflect the evergreens to lessen visual impact. The cottages will be located on the north side toward the back of the property, he said.
The second floor layout will mirror the first floor and will include an outdoor roof terrace for cocktails and coffee; the second floor will also include meeting rooms, Giambertone said.
The basement will feature a spa, indoor pool, massage and salon space, changing rooms, a gym and the requisite mechanical, utility and storage space, he said.
As for the restaurant, Giambertone said the concept is to maintain the existing footprint of the Victorian home and add 266 square feet to attach an existing garage/shed to the house to provide the storage and accessory kitchen space needed for the restaurant.
Seating for the restaurant will extend over two levels, accessible by a staircase; the building will maintain its existing facade and “from the street side, look no different,” Giambertone said.
Giambertone said he is required to provide 38 parking spots for the restaurant and 56 for the hotel, for a total of 94 spots. Initially, when the plan was for events of 250, he had planned to provide 160 spots but now that those events can include no more than 100 guests, he is working to reduce parking to accommodate that number “and a bit extra,” Giambertone said.
In addition, to meet Suffolk County Department of Health requirements, a sewage treatment plan will be installed in the northeast corner but will also be redesigned for the smaller number of guest allowed, he said.
Dense evergreens on the property line will provide screening; the goal is to plant species including Leland cypress that have a rapid rate of growth and also, to include any currently existing trees in good health. A landscape architect will create a design for the parking areas as well as the dense hedgerows, Giambertone said.
In addition, plans feature one-way ingress and egress, he said.
Giambertone said he realized plans need to address Southold’s Dark Skies lighting mandate.
Planning Board Chair Donald Wilcenski noted that it was the first time that the board was seeing the plans; first, Southold Town Planning Department Director Heather Lanza would go over the application for completeness and then the board would ask for information as needed.
Lanza went over the ZBA conditions, including that no hotel amenities may be used by the public, there is to be no expansion of hotel units presented, and there is to be no outdoor music.
She noted that the application was “well below” the 40 percent lot coverage allowed on a parcel in the hamlet business zone at 18.6 percent; that percentage may drop with the lesser number of guests allowed at events, she said. Lanza said the numbers for event guests needed to be changed from 250 to 100 on the plans.
In addition, Lanza said the applicants needed to provide the gross floor area of the buildings, a lighting plan, and the interior landscaping plans for the parking area; the transition buffer and front landscaped area also need to be addressed, she said. The town also needs a copy of the most recent renderings, she said.
Southold residents turned out in force in October for a zoning board of appeals hearing on a project for the new hotel and restaurant proposed for Main Road that the majority feared would shatter their bucolic quality of life forever.
Time and time again, residents implored the ZBA not to grant the special exception for a project they said would irrevocably alter the character of Southold Town forever. “Just say no!” one resident said.
Some residents have spoken out on social media with concerns regarding environmental issues, noise, quality of life, and impacts on small mom-and-pop businesses in the area; a petition was created, “Opposition to the Enclaves Hotel in Southold.”
The proposed restaurant and hotel will operate year-round, with hours of operation consistent with such uses.
The application was discussed at a Southold planning board work session in 2017.
At a past meeting, Angelina McKenna said she and her husband had come to express concerns “about this horrendous project being proposed. The Town of Southold prides itself on its heritage and strong sense of community,” she said. “Our roads cannot handle more, nor do we want more. Who will benefit from this outlandish, outrageous proposal?”
The project as proposed was first pitched as 22 rooms in 2017 and now proposes 44, she pointed out.
Also, McKenna said, there is already a dearth of affordable housing; there will be nowhere for the facility’s employees to live, meaning they would all have to commute.
“We used to say, ‘Save what’s left,'” said. Terry Walker of Southold. “Now it’s ‘Save what’s left, after I get mine.’ Enough is enough. We are the residents. We matter.”
Paul Romanelli, who lives in Cutchogue and owns a business on Main Road in Southold, spoke out in favor of the project, saying there is a need for more hotel space and that traffic studies are accurate; he does not believe traffic will be an issue. He pointed to other projects by the developers, including North Fork Table and the new Southold General. The goal of the comprehensive plan was to site new businesses in the hamlet centers and to stimulate the economy, he said. “We got what we wanted,” he said, adding that B&Bs and hotels are full year-round.
Giambertone spoke to Patch in 2017 about the vision for the plan.
He said the goal was to create a “high-end” restaurant. “We’re hoping to create a unique environment. The Town of Southold seems to be gravitating toward bringing more upscale wine tastings to the wine area.”
The owners of the property, Giambertone said, are local residents. “They’re looking to preserve the bucolic nature of Southold, and not turn it into anything else. They love what Southold is all about, love the relaxed atmosphere. And they see the need for the hotel, see the need for that opportunity.”
The need for a hotel exists, he said. But neighbors should not worry about a noisy establishment, he said. The aim is to provide guests with a place of “respite and privacy, where they can enjoy what’s beautiful about Southold — which is the peace and quiet,” Giambertone said at the time.