The Southold Town Planning Board heard from a group of neighbors who are opposed to parts of the site plan of the 10-acre G. W. Meade Farm in Southold, including the building of a new 5,200 square-foot barn and a 14,400-square-foot indoor arena to accommodate a riding academy.
Bruce Anderson, spokesman for the project, said at Monday night's meeting that the site plan was a redevelopment and upgrade of the existing horse farm. Anderson said the current barn can hold 25 horses and his clients' plan would reduce the number of horses to 13 and 'the new plan would be a “reduction in the intensity of use.”
Replacing the quiet horse farm with stark commercial development was a concern for neighbor Ed Ward. His said that his primary concern was that three houses in a neighboring subdivision would share one driveway with the horse farm. Ward urged the board to have the applicants add a separate driveway to the plan to reduce traffic.
Neighbor John Peters said when he purchased his house, he purchased an easement to help preserve the rural character in the neighborhood. Peters said it was selfish of the applicants to consider using a residential driveway for a commercial purpose.
“When we purchased our home, we did not know what we were buying was not what we were going to see forever,” he said.
Anderson said the application is subject to covenants and restrictions of an agricultural reserve easement area and that there is no question as to whether the applicant can build a barn. Horses are also mentioned as a use for a certified agricultural district and Anderson said the current plan complies with the covenants and restrictions placed on the lot by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“If you want farms to be non-commercial, you will be growing houses here,” Anderson said.
Mary Peters said she purchased the property because she loves the horse farm and she said she is not opposed to seeing Southold grow and change; however, she wants to make sure the rural and agricultural property in Southold is protected in a respectful way. She said she was also concerned for the children who lived in the neighborhood.
“You’re trying to raise horses. We’re trying to raise children,” she said.
Applicant Lucille Sullivan told the board there would be no horse shows at the arena and that her intentions were to use it for riding lessons and classes. She said she would be boarding horses in the new barn and her family planned to gut the historical barn on the property and use it as a work shop.
The planning board voted to keep the public hearing open for another month to hear additional comments.