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Aug 12, 2015 11:21 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Southampton School District Will Receive Bridgehampton Gateway's Property Tax Revenue

The Bridgehampton Gateway is located on the south side of Montauk Highway, across from Bridgehampton Commons.
Aug 12, 2015 11:52 AM

The planned Bridgehampton Gateway project—and, specifically, where its tax revenues will go—was on the minds of members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee at a recent meeting.

Despite its proximity to the Bridgehampton School, the 13-acre Gateway parcel is located within the Southampton School District boundary. Drawn more than half a century ago, it runs almost as far east as the Citarella market in Bridgehampton, and also includes the Bridgehampton Commons shopping plaza.

“The lines are the lines, and they’ve been there since the 1950s,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said in an interview after the meeting. “I was very surprised that the lines came that far east also,” he added, noting that it is extremely difficult to change them.

Mr. Thiele said was not sure how the district lines were drawn, but said it is possible that Southampton may have had more “political clout” at the time.

Nancy Walter-Yvertes, co-chair of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee, explained that much of the Bridgehampton community supports the Gateway project, although it is upsetting that the hamlet’s school will not get any of its property tax revenue.

“I’m heartbroken. I think it was a terrible mistake to draw a school district in such a way that taxes from the Bridgehampton mall went to the Southampton School District,” she said. “Nobody seems to think that we would be successful redesigning that line, so I’m personally not going to go there, because I am not making a career out of this.”

The Bridgehampton Gateway property, owned by Konner Development, is in the process of consideration for a planned development district; the Southampton Town Board could allow the special zoning after the completion of a state environmental review. A PDD would allow uses of the property that are normally not authorized under the existing zoning.

Currently, the property is zoned mostly for highway businesses, except for 2.66 acres that are zoned residential.

Southampton Town Principal Planner Amy Pfeiffer explained that the public review of the Gateway will likely start mid-September, when public hearings will be held so residents can share their concerns and what they hope to see come out of the Gateway project.

Ms. Pfeiffer described the PDD as a type of “preservation,” because the community is able to have a say in the type of businesses that can go into the Gateway, the materials used for building, the size of the buildings, and even what they do not want to see there. “What we can’t do is zone against certain franchises—that’s illegal. But we can say we would prefer certain types of stores,” Ms. Pfeiffer said.

Currently, there are 12 buildings planned, ranging from 3,600 square feet to 15,000 square feet each, and totaling 90,000 square feet of commercial space. Two of the larger buildings, at 13,000 and 14,000 square feet, will house an Equinox gym, which is a high-end fitness facility. The second stories of eight of the buildings, according to the plans, will be residential units—there will be 28 “community benefit” units and two market rate units.

Part of the deal, if the developer gets approval for a PDD, is that they would have to provide a “substantial community benefit” to the Bridgehampton community. Ms. Pfeiffer said perhaps the developer could provide something for the Bridgehampton School District in this regard, since it is Southampton School District that will get the Gateway’s tax revenue. “I don’t have any control over it. I don’t have any comment on it; it’s just how it is,” Ms. Pfeiffer said about the school district lines. “It’s a hard thing—it’s always hard to say how these things should play out, and it happens the lines are where they are.”

Although the Bridgehampton Gateway is smaller in scale than the Bridgehampton Commons and will be mixed-use zoning, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst explained that “that does not necessarily mean it will bring in less [tax revenue] than the Commons.”

The Bridgehampton Commons generated $385,165 in property tax revenue last year—a number that might seem surprisingly low for a big commercial development. “It is based on the numbers that are submitted to us from tax returns. That is how commercial property is assessed everywhere,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. She also pointed out that the businesses that will be a part of the Gateway have not yet been determined.

For all 13 acres of the property, Konner development currently pays $50,000 in property taxes. Ms. Pfeiffer said that the projected property tax revenue of the Gateway will not be available until the state environmental review and impact statement are completed. She hopes to have the draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS, within the next few weeks.

“No matter what, that is a piece of property that has an underlying right on it, and it will get developed and the proposal is in the hopes that it will be better for the community,” Ms. Throne-Holst said, reiterating that the school district lines are drawn by the state and almost impossible to change.

“The way the process works right now is that to change a school district boundary requires the approval of both school districts and the approval of the State Department of Education. I have never seen a school district boundary changed,” Mr. Thiele explained. “There seems to be strong support for the project in the Bridgehampton community, as well as in the town—it is, perhaps, a little bit discouraging that tax revenues won’t go to Bridgehampton School District,” Mr. Thiele said.

The fact that the PDD will allow for the low-rise architecture, affordable housing, an exercise and walking track near the wetlands on Kellis Pond and friendly parking is part of what makes it appealing to the community. “It is zoned for very nice things,” Ms. Walter-Yvertes said, adding that much of the hamlet would love to see a CVS be part of the Bridgehampton Gateway.

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years ago there was a Hayground School District which was merged with Southampton SD
By xtiego (683), bridgehampton on Aug 12, 15 3:39 PM
This is another of Supervisor Anna's special PDD projects to please her developer supporters. It will be asking for special zoning changes from residential use as well as from highway business zoned land into a shopping center zone. Questionable at best. It will turn the entrance to Bridgehampton into a suburban, up island style shopping plaza with tacky buildings on both sides of the road. That's not why people come out here.
By Crabby (63), Southampton on Aug 12, 15 4:01 PM
Look at that map. Southampton school district reached far into Bridgehampton and grabbed all the commercial land. Leaving nothing for Bridgehampton.
By BH11932 (10), Bridgehampton on Aug 12, 15 6:13 PM
do not forget that holst is running for congress next year. better line up those donors and votes now. if congress doesn't pan out, she has a real estate license now with saunders ,so she can broker all that space at gateway.disgusting.
By wmdwjr (76), east hampton on Aug 13, 15 3:42 AM
1 member liked this comment
Southampton SD merged with the very old Water Mill andHayground districts many, many years ago before Lipa was built and was farmland except for a dairy (Ralph Sayre who was blind and delivered milk all over town until he died with the help of his driver whose name I cannot member) and a very old drive in theater put up in the
early 1950's. Really no tax basis back then. Many of the Hayground and Water Mill kids did go to Bridgehampton school back then but BHSD disdn't want the Hayground ...more
By xtiego (683), bridgehampton on Aug 14, 15 5:11 PM
Great background info xtiego.
Thank you.
By bird (755), Sag Harbor on Aug 14, 15 7:20 PM
do your homework before you become "heartbroken"
By xtiego (683), bridgehampton on Aug 14, 15 7:02 PM