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Feb 10, 2016 9:20 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

More Hearings On Gateway Proposal Are Planned As Opponents Raise Concerns On Tuesday

Kyle Collins presents specifics of the Gateway proposal. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
Feb 10, 2016 10:06 AM

A plan for a residential and retail complex across from Bridgehampton Commons drew fire at a public hearing on Tuesday afternoon.

Speakers questioned the impact that Gateway—a proposal that would require a planned development district, a special zoning designation granted by the Town Board— would have on the Bridgehampton neighborhood and environment. As currently drafted, Gateway would include up to 90,000 square feet of commercial and residential space on 13 acres, pulling together what are now eight individual parcels. The result would be 30 residential units, mostly second-floor apartments, and several retail stores.

Currently, the Gateway site is mostly zoned for highway business use, which would limit it to uses like car dealerships and appliance stores. A PDD would open the site up to more types of retail use.

The public hearing was the second pertaining to the Gateway, but it was the first involving the three new Town Board members elected in November and January: Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, and Town Board members John Bouvier and Julie Lofstad. Ultimately, the board opted to hold open the hearing to receive more public comments.

The Gateway proposal has been on and off the Southampton Town docket several times since 2003, but has returned the last two years at the request of the Town Board, whose members have said the project could offer several benefits to help revitalize downtown Bridgehampton.

But several speakers took aim at the project.

“I think this would be a wonderful development—if it were in Islip,” Noyac resident Larry Penny said.

Mr. Penny, the former natural resources director for East Hampton Town, said his key concerns involve the proposed location of a sewage treatment plant serving the site, which he said is too close to several small ponds, particularly Kellis Pond, which runs right behind the site of the proposed plant.

“The ponds are pretty well protected, but this one, I think, is doomed if we go along with this plan,” he said.

After expressing further concerns about parking, Mr. Penny also explained that Bridgehampton has a significant history of farming and fishing, and that a project such as the Gateway would destroy that legacy.

Other residents, like Sandy Taylor, agreed. According to Ms. Taylor, who lives on Hildreth Avenue, the proposal does not fit with the character of Bridgehampton. She added that it would create too much retail space that could not be filled.

“If any of these places are vacated, we don’t have enough stores that can be sustained without the summer people,” she said. “They can’t be sustained year round. And with Bridgehampton Commons, we already look like Riverhead.”

At the hearing, the board also heard from attorney Jeff Bragman, who is representing a new civic group, Bridgehampton Action Now, or BAN, in opposition to the Gateway project. He said he represents roughly a dozen Bridgehampton residents. In the next few weeks, he said, he plans to submit a petition against the project with over 350 signatures. He said Gateway would create an overly suburbanized environment in Bridgehampton.

But not everyone was against the proposal. Sag Harbor-based real estate broker Simon Harrison said the development, especially its residential aspect, could be exactly what the East End needs in the next few years to keep people in reasonably priced dwellings.

“In the past couple of years, housing prices have soared,” he said. “That means this stock will fit in the pipeline very nicely and be a vital aspect for the neighborhood. If we have an opportunity to add this much year-round housing stock, plus a sewage treatment plant, I think it would be hard-pressed to ignore that.”

Mr. Harrison did ask that the board consider all options when deciding on a landscaping plan for the development, saying that certain pesticides should be avoided.

According to Town Planning/Development Administrator Kyle Collins, the project is still in the pre-application phase, meaning the Town Board will have to vote whether it is moving forward to the application phase. This week, the town opted to hold open the public hearing phase until its February 23 meeting at 6 p.m. at Southampton Town Hall.

“I’m feeling like this is a large project with sweeping potential impacts that, should this board only consider during one public hearing on a winter weekday, would be bad,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I would like to keep it open to the next meeting, a night meeting, to give additional public opportunities to comment.”

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Sounds as if the Town Board and Supervisor have put away the rubber stamp for this PDD application. Excellent!
By bigfresh (4663), north sea on Feb 10, 16 11:23 AM
wish the town would let them put the cones back on the carvel roof
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Feb 10, 16 11:46 AM
3 members liked this comment
Wow. It's so much better to have tire shops, or pop up nurseries, or used car dealerships, or discount appliance stores. Year round housing is absolutely needed in this town. Agreed that the environmental aspect should be addressed, but remember that sewer treatment plants are a good thing! It is time to show those semi-retirees with their Starbucks cards and work out attire who are simply protesting any kind of advancement or development that this town realizes the population boom and the need ...more
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Feb 10, 16 12:06 PM
2 members liked this comment
Haven't you heard though? No new nothing, not now, not never!! My aesthetic needs trump all other considerations!!
By Inch_High_PI (29), Southampton on Feb 10, 16 1:42 PM
2 members liked this comment
Its a Mega Mall!
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 10, 16 11:30 PM
Here's the plan:

Propose a giant retail/housing facility that is far too big for the area. Citizens will protest. Then say, "Welllllll, ok! We're only going to put 20 shops in here instead of 200 shops and we'll scrap the large housing project and instead, we'll build 5 oversized multimillion dollar homes on tiny plots of land."

Citizens will breathe a sigh of relief and say, "Now yer talkin'. We won!" Meanwhile, the developers only wanted to build 20 retail shops (which will ...more
By btdt (449), water mill on Feb 11, 16 10:50 AM
Maybe I'm missing something but I didn't realize downtown Bridgehampton needs to be "revitalized".
By N8star (2), Bridgehampton on Feb 11, 16 11:25 AM