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Aug 15, 2014 2:32 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Environmental Study Needed For CVS Special Exception Application In Bridgehampton

Aug 22, 2014 2:59 PM

Southampton Town officials are calling upon the Suffolk County Health Department to get involved in an environmental impact study as part of the review of an application seeking to construct a new CVS Pharmacy on a vacant lot in Bridgehampton—and both have less than a month to determine which will be the lead agency on the review.

The environmental study will be part of the required New York State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA.

At a meeting of the Southampton Town Planning Board on Thursday, August 14, Chairman Dennis Finnerty said the Suffolk County Health Department would have until Thursday, September 11, to take the lead on the upcoming study. If the department opts not to step forward, Planning Board members will coordinate with the county but ultimately will have the final say on the review, according to Mr. Finnerty.

The state reviews are subject to one of two actions, depending on different aspects of a particular project, such as the amount of acreage that it covers, or if it requires a change of zoning, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. A Type I action requires an outside review, while a Type II action states that an applicant can bypass such a process.

The special exception application filed by CVS has been classified as an “unlisted action,” and therefore does not require agency coordination on the review. But Planning Board members—citing the public interest in the application, with many residents opposing the plan—said they want to take every precaution necessary to ensure that the application is pwroperly vetted.

CVS requires a special exception permit in order to be the sole tenant occupying an approved two-story, 9,000-square-foot building to be constructed at 2150 Montauk Highway; zoning regulations cap at 5,000 square feet the amount of space that could be occupied by a single tenant. The chain is looking to open a pharmacy on a busy intersection that features the convergence of three additional roads—Lumber Lane, Ocean Road and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.

“The board and staff felt it was appropriate to at least coordinate the process,” Mr. Finnerty said, explaining the request to seek input from the county.

But John Bennett, the Southampton-based attorney representing CVS, said that because he already has a permit from the health department, in addition to a building permit, the application should be classified as a Type II action, which would require no SEQRA review. Mr. Bennett also speculated that the Planning Board is simply trying to push off a decision on the special exception permit, pointing to the community opposition.

“I don’t know how to characterize it other than trying to delay it,” he said. “It’s a very reasonable, run-of-the-mill application. I have a health department permit for it, for dry retail. I’m not even adding anything to it. They can start building that 9,000-square-foot building tomorrow.”

Former Town Planning and Development Administrator Jeff Murphree, now a professional land use planner in Sag Harbor, has taken the opposite position: Citing town code, Mr. Murphree said he thinks the application should be classified as a Type I action because it includes “an associated parking area where the total number of parking spaces, including both existing and proposed parking, is 50 spaces or greater.”

Mr. Murphree, who served on the board from 1998 to 2012, said he has been closely monitoring the CVS situation because his in-laws live on Lumber Lane and near the vacant lot where the pharmacy would go.

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