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May 13, 2015 11:49 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Residents Sue To Stop Shinnecock Canal Projects

Hampton Bays resident Rita Knox, one of the plaintiffs. speaks during a public hearing on the Canoe Place Inn proposed Maritime Planned Development District in 2014.
May 14, 2015 7:30 PM

More than two dozen Hampton Bays residents have filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court challenging the Southampton Town Board’s approval of a townhouse development on the eastern shore of the Shinnecock Canal and the renovation of the Canoe Place Inn.

A statement released this week by the group’s attorney, Jennifer Juengst, explains that the suit will seek to overturn the town’s approval in January of a special zoning change, called a planned development district or PDD, that cleared the path for developers Gregg and Mitchell Rechler to construct 37 townhouses on approximately 4.5 acres on the canal’s eastern shoreline. The approval also permits the cousins to redevelop the Canoe Place Inn property on the western side of the canal by restoring the existing building into a 25-room inn, adding a cluster of guest cottages and opening a 300-seat catering hall on the estimated 5.6-acre inn property. A septic treatment system connected to the townhouses would be constructed on a third property on the east side of the waterway and on North Road, adjacent a residential neighborhood where most of the residents filing the suit live.

“The suit argues that state environmental law prohibits benefiting a builder at the expense of the community,” the statement from Ms. Juengst reads. “The Rechler deal cannot be justified because it benefits the developer at the expense of the people who already live there.”

One of the many plaintiffs in the suit, Rita Knox, said residents of the small neighborhood on the east side of North Road were appalled at the Town Board’s decision to allow the development, and the siting of the septic treatment system on the property in their neighborhood.

“The Town Board’s decision is something that should frighten every … resident of Hampton Bays,” Ms. Knox said. “Until the last minute, we had hoped the town was going to do the right thing. We were very disheartened that the representatives 
of the town were doing nothing to protect the community. We were all left scratching our heads.”

Ms. Knox said that 32 residents, from her neighborhood and other parts of Hampton Bays, have already contributed financial support to the legal challenge and that several others have pledged additional support as legal fees require in the future.

Southampton Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said she had seen the statement by Ms. Juengst but, as of Tuesday evening, the town had yet to be served with the lawsuit.

Ms. Juengst said the Article 78 lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, the day before the four-month statute of limitations on challenging the project was to expire, and that the town would be served soon.

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said she was confident the approval of the project would stand up to the challenge in the eyes of a court.

“I think we are on very solid ground,” said Ms. Throne-Holst, who convinced the Rechlers to abandon their original plans to raze the Canoe Place Inn and build timeshares it its place, of the legal challenge. “It’s a shame that we live in this litigious environment and that we’re going to have to spend taxpayer money on a lawsuit that I’m sure is on air-tight footing.”

The two-pronged development project was approved, despite not conforming to area zoning, by virtue of the town’s PDD legislation, which allows a supermajority of the Town Board to exempt a property from the town’s zoning code if a project presents a superlative benefit to the public.

Prior to unanimously approving the project, Town Board members said the redevelopment would benefit Hampton Bays by saving the crumbling inn and that the off-site wastewater treatment facility servicing the townhouses would better protect both the groundwater and nearby bay better than if they permitted as-of-right development along the canal.

Ms. Knox said all of the plaintiffs in the forthcoming suit were among the dozens of Hampton Bays residents who raised objections to the development plans at a series of public hearing sessions held last summer and fall. Many objected to the fact that a long succession of planning studies conducted by the town over the last four decades all recommended that the canal’s eastern shoreline be developed with a mix of retail and restaurant commercial establishments.

Town Board members charged, based on assessments by the Rechlers, that such commercial development of the canal property was not viable. Nonetheless, the Rechlers pointed to their ability to develop up to three restaurants and a small motel on the canal-side property, which sits between Montauk Highway and the Long Island Rail Road trestle, as the alternative to the townhouse development.

Gregg Rechler released a statement on Wednesday afternoon through a spokesman, saying: "We are unable to comment on the suit because we have not been served," the statement reads. "However, we have the highest level of confidence in the process that resulted in a unanimous vote of approval for the plan by the Southampton Town Toard."

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yeah! totally agree! what are they thinking!? 37 townhomes?! it's a nightmare!
By ecandth (2), hampton bays on May 13, 15 2:36 PM
3 members liked this comment
That's a lot of poop.
By johnj (960), Westhampton on May 13, 15 3:06 PM
2 members liked this comment
No, its revenue that possible could reduce our property tax.
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on May 14, 15 6:12 PM
Are you kidding? 37 townhouses would increase the appearance of Hampton Bays, create jobs, and attract wealthier people therefore increasing the overall hampton economy...
By lliinn17 (3), Hampton Bays on May 14, 15 11:53 PM
I meant literal 'poop' going right into our waters.
By johnj (960), Westhampton on May 15, 15 9:30 AM
To read the the plan is to see that it calls for the 'poop' to be captured on the townhouse site in septic tanks and for overflow wastewater to be treated before release.
Nothing will be going 'right into our waters' as it would if the area was operating as usual today, or if the area were built according to usual zoning tomorrow.
What is going into water, however, is untreated waste rolling down hill from a neighborhood to the east.



By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on May 15, 15 3:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hilarious! They've been building, building, building houses and condos where I live and my property taxes keep going up and up and up. When was the last time your property taxes were reduced? Yet new houses are built every year. They're not reducing anyone's taxes. More houses, more sewers. More houses, more roads. More roads, more road upkeep. More houses, more electrical lines need to be laid.

More residences, more taxes.

There. Fixed that for you.
By btdt (435), water mill on May 20, 15 8:54 PM
Good!
By sandydog21 (194), Southampton on May 13, 15 5:14 PM
Thanks for wasting your time... Let them fix this dump.. Values will go up in the neighborhood.. It benefits the residents here.
By bigblue84 (76), Hampton Bays on May 13, 15 7:05 PM
Of course Her Royal Majesty, Queen Anna of the PDD says the Town is on solid legal footing, her political contributors have bought and paid for her support. This project is a debacle.
By bigfresh (4150), north sea on May 13, 15 7:14 PM
Some people would rather look at that dilapidated dump than see HB finally make some progress in improving its reputation. Progress is contagious, fix this up and others will follow. Let things sit there and rot and there will be more deterioration and more regression and property values will never improve. Maybe we get more poop from all the illegals that show up because no one else wants to come to HB.
By HamptonDad (203), Hampton Bays on May 13, 15 7:51 PM
No need for condos. How about a park, fishing station, or some waterfront dining? We don't need more houses, and we certainly don't need any more people out here.
By johnj (960), Westhampton on May 14, 15 9:53 AM
What price, progress?
By Mr. Z (10998), North Sea on May 13, 15 8:57 PM
The Rechlers can "rehabilitate" the Canoe Place Inn and could have all the years they owned the property because its already zoned for this use. The purpose of the zoning change was to allow residential use on the Canal; high density townhouses 74000 sq feet vs the current right to build 18000 sq ft; exemption from environmental laws; waste water facility off site, across the road in someone else's backyard. Let the Rechlers know you want the CPI: now. If your looking for increased tax revenues ...more
By blue moon (7), Southampton on May 13, 15 9:33 PM
2 members liked this comment
I think you are missing the point, But you already know that dont you... LOL
By joe hampton (3297), southampton on May 15, 15 12:07 AM
3 members liked this comment
In the same vein, has the town figured out how to stop Farrell builders from destroying this beautiful place.
By rvs (102), sag harbor on May 13, 15 10:21 PM
4 members liked this comment
HRH Queen Anna has studied the laws affecting her developer policies, knows the judges well (a connected judge is her landlord) is her feels she can make decisions with other developer financed Town Board members with impunity against thousands of outraged affected townspeople.

Hampton Bays residents are heroes, blazing a trail of populist anger that is now reaching a crescendo with one after another ATH decision opposed by the community but great for developers, her solid campaign contributors.

This ...more
By Obbservant (443), southampton on May 14, 15 4:28 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By unjustifiedjustice2 (35), Hampton bays on May 14, 15 9:34 AM
Typical Hampton Bays mentality: Say no to progress and development, then complain about the stagnant and deteriorating conditions. Way to sue yourselves. Like taxes aren't high enough. Bring on development and let's modernize this Town; from Eastport to Wainscott. It is inevitable, so embrace it and make it work.
By Mouthampton (417), Southampton on May 14, 15 10:22 AM
5 members liked this comment
Who would raise a billion in community preservation funds, then allow developers to build all these new high density housing projects that have never been a part of the East End's landscape? Pond Crossing is an abomination, and the number of these high density projects is ever-growing. They only benefit the developers and leave the residents to deal with the increased traffic, congestion and over-crowding that is becoming the new hallmark of our communities.
By willi777 (4), Hampton Bays on May 14, 15 1:36 PM
4 members liked this comment
Pond crossing replaced an emergency run down hotel that was a huge nuisance. Now it is a dozen or so beautiful homes paying real taxes, and helping the environment.
I'm glad these idiots had an attorney take their money for a case they can't win. An article 78 is a broad application of law, and has to have a high standard to beat a municipality. The use proposed is an improvement, and is less intensive.
The fact remains Hampton Bays is falling fast, and with no one to develop Hampton ...more
By chief1 (2634), southampton on May 14, 15 4:26 PM
5 members liked this comment
Count me as a HB resident in favor of the project. Decisions shouldn't be based on envy of someone making a profit. We see that enough from liberals in Washington. The decision should be made on cleaning up the blight in our community. I'm tired of being embarrassed to have visitors drive by this eye sore. Full speed ahead, please!
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on May 14, 15 6:11 PM
4 members liked this comment
High density on the canal, a sewage treatment plant off site, less public access to the canal frontage. Only someone making money from this , or someone from up the Island who doesn't know better could be in favor of condos here.
By bigfresh (4150), north sea on May 14, 15 6:37 PM
3 members liked this comment
Only someone who doesn't drive by it every day could be so arrogant. Stop trying to deprive worthwhile projects that will enhance our community
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on May 15, 15 8:24 AM
2 members liked this comment
The folks who are litigating to prevent this should think twice and instead use the funds to have a party honoring the brothers.
By Summer Resident (224), Southampton N.Y. on May 15, 15 1:19 AM
3 members liked this comment
“The Rechler deal cannot be justified because it benefits the developer at the expense of the people who already live there.”

Only homeless drifters live anywhere near the site. On one side is a dilapidated fire hazard called the Canoe Place Inn. Surrounding it are vagrants camping near the tracks. On the other side is land that is inaccessible, and nobody cares that it is, because nobody would want to set foot on it anyway in its current condition.
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on May 15, 15 8:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
I am so tired of looking at the CPI every morning driving to work, it looks like SH*@T! There is no historic value left, replicate it now. We need to put some charm back into that part of town. The town house issues can be worked out while some progress is being made to better Hampton Bays.
By Easterlywind (7), Southampton on May 15, 15 8:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
Do not allow the condo project to go forward until the CPI project is nearing completion. Make the Rechlers prove they will renovate the Inn first, then deal with the canal side project. There is no reason to link the two.
May 15, 15 3:01 PM appended by VOS
Right now the developers have been holding Hampton Bays hostage by allowing these properties to deteriorate to raise the sentiments above. Make them show they will be good neighbors by cleaning up all these eyesores and doing the CPI redevelopment first.
By VOS (1169), WHB on May 15, 15 3:01 PM
This was repeated, and repeated, and repeated...the Rechler's can not work on the east side until they work on the west side. That was said from day one.

By bb (856), Hampton Bays on May 15, 15 8:44 PM
2 members liked this comment
Talk is cheap. Why haven't they pursued building permits for the CPI project? What's holding them up? Why do they allow the property to continue to deteriorate and collect litter? What are they waiting for?
By VOS (1169), WHB on May 16, 15 5:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
The lawsuit that was threatened before they received approval. The one that was just filed.


By bb (856), Hampton Bays on May 16, 15 11:30 AM
It appears that this report is incorrect, according to Newsday it is Shinnecock Hills' residents and not HB residents filing the lawsuit. Doesn't make me feel any better, but at least we know where the opposition is really coming from.
By HamptonDad (203), Hampton Bays on May 15, 15 4:27 PM
They are probably Hampton Bays residents who live just east of the canal calling themselves Shinnecock Hills resident because it sounds more upscale.
By fish sticks (52), hampton bays on May 16, 15 9:15 AM
3 members liked this comment
both names sound very nice to me ... I think in real estate circles however both are equally considered the dregs
By david h (405), southampton on May 19, 15 1:11 PM
Ah...with one remark he giveth. With the next he taketh away...
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on May 21, 15 11:57 AM
2 members liked this comment
"I am so tired of looking at the CPI every morning driving to work, it looks like SH*@T!"
"The decision should be made on cleaning up the blight in our community."
The Rechlers are responsible for letting these properties become "blights".
A conscientious owner wouldn't have let it come to this, simply a ploy to get residents to back their plans. If this is how they maintain their properties, i really don't want them anywhere in HB.
By willi777 (4), Hampton Bays on May 16, 15 7:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
Let me understand, you expected them to fix up a building that they may be tearing down? They can't start to work on the building that they aren't tearing down. What about the previous owner, they bear no fault for the building being in disrepair?

At the request of the town's people the Rechler's stopped renting the building. The neighbors were tired of a club in their back yard. At that time, who knew it would take years to get to this point.

As far as "profit driven" do ...more
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on May 16, 15 11:33 AM
2 members liked this comment
Why would they be tearing it down? They have told the community they are committed to improving it. Was that a lie? What prevents them from maintaining the landscaping and picking up the trash? Why are they taking so long to get started on the renovations they claim they want? Why are they attempting to link two separate projects?

By VOS (1169), WHB on May 16, 15 11:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
No work can start until the plan has gone through every process and every approval is in place. That is why no renovations have started.
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on May 17, 15 4:02 PM
If they had not received approval, they would have torn it down. Right? So until they received or were denied approval, why would they have worked on fixing it?

Who said they are "linking" two projects? You seem to be getting some inside scoop that the rest of the town isn't. Or, you just don't really get what is happening here.

Getting the go ahead was only the first step. It wasn't the ok to start work.
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on May 17, 15 9:42 PM
"High density on the canal, a sewage treatment plant off site, less public access to the canal frontage. Only someone making money from this , or someone from up the Island who doesn't know better could be in favor of condos here."
I second this, completely and utterly profit driven, cons far outweigh the pros. High Density housing has NO place on the East End; unless your goal is to have the population density of NYC...
By willi777 (4), Hampton Bays on May 16, 15 8:07 AM
"High Density housing has NO place on the East End; unless your goal is to have the population density of NYC.."

The reason you cant afford to buy a modest home in HB and have too many people living year round in rental housing is because there are no affordable homes. Unless youre very well off or inherit your property you cant afford to live there. Most of my HS graduating class doesnt live in NY now because of these issues. My family would move back if conditions were right but will ...more
By Baymen87 (126), Lugoff, SC on May 16, 15 4:46 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Baymen87 (126), Lugoff, SC on May 16, 15 4:49 PM
NEWS FLASH Not everyone can afford to purchase a home wherever they want to. If anyone wants to live in a high density affordable area Mastic awaits.
By bigfresh (4150), north sea on May 16, 15 6:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
The townhouse development does not include any affordable housing due to the exemptions granted by the Town Board. This is a high density luxury development with private boat slips that had been available to the public who frequented the restaurants. It's my impression that these two bedroom townhouses will be at least one million each... Or more. There's a private pool and clubhouse. Set close to the shores of the Canal only because the Ztown Board granted exemptions--- not anything you nor I ...more
By blue moon (7), Southampton on May 16, 15 9:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
There are houses all over HB between 250 to 300k. If you can't afford a house for that much you are doing something wrong, and not ready for a house. Why does everyone think they are entitled to something
Get off your asses, and work for what you want.
By chief1 (2634), southampton on May 17, 15 7:35 PM
You really may want to seek professional help regarding your detachment from reality...
By Mr. Z (10998), North Sea on May 17, 15 9:35 PM
Those are the same houses that cost $140-200K in the rest of the country. Throw in the property taxes its too much for most people starting out. The houses in that price range are the same houses built in the 60-70s that all need extensive work now.

For all of the high end houses and middle priced houses you need affordable income housing as well. Many states use townhouses to do this too. Otherwise if there is no mix you have the trade parade etc. Im a professional engineer and my ...more
By Baymen87 (126), Lugoff, SC on May 18, 15 11:11 AM
so move to the "rest of the country if it is a better deal ?

whats that you say hampton bays is to beautiful and you don't want to move ???

oh you want to live here but for the same price as philadelphia!

now i get it.
By Erin 27 E (1178), hampton bays on May 18, 15 9:11 PM
The shame of this all is the way the C.P.I. looks.It is an eyesore and it never should have gotten to the point it is.The Inn has a long history.It was once a catering hall and then was turned into a nightclub.And it grew.C.P.I. in the 80's and 90's was the place to be.The owner got tired.He had enough and instead of selling he shut down.Eventually Shaun "Puffy" Combs bought it and it drew the wrong crowd.So he basically abandoned the Inn and it went to crap.It is a shame.
...more
By velcros69 (10), Rockledge on May 17, 15 10:39 PM
Good Luck to the HB residences suing, the PPD law should be declared illegal, why have zoning, if anyone can petition, and /or pay a politician to get it changed?
By tim2011 (16), southampton on May 19, 15 1:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
TIm Zoning cant possibly foresee the future development in all areas. Plans can be changed and projects and or owners revise their plans when the economy changes. Without having the PDD and other similar processes the zoning ordinance would become too rigid and unmanageable. Zoning typically is planning for 20-30 yrs in to the future. Its not possible to get everything right.
By Baymen87 (126), Lugoff, SC on May 19, 15 1:33 PM
Tear the damn thing down. Then there will be no reason to negotiate with these developers.

Btw, don't forget that developers always ask for more than they plan to build. That way, when someone challenges them, they pretend to negotiate down to a lower number. Twenty shops in a Water Mill mall instead of 200, for example. When the developers agree to build fewer units than they originally asked for, the town/village/citizens group think they've "won." Suckers.
By btdt (435), water mill on May 20, 15 8:45 PM
"Tear the damn thing down..." Then there will be no reason to preserve one of the most significant sites and structures in all Southampton and no reason to negotiate state-of-the-art waste management, either.
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on May 21, 15 12:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Plain and simple, build more right on the canal? And our bays are already in trouble. Think about it.
By motly1 (1), Hampton Bays on May 21, 15 4:36 PM
That's right, think about our bays. That's why it is important that there is a water treatment plant! This MPDD addresses the issues related to our bays.

Think about it.
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on May 21, 15 9:52 PM
Good Ground?
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on May 21, 15 10:23 PM
It is positive that some thought went into the wastewater, but I agree with the plaintiffs. This development proposal should be stopped and become a lesson to all developers who don't really care about anything except making money.
Groundwater carrying nitrates from domestic septic systems can take decades to reach the estuary. We already have a big future problem on our hands and I would demand some real progress upfront not just consessions. Let this developer build a public sewer ...more
By deKooning (88), southampton on May 22, 15 7:15 AM
Yes yes punish the evil developer he already has too much $ make him share his wealth after all he didn't build that business it was the roads and the teachers that made him what he is. What a joke. If you want a public sewer system I am all for it , pass a bill and let the residents dig into there pockets and pay for it.

Stop with the evil 1 percent garbage already! If the people wanted to preserve the property so bad then why didn't they buy it with CPF funds
By joe hampton (3297), southampton on May 22, 15 8:13 AM
3 members liked this comment
Because the Rechler's don't care about the CPF, or preserving the land for posterity. They don't want to sell to the CPF. The first thing they did was file a demolition permit.

They want to turn a profit.

Same old ignorant, tired, libertarian, self destructive, primitive argument.


http://www.27east.com/news/article_print.cfm/news/article_print.cfm?id=307534
May 24, 15 6:27 AM appended by Mr. Z
"They want to turn a profit, no matter the cost."
By Mr. Z (10998), North Sea on May 24, 15 6:27 AM
Disgusting...who would possibly want to make a profit. I'm sure you never would Mr. Z
By bb (856), Hampton Bays on May 27, 15 11:44 AM
It is the developers who leave the site as an eyesore, so the community will beg to let them do whatever they want. They could knock all the buildings down and build condos on the west side and restaurants/hotel on the east side with no opposition or change of zone needed. They are trying to maximize their profits, plain and simple. At the expense of the community.
By eagleeye (72), Sag Harbor on May 22, 15 12:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
That was the original plan but there was all this opposition and the save the CPI BS so they changed there whole plan and now you want it to go back to the way it was in the first place ??? Come on stop the BS, game playing and stalling

Sorry Nimbys HB is on the map and Its going to be an awesome place when its done (You are just worried your property taxes are going to go up so you want to keep it down and all to yourselves)
By 27dan (2632), Shinnecock Hills on May 22, 15 6:38 PM
2 members liked this comment
why pay any attention to a person who wrote the following

Humans are overconsuming, polluting and destroying... Perhaps it's not the swans that need to be eradicated..." by eagleeye
Mar 11, 15 1:26 PM

By Erin 27 E (1178), hampton bays on May 22, 15 7:00 PM
How about a Trader Joe's instead? Fill an un-met need in the community for a change! There are already 2 King Kullens within 10 miles of that location." by eagleeye Mar 25, 10 9:15 PM

i love king kullens selection, its wonderful, if you want a trader joes why don't you ask them why they don't come here find a spot and put in a application. seems your argument is with them not the rechlers or mr. morrow
By Erin 27 E (1178), hampton bays on May 22, 15 7:05 PM
Please, what "expense" would that be exactly?
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on May 22, 15 7:57 PM
Why would anyone want to shop at Trader Joe's ? Its so boring and seems a bit unkept. How about somthing nice like a Whole foods or Wegmans
By joe hampton (3297), southampton on May 23, 15 10:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
KK in BH has now expanded their "Wild By Nature" selection a bit. They are price gouging on quite a few items. Must be the "canal tax"...
By Mr. Z (10998), North Sea on May 24, 15 6:31 AM