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Nov 11, 2015 11:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Moves Two Zone Change Applications Forward Despite Opposition

Kyle Collins discusses the Bridgehampton Gateway project at the Southampton Town Board meeting on Tuesday. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
Nov 11, 2015 11:33 AM

Two prominent zone change applications took steps forward at Southampton Town Hall this week, though departing Town Board member Bridget Fleming declined to vote in favor of either.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Fleming voted against a motion declaring the mandatory Final Environmental Impact Study associated with the Tuckahoe Center project complete. She maintained there was no way the applicants could have sufficiently answered complaints about traffic and maintaining community character without making vast assumptions.

At the same meeting, she abstained from a vote to schedule a public hearing regarding the Bridgehampton Gateway project, saying that she did not have enough information in front of her to warrant a public hearing, noting that the pre-application report being supplied by the Town Land Management Division has not been finalized yet.

Both measures were approved by the rest of the Town Board.

“The legislative intent in the resolution asks whether the Town Board finds, as lead agency, that the FEIS adequately responds to comments,” Ms. Fleming said of the Tuckahoe Center project on Tuesday, which would require a change of zone approved by the Town Board. “I have spent a lot of time with it, and we have talked about it for many years, and my concern is that the proposal is just not appropriate for the proposed site. So, in many respects, the answers to the comments have to be assuming the conclusion in order to make the argument.”

The bigger vote on Tuesday was in regard to the Tuckahoe Center, which has been before the Town Board for more than a year and requires a change of zone from highway business to shopping center business. Under the proposal, applicants Robert Morrow, Lyle Pike and Lance Nill are looking to build a 40,000-square-foot supermarket, 15,000 square feet of small retail stores, and a 3,500-square-foot bank building, with an additional 200 parking spaces.

While many people support the project, there have been concerns raised over the traffic the shopping center complex, proposed for Magee Street, could create. By approving the impact study, which the board ultimately did, 4-1, with Ms. Fleming casting the lone dissenting vote, the board will wait for comment on the project from Suffolk County officials before casting a final project approving or denying the project in the next few weeks.

According to Ms. Fleming, her main concerns with the project continue to be traffic and maintaining the rural character of the Tuckahoe community. As part of the EIS, the applicants had to answer a series of questions posed by the board in regards to environmental, traffic and density concerns. However, Ms. Fleming said on Tuesday that in regards to some of the questions, there is no way they could have adequately answered them.

“I know it is unusual at this particular stage of the process to be saying that I don’t feel the question answers are adequate, but my view at this point is it just doesn’t fit where it is and there is no way to answer adequately the comments, because there really isn’t an answer for the traffic or the community character,” she said. “I know that at this point many of my colleagues don’t agree, but at this point, I need to vote no on this.”

During the meeting, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said this is not the right time for Town Board members to be making judgments on the project, saying that will come when the final vote is made in a few weeks.

Come January, both Ms. Throne-Holst, who is running for Congress, and Ms. Fleming, who will be moving to the Suffolk County Legislature, will no longer be on the board to vote.

According to Ms. Throne-Holst, adopting the final impact study is a necessary component to eventually move on to approving or denying the project.

While Councilwoman Christine Scalera, who has publicly opposed the Tuckahoe Center in the past few months, said she could understand where Ms. Fleming was coming from, she voted in favor of the study, agreeing with Ms. Throne-Holst that it was better to move the project one step closer to a final vote.

“I don’t disagree with some of the ending conclusions as a result of that, but I think those objections are more appropriately made at the finding stage,” Ms. Scalera said. “For that reason, and in particular moving the process forward, I find these are complete answers.”

Similarly, while Ms. Fleming did not vote against scheduling a hearing regarding the Bridgehampton Gateway project, she did abstain from voting, saying she felt rushed in scheduling the hearing without a detailed report of the project.

The Bridgehampton Gateway property is 13 acres owned by Konner Development and consists of nine parcels. Under the current Southampton Town Comprehensive Plan, it is recommended the town consider a planned development district allowing a mix of residential and commercial use for the property, which is why the town is sponsoring the project and has been working with locals to create a project they consider to be better than what would be allowed under current zoning. The property is zoned mostly for highway businesses.

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, are expected to 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.

While Ms. Fleming said she can appreciate all of the hard work that has gone into this project, which has been on and off the town’s radar since 1999, she does not think it is prudent to schedule a hearing without seeing the pre-application report, which details all of the proposal, first.

Town Planner Kyle Collins defended the move as simply protocol, saying the Land Management Department must provide the report two weeks from the date of the hearing—but it takes a month to schedule the hearing. He added the Town Board will have the report in plenty of time for the first hearing.

A second hearing will also be held on the project in January, when there will be two new members of the Town Board, Supervisor-elect Jay Schneiderman and Councilman-elect John Bouvier.

Ultimately, the board also approved the public hearing, with Ms. Fleming abstaining from the vote. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, December 8, at 1 p.m. in Southampton Town Hall.

“Today, we are here because the code requires that any PDD, specifically a town-initiated PDD, goes through a pre-application process,” Mr. Collins said. “My staff is currently preparing that staff, and the Town Board will have it by the 14-day deadline.”

Rental Law Violator Sentenced

A Remsenburg property owner has been fined $27,000 in State Supreme Court for repeatedly violating the Southampton Town rental laws.

According to a press release issued on Monday, Michael Hurley has been cited more than once for renting his property for less than 14 days, a direct violation of Town Code Chapter 270. In response, the town brought charges against Mr. Hurley, who must now pay the fines to the town or face up to 150 days in jail.

“It is our hope that violators of the town’s code understand that where there are violations that are not rectified, we will prosecute,” Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said in the release. “And we will seek the most significant penalties allowed by the law.”

As a result of the case, Mr. Hurley has also lost his right to rent his property at all in the future.

“We understand that property owners may want to seek rental revenue benefits from their properties,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “But they must do so in compliance with town code. Otherwise, they will be subject to substantial fines and incarceration, and they may lose the opportunity to be granted a rental permit in the future, as is the outcome in this case.”

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... 12 buildings planned in Bridgehampton, is that all? No problem, piece of cake.
By William Rodney (555), southampton on Nov 11, 15 1:39 PM
Does Carvel go or stay?
By thediner (11), east hampton on Nov 11, 15 3:24 PM
Time for our own Political Prostitute to turn a couple more tricks before taking the money and running for Congress.
By bigfresh (4590), north sea on Nov 11, 15 7:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Both very bad ideas.
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Nov 12, 15 6:10 AM
1 member liked this comment

So obvious--in the case of the Tuckahoe development, at least--that it was highly profitable for Throne-Holst and whoever else on the board when any sentient being knows what a traffic disaster it will be for the immediate area and beyond. So much sincere, heartfelt opposition, and all that expression probably for naught. What a shame. May they all find themselves regularly stuck in those traffic jams.
By June Bug (2587), SOUTHAMPTON on Nov 12, 15 3:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Please - not that elitist Throne-Holst for Congress!

She should be required to personally do all of her shopping at the new development once built - which obviously will happen despite the objections of the majority of the constituents.

Will do your own shopping there Anna? Are you still a scofflaw - bringing your dog to the workplace when others are not allowed to do so?

Some ARE more equal than others - right? Please read some G. Orwell.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Nov 12, 15 10:58 PM
Ms. Fleming once again shows why she was the winning candidate. Although she will soon be leaving the Town Board, and is no longer running a campaign (thereby negating any cry of "politicizing"), she votes her conscience, and along with the very valid concerns of the townspeople.

Throne -Holst, with her realtor license and developer friends, needs to push through projects; and, I'm guessing, her back room deals, before she leaves. Beware Southampton. She will be skulking about looking ...more
By Earthgirl (52), Southampton on Nov 13, 15 4:00 PM
3 members liked this comment
"then again, I wouldn't blame the Southampton team for not wanting to bear the taint of a Throne-Holst endorsement."

You may be way too optimistic and unfortunately, somewhat irrational based on history. Gordon Herr, Chair of the Dem Exec Committee, with the Alzheimers team in that Committee, has supported Anna full bore since 2008 inspite of her repeated anti-Democratic positions on those issues, in hopes of getting a plum job, against the ideals and wishes of the vast majority of the ...more
By Obbservant (446), southampton on Nov 16, 15 8:06 PM
Generalizations are hazardous, Obbservant. There are always exceptions.
By Turkey Bridge (1966), Quiogue on Nov 17, 15 11:36 AM
TB, I agree you are an exception in the Executive committee cabal when it comes to Bridget and Anna's capture of the Dem Alzheimers cabal called the Democratic Executive Committee.

But you were overwhelmed, carried no voice, and simply witnessed the political butchering of Bridget led by Gordon Herr and his cabal. That was the worst display of dysfunctional torpedo politics by any group I know that calls itself Democratic leadership since Strom Thurmond turned Republican.
By Obbservant (446), southampton on Nov 18, 15 12:58 AM
Thanks Bridget for speaking up for the community. ATH, Brad Bender and the rest govern on the basis of money especially developers', given to them. They will stick us with a sordid environmental legacy with all these PDDs long after they're gone. ATH will self destruct in the Primary with Calone next year and most Democrats will simply say good riddance and good luck with your new life with your real estate masters.
By Obbservant (446), southampton on Nov 15, 15 10:26 PM
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