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Dec 16, 2015 9:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe Shopping Center Will Be A Tough Sell For New Town Board

Dec 16, 2015 11:22 AM

The developers behind a supermarket proposal in Tuckahoe might be forced back to the drawing board, according to Supervisor-elect Jay Schneiderman, who said this week that the project has little hope of being approved in its current form.

The Tuckahoe Center application is not slated to go before the Southampton Town Board for more than a month—at least not until the five-member board is once again complete after a special election scheduled for January 26 fills the seat vacated by Councilman Brad Bender.

But its fate is clear: At least two members of the 2016 board—and both candidates for the empty seat—say they will not vote in favor of the project.

Earlier this month, officials on the Suffolk County Planning Commission voted not to endorse the proposal to build a 40,000-square-foot supermarket and retail complex along County Road 39 in Tuckahoe. That determination means that the Town Board will need a supermajority, or four out of five votes, to approve the change of zone to accommodate the shopping center, rather than a simple majority.

Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman-elect John Bouvier are already on record as opposed, along with both candidates for the empty seat, Democrat Julie Lofstad and Republican Richard Yastrzemski.

“I think it would behoove the property owner to change the proposal … rather than having it get voted down at the Town Board—change it in a way to address concerns the commission has,” said Mr. Schneiderman, who added that he has not made a final decision on the project but is leaning against it. “The commission seems to think it is too large.”

In addition to the construction of a 40,000-square-foot grocery store, the application calls for 15,000 square feet of small retail stores, a 3,500-square-foot bank and more than 200 parking spaces. The Town Board would have to approve changing the zoning of 7.2 acres of land along the south side of County Road 39 from highway business to shopping center business.

Ms. Scalera has been opposed to the project for several months and said Tuesday that her concerns about traffic have not changed.

“I understand there is an argument that people have made that points east and west, beyond a certain radius of the site, could have lessened traffic [with the Tuckahoe Center in place],” she said, referencing a traffic study. “But that does not speak to the convergence of traffic at an already not particularly well-graded intersection, and it does not speak to the fact that our land use study speaks to [promoting] lower trip generation.”

Ms. Scalera is no longer alone in formally opposing the project: Mr. Bouvier, who will be sworn in on January 1, said this week that as the project stands he would not support it, adding that it is too large for the area, and would intensify traffic problems. “If it could be scaled back, I would consider it,” he said. “But anyone who drives that road right now faces the traffic on a daily basis, and I don’t think there is any scenario in my view that would come up with less traffic as a result of a 54,000-square-foot facility. That is my biggest concern.”

Councilman Stan Glinka said he would not make a decision until the final proposal is before him. “It is not fair to the constituents or the developer to speak out of turn until everything is finalized and all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted,” he said.

Traffic aside, Mr. Schneiderman said he is not sure the area needs another grocery store, adding that each supermarket diminishes the small-town character associated with Southampton Town.

“I know the town has done some studies suggesting we need an additional grocery store, but I haven’t come to the conclusion myself,” he said. “It may be true—we certainly have added a lot of houses and additional people. But at some point, does demand for commercial services, like a retail grocery store, mean we should trade our rural character for the same model as other suburban settings? It may not be the right thing for us.”

Mr. Schneiderman also said he was interested to see what the two candidates for Brad Bender’s empty seat think of the project, adding that their opinions may weigh heavily on the future of the proposal.

Mr. Yastrzemski has also been vocally against the project, as has the rest of the Southampton Village Board. “I am acutely aware of the local impact to my current constituents and the traffic situation,” he said this week. “We are against it.”

Ms. Lofstad agrees, saying that while she sympathizes with those who feel the need for a new supermarket, the impacts on the greater region are too great.

“It was about half for the project and half against,” Ms. Lofstad said, referencing a Town Board meeting where the community spoke about the project. “Half wanting it and half worrying about the traffic and safety—those are my concerns as well. I believe the traffic safety issue outweighs the need for a supermarket right now.”

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Stan, stand up and be counted, one way or the other. Don't become a YES man.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Dec 16, 15 10:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Still beholding to Queen Anna's contributors it seems.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 16, 15 12:13 PM
What about 'not needed' don't these people understand?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Dec 16, 15 12:44 PM
1 month from now: yay!! We did it! Let's slap each other on the back! Great job!
6 months from now: man I hate going to the village for groceries. Stop and shop never cleans their store and the service is worthless! Why do I have to go to Hampton bays for basic supplies??!!
1 year from now: man I hate stop and shop such a worthless place. The only way it stays open is tourists and out of towners. No one goes there!
2 years from now: our town is such a joke, we only have one place to ...more
By Inch_High_PI (29), Southampton on Dec 16, 15 1:13 PM
2 members liked this comment
10 years from now .. wow those drones deliver my tp really quickly; I miss those beautiful drives to Hampton bays and even to riverhead because its really not very far and sure is beautiful.
..
15y .. oh man I sure am glad that every single square inch of land isn't condos and mega mini malls
By dave h (193), calverton on Dec 17, 15 8:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
Vote is down and I assure you a better project will come on a better site;
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on Dec 17, 15 2:30 AM
Yes. I'm sure it will. Yay! Those horrible developers will have to go packing!

BUT WHAT ABOUT THIS PIECE OF LAND? Hmmmm.

There are so many options that the owners can implement. And, I guarantee you, they are going to build the one that is least attractive.

Did any of you NIMBY's notice the "Mega" Convenience store being built at SUNOCO? Where were you when the town board met about that? Oh, that's right, its a legal use. No hearings needed... Just like the (3) 14,999 ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Dec 17, 15 7:52 AM
YAZ doesn't want the Tuckahoe project, because of traffic. Meanwhile he is for a sewer system in the village to let the business district expand 50%. Am I missing something?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 17, 15 8:47 AM
Thanks again Erin for another clear reporting of this community issue which is typical of your reporting. But I would like to point out that Bridget publicly opposed this project as is as well, not just Scalera. I suppose proximity to her home in Watermill was a factor, which surely would have been impacted.

What many people don't seem to understand is that this is not simply a Tuckahoe or Southampton Village issue, because 39 is a gateway route to the rest of the eastern Hamptons affecting ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Dec 20, 15 2:05 AM
Traffic in Watermill is going to be affected how?

Just like Barbara Roberts. "Its not needed. No one will go there. The traffic of people going there will clog the East End"

Give me a break.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Dec 21, 15 6:21 AM
Apparently, you haven't heard - the thigh bone is connected to the knee bone. The knee bone's connected to the ...........

Any significant increase in traffic and accidents, fatal or not on CR 39 will no doubt delay the driver who lives in Watermill, even if she wasn't the one involved in the accident. It will no doubt affect the person who lives not only in Watermill, but also drivers from Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, East Hampton, not to mention Hampton Bays, Westampton, Remsenburg, Speonk ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Dec 22, 15 11:35 AM