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Oct 19, 2016 12:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Canoe Place Inn Project Nears Final Approval

Canoe Place Inn Architect Scott Pollack showing the landscape plan. JEN NEWMAN
Oct 19, 2016 12:55 PM

The Southampton Town Planning Board has closed public hearings on a plan to renovate the old Canoe Place Inn in Hampton Bays and build 37 townhouses on the eastern bank of the Shinnecock Canal, but it will continue to accept written comments until the middle of November.

Because there was a large amount of written correspondence about the proposal, the board decided at its hearing last Thursday, October 13, to continue to accept emails and letters. “We do appreciate your input,” Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty told audience members at that time. “We hear your concerns.”

The board needs to act on the project within 62 days of the hearing. Mr. Finnerty said the board’s decision—the final step for the project’s approval—will depend on advisory reports and continued public input. The three actions the board can take are approval, denial or approval with modifications.

“The Town Board’s approval required them to get Planning Board approval as well,” Mr. Finnerty said, referring to the developers’ attempt, which was successful, to obtain planned development district, or PDD, status for the project, which allows increased density in exchange for community benefits.

“It is a redundancy,” he said. “We are fine-tuning some of the broader issues that were left open.”

The developers, Gregg and Mitchell Rechler of Rechler Equity, have proposed building 37 townhouses in seven buildings, as well as a private pool with a 1,900-square-foot clubhouse, a 17-slip private marina, and a public viewing and fishing platform on a 4.56-acre parcel that overlooks the eastern bank of the canal. There would also be 74 parking spaces for the homes and five for the public; the developer also reserves the right to add 19 parking spaces at a later date.

The Town Board signed off on the project in January 2015, approving the 37 townhouses on the canal’s eastern shoreline and a plan to redevelop the original Canoe Place Inn so that it can reopen as a 25-room inn with guest cottages. A 300-seat catering hall also is planned for the 5.6-acre property just west of the canal.

The recent Planning Board hearing specifically addressed a portion of the project that includes plans to clear vegetation and construct an off-site “Nitrex” wastewater treatment facility on a small third parcel to the east of the eastern property. The facility, which would be installed on North Road and adjacent to an existing residential neighborhood, would treat septic waste from the townhouses.

This portion of the plan ties into a lawsuit filed last year by a group of residents, called Shinnecock Neighbors, who have voiced opposition to the townhouse component of the project, more specifically the installation of a sewage treatment facility in their neighborhood. In September, a judge ruled that the lawsuit challenging the Town Board’s 2015 approval of the Canoe Place Inn PDD can move forward.

Shinnecock Neighbors also argue that the project creates too much density on the 4.5-acre property. Rita Knox, one of the many plaintiffs in the suit, and who attended the recent public hearing, said she expects a judge to make a consideration on the lawsuit at the end of the month. The suit argues that state environmental law prohibits benefiting a builder at the expense of the community.

“I live 500 feet from the leaching pool,” she said at the public hearing. “I am especially concerned.”

Despite the litigation, Mr. Finnerty said he does not anticipate the board making any major alterations to the plan unless any new major issue surfaces. Possible modifications may include landscaping, lighting and alterations to access points—but hearings on major issues like water quality and transportation have been closed for over a year, according to Mr. Finnerty.

“Throughout our review so far we haven’t come across any issues that would warrant a significant revision of the plan,” he said.

However, members of the public, as well as the Shinnecock Neighbors, have continued to bring up concerns about increased truck and construction traffic.

Written public input may be submitted to the Planning Board until November 12.

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Start building already! Let's get this done.
By HamptonDad (205), Hampton Bays on Oct 20, 16 8:48 PM
I can't wait for the project to begin. Every entrance into Hamptons Bays is dilapidated or empty buildings. Finally some money is coming to Hamptons Bays!!
By Hampton Bays resident (4), Hampton Bays on Oct 21, 16 3:22 PM
4 members liked this comment
When will the Town and developers address the situation that at least one of the proposed townhouse buildings is substantially on county owned property? The building on the far left in the photo above is located on what was the approach to the old Montauk Highway bridge over the canal. There has been nothing presented to indicate that the county has transferred ownership of this property and nothing to indicate there has been a transfer of property west of North Road in the realignment shown to ...more
By VOS (1173), WHB on Oct 30, 16 12:18 AM