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Apr 9, 2019 5:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Approves Bel-Aire Motel Purchase, 4-1

Southampton Town Board members voted to purchase the Bel-Aire Cove Motel in Hampton Bays on Tuesday.
Apr 10, 2019 11:14 AM

In a long-delayed vote to purchase the Bel-Aire Cove Motel in Hampton Bays, the Southampton Town Board members agreed on Tuesday to purchase the blighted motel for $1,060,000—and it happened on Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s birthday.

Mr. Schneiderman, the architect of the plan, and board members John Bouvier, Tommy John Schiavoni and Julie Lofstad voted in favor of the purchase. Christine Scalera, the lone Republican on the board, voted no.

Since announcing his original “out-of-the-box” plan last summer to purchase, clear and re-sell the property located at 20 Shinnecock Road to a developer to construct condominiums, the plan evolved to include the potential to build townhomes or even another motel on the property, which has half-acre residential zoning.

Hampton Bays residents voiced their opposition to the purchase one last time before the vote on Tuesday, continuing their plea to purchase the motel using Community Preservation Fund money. By purchasing the property with CPF revenues, residents said the property could revert to its natural state, even offering people a place to launch kayaks or stand-up paddleboards into Penny Pond.

Despite the opposition, when the purchase was put up for a vote on Tuesday, it was no surprise when Mr. Schneiderman, Mr. Bouvier, Mr. Schiavoni and Ms. Lofstad voted for it, calling it an effort to boost the economy through tourism.

Having listened to the many people in the community who spoke against the project during past public hearings, Ms. Scalera had introduced legislation to purchase the property with CPF money, but when it came to a vote for approval, she stood solo on the matter and it was defeated.

The plan evolved into something more than just a purchase of an unsightly property to flip and sell. Now, the idea is to boost tourism in Hampton Bays, which Mr. Schneiderman said has been an ongoing effort, starting with numerous projects along Dune Road.

Projects like restoring the Tiana Beach Lifesaving Station and turning it into a museum for people to learn about rescue efforts along the coast, the raising of Dune Road to reduce flooding and allow people to pass, and the Ponquogue Beach Pavilion restoration, Mr. Schneiderman has said, are all things he hopes will attract tourism to the area along with fishing, surfing and enjoying the beach.

“I believe that communities need to be balanced,” Ms. Lofstad said. “Hampton Bays is out of balance. We have all of these great resources … but we don’t have the amount of seasonal homeowners or rooms for visitors to stay in our town and go to these great places or go to our restaurants. Our businesses need business.”

Mr. Schneiderman’s team put together an urban renewal plan titled “The Hampton Bays Waterfront Revitalization Plan,” that outlines plans to bring tourism back to the area.

The plan also outlines plans for the Bel-Aire Cove Motel property, which board members have said could be used as a model for future purchases for urban renewal.

Just before the vote on Tuesday, Maria Hultz of the Hampton Bays Civic Association asked board members to table resolutions to approve an urban renewal plan and to approve the purchase of the motel property.

Gayle Lombardi, another Hampton Bays resident, opposed the project, saying, “You do not take taxpayer money at risk,” and Hampton Bays resident Ray D’Angelo called the purchase, “optimistically arrogant.”

Still, Mr. Schneiderman and the board moved forward with the purchase.

“I’ve heard what the people have said,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I believe this is to be a short-term expenditure for the town. I believe this will have a happy ending.”

Ms. Scalera said she opposed both the purchase and the renewal plan. One concern she expressed was that if the property were purchased and never flipped, future town officials would have the ability to turn it into anything they wanted. She also said the urban renewal plan did not say anything about relocating the residents who currently live at the motel year-round.

Town Attorney James Burke said the owner of the motel had agreed to pay for the residents to be relocated. He also said the purchase would be able to be amended if the property was used for other than what it was intended for.

“I think the community is very anxious to have something done there, and I can understand that,” Ms. Scalera said to Mr. Schneiderman before the vote. “But I don’t believe that this is the way to go, and I sincerely hope that I’m wrong. I hope that you’re right, because you’ve dug your heels in on this despite a lot of opposition.”

Mr. Schneiderman said using CPF would be the easy way out, but he feared that the property would be left vacant.

“In general, if you want to rebuild the tourism economy, buying and tearing down hotels is not the way to do it,” he said. “We want to get these properties that were once hotels and have become apartments [to] go back to being hotels.

“In this case, I believe this is an important use,” he added.

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By tinboat (16), hampton bays on Apr 10, 19 7:05 AM
will the sale price to a developer be the purchase price plus clean up cost including adminastrative cost or will someones cousin get the deal of the century!
By tinboat (16), hampton bays on Apr 10, 19 7:05 AM
The price will be determined by the winning bid at a public auction. If anyone thinks it will be a great deal for the ultimate buyer, then place your bid.
By Bayman (47), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 10:07 AM
What happens if no one bids? This was the situation on another property they bought. Of course that was a different situation, but the fact remains the house is sitting and rotting because the town doesn't have a plan B.
By bb (862), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 4:08 PM
This property has clear value, there will be multiple bidders.
By Bayman (47), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 6:32 PM
This property does not have "clear value" - otherwise it would have been purchased on the open market. You have no proof that there will be multiple bidders.
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 8:40 PM
Good point. The reason it wasn't purchased on the open market is because the zoning restrictions and permissible improvements were NOT clear to any buyer. The Town will demolish the structure and determine what will be permitted, and therefore competing developers will have a clear understanding of the property value.
By Bayman (47), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 19 8:55 AM
Bayman, you are singing Jay's song. You have that right, but it is not fact based. The Suffolk County Planning Commission staff report indicated that this is NOT a good development site. Community members have been told by an :assortment" of elected and appointed officials that there were buyers interested. The Town Administration could have easily worked with those buyers to have the zoning changed. The Town should NOT be in the real estate speculation business. They can't even manage the ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 19 9:33 AM
How convoluted are the zoning restrictions and permissible improvements that the agency that created them are the only people who can figure them out?
By bb (862), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 19 1:31 PM
First of all it is Gayle not Gail...but I was there. I agree with Councilperson Scalera that I can only hope now that this actually becomes something beneficial to HB. However, it is clear to me that our government is institutionally corrupt that opens the door for financial corruption. Supervisor Schneiderman wanted this from the beginning with a walk on resolution in August. Even though there was no corroborating independent verification that this will more likely than not be a successful ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 8:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thanks Greg for the correction!
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 9:26 AM
Can’t wait to see it torn down!
By HamptonDad (205), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 8:43 AM
Don't hold your breathe. The way that is works (at least for us common folks and not when you are the King of Southampton), is that it can't be torn down until you have the plans approved since the structure is pre-existing non-conforming. Otherwise, it reverts back to the zoning with is mostly R-20 (one-family residential on 1/2 acre lots).
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 8:57 AM
The risk to the taxpayer is minimal; the lot has commercial value equal to or exceeding what the Town is paying. I would have preferred CPF purchase with keeping the lot empty as a natural buffer. (The lot is not suitable for a park, it fronts a narrow back bay that is unsafe for swimming so not suitable for paddle board or kayak launch). But ask any business owner in HB, and they will tell you that Increasing tourism is a worthy goal. This plan could work.
By Bayman (47), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 9:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
Bayman, The risk to the taxpayer is is unknown and infinite. The starting point is $ 1 million dollars. How much has already been spent in man-hours? How many more will be spent? I don't consider this "minimal". We have a dozen or two businesses, but we have more than 5,000 residential property owners that pay the taxes and have to deal with the substandard code enforcement and dysfunctional building codes that caused the problem to begin with. What about them? Does 12 additional "tourist" ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 10:16 AM
This is the worst assault on Capitalism in the history of our country. Government Southampton created a process that no rational developer would touch. So then they go out and think they can do it better. Horrible. Will they follow there own rules of development? At what cost? With their ridiculous processes it should take 10 years (Look at CPI) before anything could get done. This is a bunch of governmental wannabees experimenting with taxpayer money. The CPF should be abolished if the funds are ...more
Apr 10, 19 10:05 AM appended by The Real World
This is the worst assault on Capitalism in the history of our country. Government Southampton created a process that no rational developer would touch. So then they go out and think they can do it better. Horrible. Will they follow their own rules of development? At what cost? With their ridiculous processes it should take 10 years (Look at CPI) before anything could get done. This is a bunch of governmental wannabees experimenting with taxpayer money. The CPF should be abolished if the funds are going to be used for real estate speculation. Horriblle.
By The Real World (359), southampton on Apr 10, 19 10:05 AM
2 members liked this comment
"worst assault on Capitalism in the history of our country"
Dude, you've got to get out more.
By GlassHouses (63), anywhere on Apr 10, 19 10:39 AM
Not really Glasshouses. Government should stay out of the private sector. Period. They already practice economic socialism (private ownership with governmental control) by virtue of certain (key word:certain) laws and processes to thwart entrepreneurship. So what do you call it when Southampton wants to flip property with taxpayer funds? Good Government?
By The Real World (359), southampton on Apr 10, 19 11:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
A couple of points of clarity - the funds will be borrowed to purchase the property - it is not coming from the CPF. Again, I want to reiterate, even though I was a vocal opponent, I hope that this project is successful for the benefit of HB. However, you raise a point about an assault on capitalism. The Town is responsible for the code enforcement process and the zoning process which are the underlying causes of this property being in the state it is in and not selling on the open market for ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 12:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Even if the tow lost some money it would still be a winning project.
By chief1 (2659), southampton on Apr 10, 19 1:16 PM
There is no proof of that. If the current motel turned into illegal full time substandard housing, what makes you think it won't happen again? What makes you think that if they don't get a buyer, the Board changes the use to emergency housing or Section 8?. The use will end up being at the whim of the Board. Yesterday demonstrated that they don't give a monkey's butt what community members say as long as they keep their power base in Sag Harbor and Southampton Village happy.
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 1:20 PM
Lombardi is right... I’m not throwing a party until this place is emptied out and torn down
By bigblue84 (86), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 1:40 PM
Lombardi is right... I’m not throwing a party until this place is emptied out and torn down
By bigblue84 (86), Hampton Bays on Apr 10, 19 1:40 PM
What I dont understand is how the town can use public money, to purchase a business enterprise, ie a hotel without a clear public plan on its use. Seems not to be in the best interest of tax payers. CPF turning it into a pocket park would have been a better use of the public money. So how much will a room at the inn go for?
By North Sea Citizen (528), North Sea on Apr 10, 19 5:47 PM
Christine, only one with sense. Watch the schuffle of money....
By knitter (1656), Southampton on Apr 10, 19 5:59 PM
2 members liked this comment
Please shut down this flea trap/poultry farm. Are they allowed chickens there? I hear them every day
By Moral Dolphin (46), Southampton on Apr 11, 19 1:15 AM
The fact that anyone is endorsing this plan is frightening. All the Town is doing is encouraging property owners to let their property go to waste and maybe the Town will buy it. When 5 and 10 years in planning is "normal" developers stay away. This Town is anti business, anti growth. That's how this Motel turned into this in the first place. They all but killed the summer economy. Be careful all you NIMBY's, you might just get what you wish for.
By The Real World (359), southampton on Apr 11, 19 7:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
I agree 100%. The ONLY reason I was a proponent of the CPF purchase was because the town administration is so dysfunctional that it was the ONLY way I saw a clear ending to this blighted property. As an auditor, I am more concerned about the corrupt process that was used to purchase this property than I am about actual purchase. This type of institutional corruption has ruined the Town of Southampton. To be clear, I am not accusing anyone of corruption, just a systemic failure of the Administration ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Apr 11, 19 9:44 AM
The place has been a dump for years. Registered child molesters have been living there. Tear it down. Anything is an improvement.
By jim (45), hampton bays on Apr 11, 19 5:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
How is Good Ground Park doing? 2019 schedule anyone?
By T818 (11), Hampton Bays on Apr 17, 19 9:36 PM