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Jun 13, 2012 12:39 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Opponents And Supporters Of CPI Proposal Sound Off At Public Hearing

Jun 13, 2012 1:51 PM

Residents of Hampton Bays alternately blasted and praised plans for an extensive renovation of the Canoe Place Inn property and the construction of more than three dozen townhouses along the Shinnecock Canal at a Southampton Town Board hearing on the project on Tuesday.

Critics picked at the potential impacts to water quality, the increased density of housing in already crowded Hampton Bays, and doubts about the financial viability of the renovated CPI as a commercial catering and convention hall.

Supporters pointed out that the project does not pose a very large increase to the number of residences that would be allowed by right on the canal-side property, and would save a once-beautiful local structure. Both sides accused the other of misrepresenting the truth behind the project’s details.

“The Rechlers will say, ‘Oh, we’re going to renovate the CPI’—well, that brings to mind the song from the play ‘Chicago’: the old ‘Razzle Dazzle,’” quipped Marilynda Vianna. “They’re going to slap some paint on the CPI so they can circumvent the zoning laws. You talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk. You gotta say: no more density in Hampton Bays.”

The project, proposed by cousins and developers Gregg and Mitchell Rechler, calls for 40 townhouses to be built along the eastern shore of the Shinnecock Canal, where two restaurants and a tackle shop now stand, and for the CPI to undergo a $5 million renovation to its main building and a cluster of small adjacent cottages, creating an inn and event venue.

Gregg Rechler said that while the development of the townhouses is his company’s financial interest, the renovation of the CPI has become its labor of love.

“At first, I thought it was more a community benefit that we were doing to get the development rights for the townhouses,” he said of the renovation. “But, to be honest, I’ve kind of fallen in love with the project. It’s going to be a labor of love, and, hopefully, it will be economically viable, because we are a development company, after all.”

The Rechlers’ original plans had been to raze the CPI building and build a condominium complex, but outcry over the historic CPI building, which was built in the 1920s, spurred town officials to urge the Rechlers to find an alternative solution. Rather than building on the CPI property, the developers have asked for a change of zone along the waterfront on the opposite side of the canal, and to be allowed to transfer development credits from another property and from land in the Pine Barrens to allow them to construct seven more residences than the 33 that current zoning on their lots would allow. A waste treatment plant would be installed on the wooded hillside opposite the townhouses to treat the wastewater from the residences before it reaches groundwater supplies.

Tuesday’s hearing was technically a scoping session on the details of the project, which will be the subject of the expansive environmental impact statement that must next be produced by the town’s development consultants, Nelson Pope & Voorhis. The document will likely take several months to prepare, as the company examines a wide range of potential impacts, from water pollution to traffic. The project again will be subject to a public hearing after the EIS is completed.

Critics said the project poses an inherent threat to the nearby tidal bays—a sensitive issue in the wake of recent revelations that pollution from residential septic systems is likely to blame for a rash of destructive algae blooms that have beset the bays in recent years.

“We’re concerned with the wastewater treatment system … it will be three to four times more [effluent discharge] than is typically permitted for a property of this size,” said Jennifer Hartnagle of the Group for the East End. “Considering what the town is doing with regard to water quality, it’s counterproductive to move this along without taking a very careful look.”

Others were infinitely more distrusting of both the claims of interest in the community by the developers and of the Town Board’s own motivations.

“Zoning regulations are in place to be observed,” said resident Anne Wilding. Having them “waived for public benefit sounds suspiciously like a bribe to me.”

“The only benefit is to the Rechlers—we get more density, we get more pollution,” Ms. Vianna added, addressing the board. “The reality is that you have no stake in our welfare—you’re going to all be gone in five years. You’re not going to be here, but we are.”

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40 townhouses?! They should talk to the developers of canoe place landing, they are having a hard time selling those units. So, unless they plan to sell them for approx. $275k to $375k (average cost of homes selling here) they should reconsider their plans. Stuck between the highways and railroad tracks....good luck guys! all the poewr to you, as long as the property taxes are paid.
By 1bigfish (18), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 12 8:59 PM
Ummm....see next-to-last back page of this week's Dan's Papers. There is a big ad for Canoe Place Landing saying "Only 4 left!" with prices starting at $499,000 to $629,000. Open House this weekend, if anyone is interested.
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Jun 15, 12 10:21 PM
Actually that is untrue. The developers of Canoe Place Landing lost their financial backing and were unable to start start the project.

There were those who were interested in purchasing the units but clearly they needed financial backing to actually undertake the project. People do plunk down the entire purchase price of something that is barely past the ground breaking stage.
By bb (852), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 12 11:12 PM
Oops I just realized I thought you were talking about the Allen's Acres site, which was mentioned at the meeting. That is the project without $$.
By bb (852), Hampton Bays on Jun 14, 12 7:22 AM
“The Rechlers will say, ‘Oh, we’re going to renovate the CPI’—well, that brings to mind the song from the play ‘Chicago’: the old ‘Razzle Dazzle,’” quipped Marilynda Vianna. “They’re going to slap some paint on the CPI so they can circumvent the zoning laws. You talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk. You gotta say: no more density in Hampton Bays.”

I'm not even sure what this means. Exactly how do you talk the ...more
By bb (852), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 12 11:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Some research into the amount of campaign donations from the Rechlers to the Town Supervisor and others is in order. Don't you think?
By Woohampton (35), Westhampton Beach on Jun 14, 12 7:06 AM
Why?
By bb (852), Hampton Bays on Jun 14, 12 5:37 PM
1 member liked this comment

On disallowed zoning applications involving waivers and special approvals, the Town Board members should all disclose the amount of "campaign contributions" provided by applicants or developers in the past.

This is an obvious source of corruption that elected officials have not done, allowing them to hide ulterior motives on controversial decisions that are not in the interests of citizens and their community.

If Councilors and the Supervisor wish to vote against zoning laws, ...more
By Obbservant (443), southampton on Jun 19, 12 2:44 PM
Hampton Bays is lucky they have investors with such deep pockets to see a project like this through. i don't know what Ms Vianna is looking at but Hampton Bays is turning into major disrepair. Every other house has multible families living in them, and Main St looks like a Mexico City Bazaar. Why don't you complain about that?
By chief1 (2605), southampton on Jun 14, 12 2:12 PM
2 members liked this comment
C'mon chief.

We wouldn't need their "deep pockets" if the economy wasn't so screwed up.
By Mr. Z (10907), North Sea on Jun 16, 12 12:15 AM
So, you're saying we shouldn't do things to improve the economy because the economy is in the dumper? Come on Z, let's put people to work and improve the town. Chief is wrong as far as what Main St looks like - it has none of the vigor of a bazaar, but this proposal can;t help but work to solve that.
By VOS (1156), WHB on Jun 19, 12 11:52 PM
No, that's not what I'm saying.

The economy is in the dumper because of irresponsible policies that handed cash out to "deep pockets" like lollipops at the teller window. Too hard, too much, too fast, and now we are overpopulated, and overdeveloped. It is idiotic, and grossly irresponsible to have the population density which exists on this island.

I'd almost swear they the Wachowski brothers looked at this place, and that's where the got the idea for Agent Smith's speech.


I'd ...more
Jun 20, 12 12:48 AM appended by Mr. Z
You may want to read Paul Krugman's op-ed piece in the New York Times. Some scathing stuff regarding Greece, the Euro, and American bailouts...
By Mr. Z (10907), North Sea on Jun 20, 12 12:48 AM
A new motel should be built to help allivate the over crowding on North Road.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 14, 12 7:55 PM
Hey that's a good idea. I understand it is actually zoned for a motel.
By bb (852), Hampton Bays on Jun 14, 12 8:26 PM
Nuke the eyesore and let the Rechlers build what the law allows (& no more), without trading on the delusions of the sappy crowd that has some vague idea of a restored Canoe Place Inn. Let it go.
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Jun 18, 12 9:23 AM
"..build what the law allows"...Careful what you wish for!
See SH Town CPI application Pre-Submission Report, particularly pages 23 and 24 for what current zoning would allow.
http://southamptontownny.gov/filestorage/72/837/3269/4030/Pre-Submission-Report.pdf
Maybe the Inn's sappy and delusional neighbors would vaguely prefer the idea of a 98,000 sq. ft. nightclub, for instance, but probably not.
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Jun 18, 12 10:23 AM
"..build what the law allows"...Careful what you wish for!
See SH Town CPI application Pre-Submission Report, particularly pages 23 and 24 for what current zoning would allow.
http://southamptontownny.gov/filestorage/72/837/3269/4030/Pre-Submission-Report.pdf
Maybe the Inn's sappy and delusional neighbors would vaguely prefer the idea of a 98,000 sq. ft. nightclub, for instance, but probably not.
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Jun 18, 12 10:23 AM
My main concern is that the town put safeguards in to ensure that the Rechslers complete the project and don't suddenly "discover" that there are structural or other problems that can not be overcome.

Much of the eastern portion of the building has no foundation and is built on piers. Much of the western portion is constructed of clay building blocks that have been crumbling for forty years. The third floor hallway looks like a roller coaster track due to settling. There are a lot ...more
By VOS (1156), WHB on Jun 19, 12 11:59 PM
Why would they chose to not do the project? I don't see how that benefit them. They spend scads of money to work up plans, etc. do all this foot work and go OOPs didn't know that the floor of this 90 year old building has settled? LOL
By bb (852), Hampton Bays on Jul 11, 12 10:51 PM