The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday night rejected the draft environmental impact statement presented by the developers proposing an ambitious commercial and residential project that would span both sides of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays.
At the urging of members of the town’s Planning Department, the board ruled that the environmental impact statement for the proposed renovation and expansion of the Canoe Place Inn and an accompanying waterfront condominium development on the east side of the canal was incomplete. The document must now be revisited by the developers before the town will begin considering the merits of creating a planned development district, a special overlay zoning designation required to free the proposal from current zoning restrictions.
The project calls for the renovation of the historic building into an inn and catering facility, and the construction of 40 townhouses along the east side of the canal, where two restaurants currently are located. The development is being proposed by R Squared LLC, a company formed by cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler.
A memo to the Town Board from Planning and Development Administrator Kyle Collins regarding the environmental impact statement noted that the submitted report did not provide an analysis of and comparison with the proposal of potential alternate uses for the property, including those that would be allowed under the current zoning. It also did not sufficiently address a number of details about the conceptual plan being proposed, regarding grading, wetlands, parking and impact on community character.
“The big things here are, they didn’t give us a yield map of what the ultimate build-out would be, compared to what is proposed,” Mr. Collins said. “They attempted to do that, but it was not adequate—let’s put it that way.”
The rejection of an initial environmental impact statement draft is not an unusual occurrence. Mr. Collins noted that most drafts are deemed incomplete by planners on their initial submission. Mr. Collins said some consultants will simply submit their document, even though it is still a work in progress, so that they can start gathering feedback from town planners on various facets of their work. He would not speculate, however, whether Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, the engineering firm preparing the environmental impact statement for the Rechlers, had taken such a tack with the Canoe Place Inn application.
Engineers for the company could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.
On the basis of Mr. Collins’s recommendation, the Town Board unanimously rejected the document without comment.
“With something like this, when they say it is incomplete, we just send it back,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. “It doesn’t mean the project is not heading down the right road, it just means they’re not ready for our review yet.”
The consultants for the developers will now go back to the drawing board, with a fresh set of notes from the town planners, and continue work on the document. There is no deadline for their submission of the plan, and the work is paid for entirely by the developer.
An environmental impact statement typically looks at a wide range of impacts caused by proposed projects, from traffic and infrastructure issues to environmental concerns and changes to community character.
The plan to redevelop the Canoe Place Inn and construct the condos has been in the making for more than two years. The Rechlers, who had initially proposed tearing down the old inn and replacing it with a condo development, proposed the townhouses as an adjunct to saving and restoring the Canoe Place Inn, which became a cause for some Hampton Bays residents after it fell into severe disrepair. The shift in their plans, although far more ambitious, turned the Rechlers from pariahs to saviors in the eyes of many who had pleaded with the town to save the Canoe Place Inn.
Along with the 40 townhouses, the proposed canal-side development would include a 20-slip private marina, a public waterfront boardwalk and a septic treatment system placed on land on the east side of North Road that is also owned by the Rechlers.