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Feb 27, 2018 3:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Zoning Changes Would Limit Size Of Commercial Buildings In Hampton Bays

The proposed rezoning of Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays between Springville and Ponquogue Roads. VALERIE GORDON
Feb 28, 2018 10:34 AM

Southampton Town officials are taking the first steps toward rezoning stretches of Montauk Highway and Good Ground Road in Hampton Bays, changes that will significantly limit the square footage of new commercial buildings.

Kyle Collins, the planning and development administrator for the town, said at Monday night’s Hampton Bays Civic Association meeting that the town’s goal is to soften the transition from the hamlet’s commercial district to nearby residential neighborhoods, particularly along Good Ground Road to the south of Good Ground Park, and between Springville and Ponquogue roads along Montauk Highway.

The plan, he continued, is to rezone those areas from highway business to hamlet commercial over the next six months.

Under the proposed zoning change, property owners would be able to construct buildings that are only 3,000 square feet or less; current highway zoning allows structures to be up to 15,000 square feet in size. The zoning changes would not affect preexisting buildings, according to Assistant Town Planning Director Janice Scherer.

In addition, building heights along Montauk Highway are to be kept low to protect the hamlet’s character, according to the Hampton Bays Corridor study approved by the Southampton Town Board in 2013. That means that commercial structures along Montauk Highway will continue to be capped at 2.5 stories, while those along Good Ground Road could not exceed 3.5 stories.

“It does further limit the amount of retail,” Mr. Collins said of the proposed zoning changes. “But it doesn’t say that you can’t have multiple 3,000-square-foot buildings provided you have enough land.”

For example, Mr. Collins pointed to the corner of Rose Hill Road and Montauk Highway in Water Mill where an old 15,000-square-foot strip mall was recently knocked down and replaced with three separate 3,000-square-foot buildings.

Ms. Scherer explained that the zoning modifications will prevent “large mass structures like Macy’s” from opening in the hamlet, unless they are located outside of the proposed rezoning areas. The Hampton Bays Macy’s, along with the King Kullen and Wild By Nature shopping centers along Montauk Highway, fall outside the area targeted for rezoning.

While the rezoning will significantly limit the chances of big-box stores opening in Hampton Bays, would-be applicants can still petition the town’s Planning Board for a special exception permit—so long as they can demonstrate that their business provides a community benefit. Even with such a permit, a business would be capped at 6,000 square feet, Mr. Collins noted.

In a previous interview, Ms. Scherer said town officials are working with Historical Concepts, an architecture and planning firm in New York City, to conduct a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, to begin enacting some of the zoning changes outlined in the Corridor Study. The Planning Department is also in the process of updating an environmental study under the guidelines of the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA.

“First, we have to create the conditions to make it conducive for people to come,” Ms. Scherer said. “That’s the ingredients to what a good downtown is.”

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I can appreciate the math that 3,000 x 4 equals 12,000, does the Town know whether or not the change of zoning and the change of use will create economic revitalization or will it further diminish the ability for potential developers from having a commercially viable property. Under this zoning, the current diner would not be allowed unless it is grandfathered. Does it diminish the value of the properties that are there now .that have viable businesses in buildings that exceed 3,000 sf?
By G.A.Lombardi (551), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 18 7:51 PM
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