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Hamptons Life

Sep 29, 2017 5:12 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Latch Application Seeks 24 Units On 5.5 Acres Of Land

Latch Pop-Up Inn, in the Village Latch Inn property, in May.  DANA SHAW
Oct 2, 2017 3:09 PM

Plans are in the works to transform the historic Village Latch Inn in Southampton Village from a hotel into condominiums while preserving some of its classic features that many have come to love.

The application to convert the property is in front of the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, and the property is owned by developer George Benedict, the father-in-law of former Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, and his partner Steve Dubb. The owners are planning 24 townhomes on the nearly five and a half acres located off Hill Street.

Patrick Fife, an attorney with the Southampton office of law firm Twomey Latham, raised many concerns about the property during a public hearing at the ZBA’s most recent meeting on Thursday, September 28, saying it amounts to 4.6 units per acre, as compared to the Whitefield condominiums next door, which has 29 units on 16 acres—amounting to 1.8 units per acre.

“I don’t feel … this is consistent with the character of the community,” Mr. Fife said.

The applicant is seeking to change the certificate of occupancy from a motel use to a nonconforming condominium use.

The property is currently zoned R-20, allowing for single-family homes. As a hotel, the property was non-conforming, and by switching to condominiums, the property would be switching to a multi-family use, which is still not allowed under the current zoning.

Water Mill-based attorney David J. Gilmartin Jr. told board members the Village Planning Board looked at the application, even requesting a State Environmental Quality Review Act study to be conducted on the property and the project.

The planning board took over as the lead agency for the project in July 2016, and a SEQRA was conducted on the property after a final environmental impact statement was submitted and approved by the board.

In the SEQRA, the planning board stated the project would “create direct and indirect economic benefits to the Village of Southampton and surrounding area.” During construction, the project would create jobs, according to the planning board’s findings, and after construction it would increase the customer base for local retailers and provide significant property taxes.

On Monday, Southampton Village Mayor Michael Irving said otherwise.

“It’s probably going to be the biggest project inside the village that we’ve seen,” Mr. Irving said. “With density, comes a lot of problems.”

He said not only will the traffic increase, but the beaches will become more crowded and emergency services will work harder.

Mr. Gilmartin also said the development would have its own “innovative wastewater system.” According to the final environmental impact statement, the system being proposed includes septic tanks and leaching pools. The document does not mention an advanced septic system with nitrogen-reducing technology. Mr. Gilmartin did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.

The project also requires two area variances. The first variance is to allow for lot coverage of 55,356 square feet instead of the allowed 33,478 square feet, and the second is to increase the minimum area per dwelling. A lot the size of the Latch property allows for a minimum of 20,000 square feet per dwelling, and with 24 residential units, that would require 480,000 square feet. The lot is only 228,417 square feet, which poses a problem.

The owner is also looking for variances with regard to the setbacks of many of the units.

Mr. Fife, who represented many residents of Whitefield, said there were too many concerns with this application, and he asked ZBA members to request more information. In particular, he was concerned about additional sound that could result from the new complex, what type of regulations would be put in place to prevent owners from installing their own pools behind their condo, and what type of lighting would be used.

“Whitefield is willing to work with the applicant,” Mr. Fife said, noting that they just need more details. He asked the board to deny the application as it is now, and to leave the public hearing open.

“Our proposed development is a vast improvement over the current transient hotel use of the property, which has long been a nuisance to the village and its residents,” Mr. Dubb stated. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Zoning Board and Village residents in this process.”

The current Village Latch Inn building—formerly the “Grand Annex” to the old Irving Hotel on Hill Street—and what is known as the Terry Cottage on the property would be preserved essentially as they are. The two existing buildings combined would house five condominium units.

Nineteen new units would be built behind them, toward the rear of the property. Each unit would have its own one-car garage, and two carriage house-style buildings would provide parking for six cars apiece. There would also be additional “pockets” of parking at the site, which is at 101 and 109 Hill Street.

The tennis courts on the property will be removed, and a 20-foot-by-60-foot pool with a 2,200-square-foot clubhouse would be built. Leading toward the back of the property from the clubhouse would be a concrete sidewalk with seven condominiums on each side, and in the very back would be four more.

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Can't anyone build without many variancies? There is no need for a variance when it was bought as a hotel.
Less people, less spending in the Village$$$.
By knitter (835), Southampton on Sep 29, 17 6:12 PM
Beware of these sleepy mom and pop businesses.

Marriot could buy the place, demolish all the structures, and re-build a 67 room hotel, with bar/restaurant/meeting rooms, etc...operating year round.
By aging hipster (124), Southampton on Sep 30, 17 6:25 AM
A decent hotel is needed desperately.
By SlimeAlive (585), Southampton on Sep 30, 17 6:58 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By greenmonster (13), southampton on Sep 29, 17 8:41 PM
I smell a rat
By bigfresh (2895), north sea on Sep 30, 17 2:32 AM
You should all be in jail. No sitting Mayor should be making real estate deals for there father in law and son while under the guise of public service. You are a disgrace Epley and you are the definition of conflict of interest. Let's all praise the fine ethical, morally sound decisions you made as mayor, great job making yourself, daddy in law and little jr very rich. What is little jr going to be charging for rent on his new building that he picked up in the village for about 500k? Will ...more
By icecreamman (299), Southampton on Sep 30, 17 8:32 AM
You have a point except Mr. Elpley is no longer in office! Where have you been the last three mouths?
By JM11968 (65), southampton on Sep 30, 17 10:52 AM
You shouldn't disparage the rich. You charge $8 for a cone.
By even flow (448), East Hampton on Sep 30, 17 4:40 PM
Not even remotely close to being accurate, gut gave me a good laugh, ty

By icecreamman (299), Southampton on Oct 1, 17 8:06 AM
How'd you like to be the required Section 8 resident living on this property ? Here comes Highsmith !!!
By pw herman (655), southampton on Sep 30, 17 11:41 AM
George doesn't get Sec 8. HA
By knitter (835), Southampton on Sep 30, 17 12:59 PM
Wow, this one got buried fast. Nice job on running cover for Epley with these oh so transparent “news stories’. Perfectly normal, nothin to see here. Just a local politician getting rich off the village he was supposed to be Mayor of, all the while having the local paper run stories about all his unethical real estate deals which is supposed to legitimize them and keep them transparent to the public? Disgraceful. How bout a reporter does some real reporting and investigate all these ...more
By icecreamman (299), Southampton on Oct 1, 17 8:18 AM
How about the golden ticket that allowed the surf school to violate village code daily and the police being ordered to let it continue?
By bigfresh (2895), north sea on Oct 3, 17 2:27 AM
2 members liked this comment
That’s how you know they are all dirty, it’s Ocotober 5th and no retort from anyone. Crickets.....
By icecreamman (299), Southampton on Oct 5, 17 7:26 AM
1 member liked this comment
Filthy dirty. Not all...but most.
By foodwhiner (109), Southampton on Oct 5, 17 8:38 AM
The tax assessments on condos are less than half that of comparably valued private homes. We get more traffic, more sewage and not much else. The Latch was not a nuisance, it just wasn't maintained. If they want to change the use, lower the density.
By Clevel4now (2), Southampton on Oct 9, 17 9:11 PM