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Jul 7, 2010 11:24 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town planner defends Tuckahoe planned development district

Jul 7, 2010 11:24 AM

The town’s chief planner this week defended a proposal to use special zoning to create a commercial and residential development along County Road 39 in Tuckahoe, saying the project fits nicely into some sound planning standards, and is similar to a plan introduced by different developers two years ago that seemed to garner fairly broad support from the community.

“This location is in the center of the Tuckahoe-Shinnecock area—there’s lots and lots of new residential development coming to the immediate area, and you have to design the development of services with that future in mind,” Town Planning and Development Administrator Jefferson Murphree said in an interview this week. “Where else are you going to put these services?”

The proposed commercial development off Magee Street in Tuckahoe—a cluster of retail shops ringing a large new King Kullen supermarket, dubbed collectively as “Tuckahoe Main Street” by its developer, Robert Morrow—has drawn flak from various segments of the Southampton community, and rekindled debate about one of the town’s more controversial zoning tools, the planned development district, or PDD. The project would require the special zone change approved by the Town Board to proceed.

Elected officials have scrambled to defend their decision to allow the project to begin the review process, when some say it shouldn’t have been allowed to get off the ground, and others point accusing fingers and level allegations of conspiracy and corruption.

But amid the bluster and posturing of the stakeholders, some within the town’s own Planning Department have not-so-quietly made it clear that they think the project is not necessarily a bad idea.

Mr. Murphree, typically disinclined to comment publicly about projects before the town, spoke last week about the Tuckahoe project, which he supports as a way of providing services, including a new supermarket, to a growing area that needs them.

“Right now, if you want to go to the grocery store in the Shinnecock or Tuckahoe area, you have to go to Waldbaum’s [in Southampton Village] or to Hampton Bays,” Mr. Murphree said. “As a planner, in terms of ‘smart growth’ principles, you want services where people reside.”

Mr. Murphree noted that the Tuckahoe area is going to see a population swell as three large residential developments come to fruition. Some 80 new single-family homes and 75 condos are either now under construction or slated to be built within a mile of the targeted property, about 12 acres near the intersection of County Road 39 and Magee Street.

Two years ago the King Kullen corporation shared a proposal, in which it sought to build a new supermarket on the same property, with the area’s Citizens Advisory Committee. The response, Mr. Murphree and other officials who were there said, was largely positive. And yet the response to the new proposal has been resoundingly negative.

Mr. Murphree said he does not think the change in demeanor of those in the Tuckahoe area is wrong or foolhardy; rather, he guesses that their reactions might be based in some misconceptions, and in the way in which the most recent application has proceeded at Town Hall.

“There’s a misconception that this project has gotten much bigger since first proposed—it’s not much bigger at all,” Mr. Murphree said. “It was originally 100,000-plus square feet. It’s only 5,000 or 10,000 square feet bigger now.

“They took that to the CAC, to the fire district and to the school district, and we didn’t get this bloodbath,” he continued. “They had a page-long list of recommendations—traffic concerns, design changes—but they didn’t say, ‘No. Don’t do it.’”

The “Tuckahoe Main Street” proposal is anchored by a 40,000-square-foot King Kullen, surrounded by 50,000 square feet of retail stores, a bank, a coffee shop, a free-standing restaurant building and a dozen apartments. The developer, Mr. Morrow, also built the King Kullen shopping center in downtown Hampton Bays using the PDD process to secure a zoning change from the Town Board.

While Mr. Murphree said the idea for the new PDD was generated by Mr. Morrow, not by his department, the planner believes the project follows planning principles. In a memo to the Town Board, Mr. Murphree’s department has highlighted key sections of the 1999 Comprehensive Plan Update to the town’s Master Plan, saying that the planning blueprint seems to recommend that such a development be placed in exactly the location of the latest proposal. The memo, penned by planner Freda Eisenberg, interprets the Comprehensive Plan to recommend that the area near Magee Street be rezoned through the PDD process.

In fact, in the portion of the Comprehensive Plan devoted to the Tuckahoe hamlet business area, the plan does recommend the use of “PDD zoning to coordinate development of vacant and underutilized land” zoned light industrial and residential.

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Does this town planner have a name?
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jul 7, 10 5:23 PM
His name is Jefferson Murphree and I'm sure he is taking his walking orders directly from the Supervisor or else he will get his walking papers.
He will be the fall guy and take any heat for her. He can afford to to do because he does not have to run for re-election next year, so course he will defend the project even though it's bad for SH.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jul 7, 10 6:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
PLease ,Do not turn the East End into Nassau County, No more shopping centers are needed.
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Jul 7, 10 6:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
WHAT A DISGRACE...NOTHING EVER CHANGES..NO MORE PLANNED DESTRUCTION DISTRICTS....BUY THE LAND AND PRESERVE IT FOREVER...THIS IS WHAT THE FUND IS REALLY FOR.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Jul 7, 10 8:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
the PDD or MUPDD is supposed to have a public benefit component. Just adding "affordable housing" does not meet that condition as the public have spoken and continue to speak, that they dont want it. Regardless of the chief planners aspirations, the public doesnt want it. I think that PDD and MUPDD should be placed on ballots for public votes
By North Sea Citizen (561), North Sea on Jul 8, 10 6:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
The individuals on the Planning Department are either a) completely out of touch with the people in this community b) in the pockets of the developers c) cozy/friendly with the developers AND in their pockets) a bunch of ___ or e) all of the above

In the end, if this plan is allowed to move forward, the responsibility will fall directly in the lap of the supervisor
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 8, 10 9:22 AM
1 member liked this comment
PDD's are nothing more than a way to bypass existing zoning laws. The "public benefit component" has become watered down and secondary. If it does not already, It should read "significant public benefit". A few apartments above a liquor store do not offer a public benefit.

This is not unlike attempts to wrangle money from the Community Preservation Fund for projects that do not align with the fund's intended use.

Both abuses are significant - stick to the intended applications ...more
By William Rodney (551), southampton on Jul 8, 10 10:02 AM
Two things:

1. The town does not have a Chief Planner. The position has not been held for over 2 years, and was eliminated as part of the reduction of staff/hiring freeze scheme. Interestingly enough, the Press does not list who this chief planner is. Maybe it's a Chief Planner of years past? Michael wright, don't be so lazy - get the title "wright".

2. To everyone who is anti-Tuckahoe Main St., more power to you, BUT don't throw the planning dept. under the bus. The two (2) ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 8, 10 10:21 AM
The planning board members are appointed by the Town Board. To assert that they have no say is simply nonsense. They were put there for a reason and that is to bolster opinions of the board.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 8, 10 11:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
a) The Planning Board has no say on PDD's - they go straight to the Town Board

b) Planning Staff and Planning Board are different. To lump them together is unjust to the Planners who work hard.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 8, 10 12:50 PM
If Mr. Murphree had no say, then why is he making such public statements concerning a PDD that, as you insist, has nothing to do with him? These positions are all interrelated and all work together to ensure developers are well taken care of.

Mr Murphree is CLEARLY speaking on behalf of Robert Morrow and NOT the residents of this district whom he accuses of misunderstanding this scope of this development. No, we understand clearly what is going down. Whether or not this project has grown ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 8, 10 1:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
I didn't defend Mr. Murphree (I haven't seen the article in the paper) nor did I say that it has nothing to do with him. Mr. Murphree is not planning staff - he is an appointed department head.

I don't believe he is speaking on behalf of Mr. Morrow - my guess is he is speaking at the direction of the Town Board who can hire and fire him at will. If I was Mr. Murphree and the Town Board instructed me to say positive things about this project, it would be difficult to say no knowing they ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 8, 10 2:06 PM
I agree that Mr. Murphy most likely represents the feelings of the Town Board, most of whom seem to be ignoring public opinion and siding with the money.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 8, 10 2:28 PM
I just read the entire article in the Southampton Press and Mr. Murphee is clearly nothing more than a shill for big development. His comments show a complete and arrogant lack of understanding regarding what this district "needs". He clearly sees his role as one of approval and not denial and his remarks are evidence of a government gone bad.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 8, 10 10:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
The development is a fate accompli. Now gwt out there and try to find some representation by those who are trustwothy and will listen to their constituents. You know, like obama. Hahahaha
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on Jul 8, 10 1:35 PM
1 member liked this comment

Jefferson Murphree has long been a paid hack of developer interests and the Supervisor in power from whom he takes marching orders. He is obviously articulating Throne Holst's pro-developer, anti-community, campaign contribution tainted position.

Furthermore, Murphree has a gigantic conflict of interest as a Planning Dept. public servant weighing in on many issues that affect real estate development when his own wife works for a law firm that does a lot of work for real estate developers! ...more
By Obbservant (443), southampton on Jul 8, 10 11:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
The conflict of interest goes beyond just that... his wife often times presents applications before the Planning Board. I always thought ethically you were supposed to err on the side of caution and not put yourself in a position where someone could infer unethical actions. Apparently that doesn't apply to the Murphree family
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 8, 10 11:58 PM
2 members liked this comment

Thanks for that new information that reveals corrupt politics and clearly unethical behavior, if true, not only by his wife but by Mr. Murphree who should disclose his close personal relationship with the petitioner (his own wife and his obvious economic personal interest) and publicly announce he is recusing himself from the decision process - EVERY SINGLE TIME IT HAPPENS!

BUT EXPECTING ETHICAL BEHAVIOR FROM MANY TOWN ADMINISTRATORS IS MORE OFTEN THAN NOT OXYMORONIC.

Only ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jul 11, 10 1:32 AM
If anyone from the Southampton Press reads these comments - this conflict of interest between Murphree and his wife's representation in from of the PB - would make a great newspaper article - what an interesting piece of investigative reporting this would be! come on SHPress - step up to the plate, the public really deserves to know what is going on at Town Hall.
By sunshine (47), southampton on Jul 12, 10 9:13 AM
Should read "in front of the Planning Board"
By sunshine (47), southampton on Jul 12, 10 9:14 AM
Jefferson Murphree is not on the Planning Board he doesn't make decisions on the projects that are before the PB. He is the Administrative Head of the Planning Department and his wife going before them causes no conflict of interest as he doesn't vote on the matters. As an Administrator he wouldn't recuse himself as a voting member of a board would.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jul 17, 10 5:34 PM
This PDD will do more destruction than any hurricane we've seen blow through this Town. First Throne-Holst wrote that rediculous Viewpoint to start to soften up the public for their own slaughter, and now her "hired gun" is starting his act of "justification" for what Throne-Holst has essential said will be a mall that "Tuckahoe needs". Tuckahoe residents don't spend enough money to support a mall, so the business has to be "stolen" from Southampton Village and all the businesses in that vacinity. ...more
By Dodger (161), Southampton Village on Jul 9, 10 4:12 AM
Ok, so you're upset about the PDD and what Mr. Murphree has said. I don't blame you, I read the article and I don't see why he said all of that, however...

Before making ridiculous accusations (suggesting the AG office look into it), do your homework. Mr. Murphree has been with the Town long before Anna Throne Holst was in the political scene. He has been in the same position for ATH, Kabot, and Heaney (possibly before - not sure when he started).

Stop spouting rumors and making ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 9, 10 9:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
There was a splashy ad in another east end paper supporting Tuckahoe Main Street. The ad was paid for by Southampton Venture, LLC, whose corporate office is at 34 East Montauk Highway in HB. Anyone know what is located at 34 East Montauk in HB?

On the topic of conflict of interest. A Town Attorney who represents the Planning Board has a spouse who is a real estate lawyer. The spouse is often before the Planning Board with applications on behalf of clients. I wonder how many rulings ...more
By CommonSense (71), Southampton on Jul 9, 10 9:33 AM
34 East Montauk Hwy is right next to Mr. Morrows Hampton Bays King Kullen mini-mall and appears to be home to a number of physicians. A quick search of the New York Secretary of State business records turned up this: http://appext9.dos.state.ny.us/corp_public/CORPSEARCH.ENTITY_INFORMATION?p_nameid=3977092&p_corpid=3425858&p_entity_name=southampton%20venture%2C%20llc&p_name_type=A&p_search_type=BEGINS&p_srch_results_page=0

The names of the folks behind the LLC can be found on the certificate, ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 9, 10 10:32 AM
A couple of posters have pointed out some egregious conflicts of interest of which most of us, including myself, are probably unaware. As Nature pointed out, Mr. Murphree predates Ms. Holst so his former decisions do not automatically become hers. However, as the current Supervisor I believe it is her responsibility to clean house.

Ms.Throne-Holst started off on the wrong foot by taking advantage of the lapse of some campaign finance disclosure rules and some of her recent statements ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jul 9, 10 10:00 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By semi local (18), southampton on Jul 9, 10 11:39 AM
Agreed, no reason to blame the Supervisor, but she needs to come forward and speak out against this unneeded monstrosity pretty soon.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jul 9, 10 2:29 PM
I'm not so sure she will.
By Mr. Z (11550), North Sea on Jul 9, 10 8:43 PM
PDD is nothing but an end around to put whatever you want, on whatever site you want, if you can afford to push it through. Also, you need a bunch of snowblind people running the show.

There is more conflict of interest here than you can shake a stick at, and it must be not only put to a stop, but put so to bed, it's "dirtnapping".

If this goes through, it won't be because the people cried "NO".
By Mr. Z (11550), North Sea on Jul 10, 10 11:13 AM
Well, no sooner did I advocate for giving the supervisor a chance then someone pointed out this disturbingly, misguided quote from an April issue of Dan's Paper.

"Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst offered her views for this article, saying, 'The project represents a valuable and interesting metamorphosis from its original bland, strip mall-like configuration. It is also a commendable effort in heeding comment and suggestions from Town Planning Administrators as well as members ...more
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jul 10, 10 12:43 PM

fcmcmann: Save your breath. you know how the community unanimously feels about this. When you hear Throne Holst in her finest WANTON DEVELOPER-SPEAK TALK ABOUT THAT MASSIVE PARKING LOT DOMINATED PROJECT AS A "VALUABLE AND INTERESTING METAMORPHOSIS" (har, har har), you know the fix is in and you know who is buttering her bread!

So she's pulling out the heavy artillery and making her hopelessly conflicted Planning Dept Head carry her water in the guise of an independent, professional ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jul 11, 10 2:01 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jul 11, 10 2:01 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jul 11, 10 2:01 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jul 11, 10 2:01 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jul 11, 10 2:01 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jul 11, 10 2:01 AM
Is it really necessary to post your comment so many times? Seriously. Your hate for Ms. Holst is a little disturbing, considering she has not been supervisor for very long and the person this article is about was there before her. What you do by acting as you do is make it about her and not the real issue. You end up sounding like an irrational enemy with your own agenda and that does not help those of us in this community who are actually trying to stop this.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jul 11, 10 8:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
I agree with fcmcman, common sense sounds like he is on a rant against Supervisor Holst and not the planned development. Those supporting this mini-mall do not need ammunition against opponents.
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jul 12, 10 9:17 AM
I posted the message once and I am not responsible for whatever software glitches there may be in the system. Happens many times at Yahoo.

As far as this project is concerned, all Throne Holst has to do is say she is strongly opposed to this project and it is dead, what with the avalanche of community opposition! But she hasn't said that has she? Instead, we hear from her praises about the many benefits of this project to the community, which we in the community know is hilarious!

As ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Jul 12, 10 8:47 AM
So, I don't see any dissent in these emails...we all oppose the huge Tuckahoe Main Street mall. Now, let's get out there, spread the resistence and keep up the opposition. Keep the letters coming to the Editor and be sure to attend all public meetings on this subject. Make sure your voices are heard by the Town Board and make your message simple: No Mall Here. You can easily send them an email. Just look at the bottom of the WE SAY NO advertisement in this week's SH Press. All emails are ...more
By Dodger (161), Southampton Village on Jul 12, 10 9:26 AM

Anna Throne Hols:t athrone-holst@southamptontownny.gov

Nancy Graboski: ngraboski@southamptontownny.gov

Christopher Nuzzi: cnuzzi@southamptontownny.gov

James Malone: jmalone@southamptontownny.gov

Bridget Fleming: bfleming@southamptontownny.gov
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jul 12, 10 11:50 AM
It shouldn't matter that Anna Throne-Holst has been supervisor for only 7 months. The point is, the residents are upset (and rightfully so) she said she would oppose anything that people were against. Well it is very clear the people do not want this mall to go forward and get approved. She is finding all kind of ways making excuses for why it's good for SH. She also said that the people wanted another Supermarket.
She did not appoint Jeff Murphree, he was in this position way before her, but ...more
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jul 12, 10 7:29 PM
I just read the "Independent", and just LOVED the full page ad by Mr. Morrow.

Frankly, most of us probably don't care who might be "libelous", or "slanderous" in his regard. The only slander here is this man's vociferous intent to overdevelop our community, so as to line his own already overflowing pockets. There are alot of things we need in our community, like a public pool, and some housing that can be actually be purchased by not only recent generations of local youth, but the next ...more
By Mr. Z (11550), North Sea on Jul 14, 10 2:48 AM
Mr. Morrow uses terms like "libel" and "slander" in a pitiful attempt to scare off his opponents with the hollow threat of law suits. It won't work. In fact, this ad says more about the true character of Mr. Morrow than any slanderer could.

This developer insists on pushing forward despite the overwhelming opposition of those of us who live here. A man of character would listen to the community and put people ahead of money.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jul 16, 10 12:16 PM
You say overwhelming opposition of those who live here, Do you live in the immediate area? Southampton does need a decent grocery store, I don't really think it needs more retail space considering the vacancies on CR39. Maybe instead of seeking to completely stop this project, ways to scale it back should be explored. It is doubtful that it will be stopped, so try to make it bearable.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jul 17, 10 5:40 PM
We have 5 people in this town that can stop Mr. Morrow and those like him. Thats the town board, if only they will vote NO.
By reg rep (408), Southampton on Jul 14, 10 7:36 PM
This guy hired a PR firm from Manhattan.

THAT should tell you something...
By Mr. Z (11550), North Sea on Jul 15, 10 6:55 PM
This discussion wouldn't even be taking place if Waldbaum's would clean up its act and if the Village would allow just one casual, reasonably-priced, family restaurant to move in.
By SusieD (114), Southampton on Jul 17, 10 8:19 AM
Hot Tubs,SALE, Southampton Village, SouthamptonFest weekend