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Jul 14, 2010 11:14 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Siamak Samii to present to Southampton Village Board on village's opposition to Tuckahoe PDD

Jul 14, 2010 11:14 AM

Southampton Village Planning Commission Chairman Siamak Samii is expected to give a presentation to the Village Board at its work session next week outlining the village’s stance on the proposed commercial and residential project dubbed “Tuckahoe Main Street” on land just north of the village.

A draft of the position paper, dated July 12, is entirely in opposition to the proposed planned development district, or PDD, under consideration by the Southampton Town Board. The PDD would waive the current zoning regulations on a 12-acre parcel of land on County Road 39 in Tuckahoe that currently call for residential and light commercial use to pave the way for mixed use including more than 120,000 square feet of shops, restaurants, a King Kullen supermarket and parking lots for hundreds of vehicles plus residential units.

The report, which is expected to be presented to the Village Board on Tuesday, July 20, notes that local planning departments can better address community needs by identifying and creating smaller commercial lots in specific areas rather than a “retail and commercial development of 122,000 square feet dotted with a few housing units masquerading under the guise of sustainability.”

Both Village Board and Planning Commission members have voiced opposition to the project.

Mayor Mark Epley called for the position paper to be drafted in anticipation of a legal battle over the proposal. “We’ve got to be focused and prepared,” he explained. “We want to have our voice heard. We want it to be organized, well thought out and rational.”

The paper as drafted by Mr. Samii calls for an “analysis of the PDD and its inherent weaknesses” before a discussion on the proposed projects benefits can take place. It denounces the use of an informal survey identifying the need for another grocery store in the Tuckahoe area as a reason for the town’s decision to review the PDD application, noting that the Tuckahoe Citizens Advisory Committee, which had initiated the survey, also has voiced significant opposition to the proposed PDD.

Though village officials acknowledge that local residents have expressed support for another grocery store, Mr. Samii told the commission at its monthly meeting on July 1 that the additional elements tacked on to the “Tuckahoe Main Street” proposal go well beyond what is desirable.

“This is not a grocery store. This is a grocery store at 40,000 square feet, plus another 80,000 square feet of retail,” he said. “Nobody identifies an additional 80,000 square feet of retail as a need to the community.” He also called the project a “Disneyesque” mall “guised as an old Main Street fabric.”

The paper also states that current zoning regulations and possible changes to them should be reviewed before a municipality entertains the idea of a PDD and defines five specific “communities” that would be adversely affected by the granting of the PDD in Tuckahoe: the properties immediately surrounding the proposed site, the County Road 39 highway business district zone, the County Road 39 arterial, Tuckahoe, and Southampton Village.

Regarding the village, it states, “Given that the PDD would permit the creation of a competitive retail center at close proximity to the village’s business district, the impact on retail vacancies and generated shortcut traffic patterns on surrounding residential neighborhoods will be dually detrimental.”

Once the position paper is finalized, the mayor said he expects the Village Board to pass a resolution approving it, and then he will send it to the Town Board and Town Planning
 Board for entry into the official record.

Planning Commission members have also questioned the town’s motivation in moving ahead with consideration of the project. One member, Phil Pape, said the project was an example of “cannibalizing our downtown area” and said he thought that the town officials were making decisions in a vacuum.

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