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Aug 27, 2019 4:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Second Attempt By East Hampton Town To Head Off Car Wash With CPF Falls Short

The proposed car wash would be built on the wooded lot between the entrance and exit roads to the East Hampton Town recycling center on Springs Fireplace Road.
Aug 27, 2019 5:04 PM

The owner of the tiny parcel of land between the entrance and exit roads to the East Hampton Town recycling center on Springs-Fireplace Road turned down an offer from the town to purchase the property for preservation and is now pressing for an application to build a car wash there to be officially moved forward.

An attorney for the property’s owner, 238 Springs Fireplace Road LLC, said that the town’s offer to purchase the approximately 1-acre lot was not “anywhere near” the value of the property.

“It’s a valuable commercial property with a number of viable, permitted commercial uses, one of which is a car wash,” attorney Tiffany Scarlato said this week. “There had been some feeling expressed by members of the [Planning Board] that this property shouldn’t be developed at all, that it should be preserved by [the Community Preservation Fund]. That got to the Town Board, and they contacted the applicant. I can’t tell you what the offer was, but I can tell you it’s not anywhere near an acceptable price.”

Town officials would not comment on the rejected purchase bid, but the town is limited by the CPF bylaws to paying no more than 10 percent over the appraised value of a parcel — a cap that has hamstrung a number of efforts to preserve lands the owner sees as more valuable.

The town used a similar approach, successfully, to head off a proposal for a car wash in Wainscott in 2017. In that instance, however, the property was in foreclosure, a nonprofit organization pitched in to raise the purchase price, and the Planning Board had already determined that the proposal would require a costly and time-consuming environmental assessment for such a use on the congested main highway.

The Planning Board this month was still considering whether to issue the same “positive declaration” for the Springs-Fireplace car wash, but some members said they did not think it was necessary.

Ms. Scarlato insisted that the Planning Board should find the application for the car wash “complete” and ready to move forward.

The proposal has been before the Planning Board for more than three years and Town Planning Department staff told board members on August 14 that they still don’t have some of the information they would like to see about the project in order to deem it complete.

Specifically, they have requested an accounting of the cleaning agents that will be used in the car wash’s operations and more details about how the liquids from the process are captured.

The application claims the car wash will be “zero discharge,” with all liquids contained and either recycled for additional use or trucked out. Ms. Scarlato said that the regulation of such car wash systems is solely the purview of the state and the Suffolk County Department of Health.

“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this application presents any potential adverse impact,” Ms. Scarlato said. “Finally, this property is zoned commercial-industrial, and the proposed car wash is a permitted use in that district, which means that the Town Board has considered this use and deemed it appropriate for that location.”

The Planning Board remained skeptical and said it would like to adjourn the review once again to allow time to have other town departments offer input about what additional information they think the Planning Board should have regarding the use of cleaning agents and the capture of water.

Residents of Springs have objected to the proposal over concerns about traffic impacts and water pollution.

An attorney for the neighbors and an attorney for an environmental group tried to weigh in on the application at the Planning Board’s August 14 meeting, but were rebuffed by Chairman Sam Kramer. Mr. Kramer said concerns of neighbors and environmentalists could be heard at the eventual public hearing and were not appropriate for a pre-application work session on the details of the coming application.

Attorney Carl Irace, who represents a group calling itself the Citizens to Preserve the East End that also opposed the Wainscott car wash proposal, said that neighbors are “worked up over this” and needed to be heard before the board makes a decision about the completeness of the application. Carolyn Zenk, an attorney and former Southampton Town councilwoman, also objected, saying that waiting until a public hearing would be too late.

“The public have some very pertinent information,” she said. “The problem, Mr. Chairman, is that if we wait for the hearing … the [State Environmental Quality Review Act] determination comes before the hearings so, respectfully, we have to address that now because it will be too late later.”

Mr. Kramer was steadfast and would not let either of the attorneys offer their positions on the details of the proposal thus far.

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The parcel is sandwiched between municipal properties.

Town could acquire using eminent domain--a reasonable way to proceed given the surrounding ownership.

Can't use CPF funds, but can still acquire at appraised value.

Springs residents have to make some noise!
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Aug 28, 19 8:26 AM
And using imminent domain here would be an abuse of the process. There is no compelling public interest in preventing a car wash, an allowed use, on this property. You may not like it but its perfectly legal in this case.
By Baymen87 (133), Lugoff, SC on Aug 28, 19 10:17 AM
1 member liked this comment
Completely disagree.
As long as legitimate municipal use can be demonstrated, it is in full compliance with eminent domain.
In this case, allowing for the expansion and augmentation of the existing municipal facilities.

Also--the car wash is not an "allowed use" but rather special exception/ special permit. A high traffic generator car wash on busy and dangerous SFP Rd. is a high bar to overcome.
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Aug 28, 19 3:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
A legitimate municipal use like a road or sewer line extension is necessary to required for eminent domain to be applied. You're asking for something you personally don't approve of to be prevented. There is a higher standard for this.

The heavy handed "Not in my Backyard" approach is why the east end will never grow to its economic potential and remain a bedroom community for entitled elites and those elite wannabes.

By Baymen87 (133), Lugoff, SC on Aug 29, 19 8:52 AM
Bounced the concept off a friend who specializes in this area of law,
and given the surrounding municipal ownership would be perfectly appropriate and easily withstand judicial review.

As far as the East End not achieving its “economical potential”, I guess we could modify the local “heavy handed” approach, and morph into one of those thriving communities you long for...like Medford perhaps?
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 12:16 PM
You have a long history of comments disparaging the communities of people who actually produce, rather than living luxuriously, as you do, thanks to the sweat of others.

Typical Hampton's leftist. Espouses every socialist value, pretends to embody moral enlightenment but really, deep down has nothing but contempt for those "beneath" them.
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Sep 1, 19 12:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
Once again, trying to use CPF to impede business.
By Draggerman (940), Southampton on Aug 28, 19 10:05 AM
3 members liked this comment
Zoned commercial??? DAH???
By knitter (1895), Southampton on Aug 28, 19 1:20 PM
Since when is CPF money being used for stopping development? It was sold as a mechanism to buy trails and open space not one acre commercial lots
By chief1 (2783), southampton on Aug 28, 19 10:05 PM
CPF funds can't be used for eminent domain acquisitions.

No one is suggesting it can
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Aug 29, 19 8:02 AM
Just build a small police kiosk on the exit of the carwash and let the car wash owner know that every car will be checked for proper license, registration, inspection and insurance. All undocumented and expired permits and unpaid prior motor vehicle fines and personal summons will result in cars being impounded. All the car wash employees will be checked for proper documentation allowing them to work in the US and their identities checked against existing databases for any detainer requests by ...more
By dfree (802), hampton bays on Sep 2, 19 1:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
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