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Southampton Town Board Rejects Tuckahoe PDD Proposal

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Michelle Trauring   Mar 23, 2011 11:19 AM

SOUTHAMPTON—The Southampton Town Board voted unanimously on Tuesday night to reject an application for a special zoning designation to clear the way for a proposed shopping center off County Road 39 in Tuckahoe.

Board members said that the project, which called for a 40,000-square-foot King Kullen grocery store surrounded by retail shops and restaurants, is not in the best interest of the town. The decision by the board to halt consideration of the planned development district, or PDD, application effectively kills the project after more than a year of at times heated dispute involving the developer and residents of the Tuckahoe area and Southampton Village business owners.

“The PDD was not a suitable project in either form or scale and did not fit the area,” Councilman Chris Nuzzi said at a Town Board work session last week. “Bottom line, it represented the wrong project in the wrong area.”

The initial plans for the project, dubbed “Tuckahoe Main Street” by developer Robert Morrow, called for the supermarket to anchor more than 100,000 square feet of commercial space, including a bank branch, several restaurants, numerous retail storefronts and a dozen apartments on the 6-acre parcel just north of County Road 39, near the intersection with Magee Street.

In December, after months of strident opposition from residents of the Tuckahoe area, Mr. Morrow and the property’s owners, Lyle Pike and Lance Nill, unveiled a new design for the embattled project, which reduced the proposed retail space from more than 75,000 square feet to just 15,000 square feet and eliminated the residential apartments and a stand-alone restaurant building.

Even in its scaled-down form, the project drew unfavorable reactions from community members, who voiced concerns over traffic conditions on the busy stretch of County Road 39.

“I think it’s good to be clear that our main objection to this was the supermarket,” Rick Sobervinas, a Tuckahoe resident, told the Town Board on Tuesday night just before the vote to reject the proposal. “A 40,000-square-foot supermarket that all the studies show should not be there. That is why it is zoned highway business there, with a 15,000-square-foot maximum.”

Mr. Sobervinas said Tuckahoe residents, represented by the Tuckahoe/Shinnecock Hills Citizens Advisory Committee, are concerned the project will pop up again in a new form in the future.

The current zoning on the parcels Mr. Morrow and his partners have bought would allow up to four 15,000-square-foot commercial buildings to be built, although town code restricts the types of businesses that could be built to those deemed to have a low traffic impact—offices, commercial businesses or retailers selling goods that are not common everyday needs, like furniture or appliances. Mr. Morrow—who could not be reached for comment this week—has said in the past that he might follow through with a project permitted by current zoning if the PDD proposal was rejected.

When first introduced, Mr. Morrow’s proposal, which mimicked one proposed by another developer in 2008, drew strong criticism from Southampton Village business owners, who feared the retail stores would detract from their business. Mr. Morrow defended the project, saying the placement of the grocery store and essential retail services, optometrists, pharmacies and barber shops in Tuckahoe would ease congestion in the village and help businesses there attract customers. The sort of businesses that he could build on the property without seeking a PDD from the Town Board, like a furniture store, would be more of a threat to the village’s businesses.

The Tuckahoe Main Street application put the spotlight of public scrutiny on the town’s use of PDDs, a legislative tool used by the board to bypass approved zoning on specific properties for projects that are deemed to provide an important community benefit. In the wake of the wave of opposition to the Tuckahoe proposal, the Town Board convened an advisory panel to examine and overhaul the town’s decade-old PDD legislation. Shortly before the vote on the Tuckahoe project, the board held its fourth public hearing session on the proposed changes to the PDD law, which aim to increase community involvement in the early stages of a PDD application and simplify the application process.

The draft legislation reorganizes the protocol for PDD applications to notify communities of projects being considered and bring public comment into the review process at the earliest stages, before a developer has spent months and money on drafting a detailed development plan.

“The goal is to try to bring a process more transparent, more inclusionary and better rounded,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said on Tuesday evening, “and include extensive notification to the effected hamlet and neighbors and bring the community into the process at a very early stage. It would also give the applicant a very clear road map for the kind of information the Town Board and the community in general is looking for to best understand what is being proposed.”

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I hope I am wrong, but this sounds like political theater. Mr Morrow, knowing that PDDs are extremely unpopular, already changed his proposal to a different type of change of zoning request without this vote by the board. If they are serious about what is best for the community the board will also vote to deny the new application.
By dagdavid (645), southampton on Mar 21, 11 7:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
I live year round in tuckahoe. We own a home. My kids go to tuckahoe school. I also own and operate a business in The village. With the new governor looking to cut school aid state-wide, this development could assist in filling any gaps by providing tax revenue without the burden of more residential housing. So many times I've heard people say it would be nice to have an alternate supermarket to shop at. So the big issue is traffic? This is the hamptons...traffic is in our blood. I'd like to shop ...more
By Hamptonized (4), Southampton on Mar 21, 11 8:48 PM
3 members liked this comment
me too .. my taxes have doubled in the last 2 years and my house appraisal came in at HALF of the town's assessment ... tuckahoe school is supposedly 75% spanish ... the house near me, 5 Underhill, has AT LEAST 5 families living there, surely not all cousins like they say ... man if i tried ot pull that off the town would be all over me like im a criminal - dont have any free king idea how they pull it off !!!
but i am sure that this kind of gimmick is killing me and you also.

THERE ...more
By david h (323), southampton on Mar 22, 11 10:35 AM
Yeah, that ten minutes, or less to HB is a REAL killer.
By Mr. Z (6492), North Sea on Mar 22, 11 3:28 PM
Why don't we just change the name to:

"Southlevitthampton"

Kind of has a "ring" to it, don'cha think?
By Mr. Z (6492), North Sea on Mar 22, 11 12:12 AM
2 members liked this comment
HA! like this idea alot .... SouthLevittEruvCondoPermitDayWorkersAtSevenElevenReallyNiceRetirementPlanForCopsHampton
By david h (323), southampton on Mar 22, 11 10:26 AM
If the developer builds according to current zoning the school will still benefit from the extra tax dollars. A recent study of CR39 recommended no commercial buildings larger than 10,000 square feet and the site of Morrow's proposal is zoned highway business - The reason for both? The road cannot handle the traffic. Yes, traffic is already bad, but this will make it worse and much more dangerous, especially so near a school that my children also attend.

Beyond traffic issues, this proposal ...more
By dagdavid (645), southampton on Mar 22, 11 12:16 PM
I'm sure the people on Moses La., S. Magee St., and the connecting streets will simply ADORE the increase in traffic.
By Mr. Z (6492), North Sea on Mar 22, 11 11:05 PM
Thumbs down on the PDD and the change of zone. Every member of this Town Board except Democrat Bridget Fleming has received campaign money from Bob Morrow, but despite that, they have acted in the people's interest regarding the PDD application. Let's hope they do the same on the change of zone request, which seems like an end run forced by the strong defense that precluded going up the middle with the PDD.
By Turkey Bridge (1148), Quiogue on Mar 22, 11 10:07 PM
Glad to hear the board rejected this PDD, but, as Mr. Sobrevinas said, the issue of the grocery store remains. The PDD had already been abandoned by Mr. Morrow so this vote was really more style than substance.
By dagdavid (645), southampton on Mar 23, 11 10:02 AM
Am in complete agreement with "dagdavid" comments. But to serve as a barometer of hopefully enlightened Town Board thinking on PDDs, the true test will be when they are brought forward for other (less "influential") sectors of Town. Specifically: those waiting in the wings (or being cooked up in back rooms) for Hampton Bays --- where seemingly anything and everything goes given unabridged pro-development sentiments still prevailing at Town Hall.
By Rainfall (22), Hampton Bays on Mar 23, 11 2:54 PM
2 members liked this comment
Regardless of opinions on the need for another Supermarket, I think Mr. Marrow went about the process dishonestly. He insulted the intelligence of the entire Hamptons Community (both full and part time residence) when he made political contributions to all the Members of the Southampton Town Board, just prior their vote on allowing the PDD process to move forward. This dishonest, selfish, greedy individual should never be given any, variances, zone changes or other accommodations on ANY of his projects ...more
By Summer Resident (101), Manhattan on Mar 25, 11 10:49 AM
1 member liked this comment

Summer Resident: If you really want to know how outrageous this PDD process with Robert Morrow has been, and how he manipulates it through campaign contributions, just review how he got his Hampton Bays supermarket/ shopping center approved.

The PDD law requires that in exchange for ignoring necessary Town zoning for private benefit, a significant "public benefit" needs to be created. In the case of the Hampton Bays PDD, the purported "public benefit" was the establishment of the Senior ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Mar 29, 11 9:17 AM
2 members liked this comment
[applause]
By Mr. Z (6492), North Sea on Mar 29, 11 9:23 PM
Glad to see it is rejected for now, just b uild a 10000 sq feet little supermarket
that will work and be very hamptony..
By docben (5), bellmore on Jun 2, 11 10:18 AM
"...just b uild a 10000 sq feet little supermarket
that will work and be very hamptony.."(sic)

By "very hamptony" I assume you mean astronomically expensive because the business model for supermarkets, having less than a 3% profit margin, requires volume which requires space.

By VOS (630), WHB on Jun 2, 11 12:09 PM
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