On Thursday, October 6, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman held the first of the unofficial listening sessions regarding the Hampton Bays downtown redevelopment. This initiative was alleged to be a fresh start of the process in lieu of “tweaking” the annulled Downtown Overlay District form-based code.
But, wait, it was only a few hours earlier that the town planning administrator presented the latest planners’ scheme that was embraced by the Town Board, which looks like an end run around the form-based overlay district. She discussed proposed “commercial cluster” and “mixed use” zoning change initiatives.
She indicated that she was “approached” by commercial property owners who want to develop their properties. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell who the planning administrator actually works for.
Approximately 100 people turned out and about 25 people spoke at the first listening session. Supervisor Schneiderman expressed his disappointment that so many people turned out. He stated that he hoped it would only be an intimate conversation around a table with 10 people. Apparently, he underestimates the residents of Hampton Bays and their concern for overdevelopment and residential and commercial density in the hamlet.
Most, if not all, of the speakers agreed that the downtown needs a “face-lift,” but also clearly stated that there is no need or want for any additional density. They also stated that our finite infrastructure cannot handle the density, especially our limited roadways and related traffic.
Supervisor Schneiderman also mentioned that the firm that prepared the pattern book that was part of the annulled Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District will be preparing renderings of what the downtown would look like under the current zoning.
He repeated several times that people may be suspicious that it will be the “worst case.” In the words of Shakespeare, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” so I do suspect it will be the “worst case.” Whatever happened to the duly approved Corridor Strategic Plan? Where are the renderings for that plan?
Supervisor Schneiderman also refused to commit to abandoning the appeal of the Supreme Court decision that annulled the HBDOD; he stated that he would “take it under advisement.” In my opinion, it is a slap in the face of the residents of Hampton Bays to move forward with the appeal and potentially reinstate the HBDOD.
I strongly urge the community to continue to attend the remaining listening sessions on Thursdays in October, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the Hampton Bays Community/Senior Center. We need to have our voices heard.
One fine body…