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Dec 13, 2017 11:06 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bridgehampton Gateway Developer Frustrated By 'Misinformation' Spread About Her Proposal

Carol Konner PRESS FILE
Dec 13, 2017 11:25 AM

The developer behind the Bridgehampton Gateway project says she is frustrated by a growing amount of “misinformation” being spread about her proposed development on a busy stretch of Montuak Highway.

Carol Konner, a longtime Bridgehampton resident, said it’s been an “ongoing thing” and blames the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee for making misleading statements to the public about her proposal. It currently calls for a gym, called Equinox Fitness, to be built on the 13-acre property across from the Bridgehampton Commons shopping center. The proposal for the fitness center—split over two buildings, one 13,000 square feet and the other 14,000 square feet—is currently filed with the Southampton Town Planning Board.

“I’d love to have an open discussion with [the CAC], but it only goes one way,” Ms. Konner said of attempts to discuss her project with CAC officials.

Pamela Harwood, president of the Bridgehampton CAC, said her civic group does not support any development on the property—any residences or businesses at that site would contribute to the pollution of nearby waterways and further snarl Montauk Highway traffic, she explained.

“Once it’s developed, there will be pollution of Kellis Pond,” said Ms. Harwood, noting that the pond connects with Mecox Bay.

She denied that the CAC spreads any “misinformation” about the project and noted that at the last meeting she invited Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Senior Town Planner Jaqueline Fenlon to discuss the Bridgehampton Gateway project with residents.

Town Planner Clare Shea is the lead planner handling the application but could not make the CAC meeting last month, nor could she be reached this week for comment.

Ms. Konner, who wrote a Letter to the Editor published in the December 7 issue of The Press detailing her frustrations, debunked a number of what she said were rumors that were spread about her project over the years in a recent interview.

Ms. Konner explained that she was never in favor of a CVS Pharmacy being a tenant on her property. She noted that she never signed a lease with the company. “That’s absolutely untrue,” she said of rumors to the contrary, noting that her only lease is with Equinox.

Ms. Konner also noted that it is often misconstrued that she approached the town about applying for a special change of zone called a planned development district, or PDD, to build a mixed-use development—when she said that option actually was suggested to her by town officials.

Ms. Harwood, who also wrote a Letter to the Editor, published in this week’s edition of The Press, in response to Ms. Konner, said that she wishes that the developer would sell the 13-acre property to the town, which could buy and preserve it using Community Preservation Fund revenues.

Ms. Harwood said too much added development is targeting her small hometown. She explained that on top of the Bridgehampton Gateway project, the town is also entertaining an application across the street at Bridgehampton Commons for a T.J. Maxx expansion.

The site plan for that application, filed by Kimco Realty, which owns the shopping center that sits on almost 30 acres, calls for a 17,000-square-foot expansion of the eastern building, which now houses T.J. Maxx, to add a Marshalls. The addition would be constructed next door to T.J. Maxx, which presently occupies about 33,000 square feet of space.

“Both projects are in play at the same time,” Ms. Harwood said, noting that she has to consider the combined traffic implications if she is going to support either project.

As for the Gateway project, Ms. Harwood added that traffic could back up all the way into Water Mill, as people from other hamlets would likely come to Bridgehampton to use the new fitness center proposed on Ms. Konner’s property.

But Ms. Konner stressed that she is not a willing seller and plans to develop her property one way or another. She is hopeful that she will get approvals for the fitness center, noting that it’s an allowed use of the site.

“What [the CAC is] attempting to do is direct the development of property I own,” Ms. Konner said. “That’s what they are trying to do.”

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It is false to say that this developer was stymied by the community in building a shopping center. The proposals floated over the years going back to the PDD were not "as of right" and were not allowable under existing zoning laws. The development plans always needed variances, that's why nothing was built.

The land had long been zoned HB-Highway Business. Health Clubs, and even bookstores and medical offices, were not previously included in the HB designation, although there might have ...more
By BH11932 (10), Bridgehampton on Dec 13, 17 9:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
BH11932 - Your statements are not true and you are part of the "fake news." The traffic patterns are not a problem in that immediate area. The problems are at the lights in Wainscott and Watermill. I know Carol Konner and she wants nothing more than to develop a first class center. I, for one, feel that this would be a tremendous benefit to our community.
By ammills (24), east hampton on Dec 14, 17 12:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
CAC opinions come and go. Their role in the process should be limited. They are the same people that go to Riverhead to shop (probably at a CVS) and complain when their taxes go up due to a decreased tax base. If this keeps up, Southampton Town will have to keep raising property taxes to pay for the increased expenditures inherent in the Town, not to mention the shools. I hope a CVS comes in, Advance Auto, Panera...Residents should be thankful if they do. Pay taxes, offer services. Must be done ...more
Dec 14, 17 8:57 AM appended by The Real World
CAC opinions come and go. Their role in the process should be limited. They are the same people that go to Riverhead to shop (probably at a CVS) and complain when their taxes go up due to a decreased tax base. If this keeps up, Southampton Town will have to keep raising property taxes to pay for the increased expenditures inherent in the Town, not to mention the schools. I hope a CVS comes in, Advance Auto, Panera...Residents should be thankful if they do. Pay taxes, offer services. Must be done smart, but don't keep on turning them away.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Dec 14, 17 8:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
Smart development is development that is legal in Southampton town. The property owner has the right to develop the property. But an owner is not entitled to variances that allow buildings to exceed superstore, environmental, or other zoning laws. Advance Auto is probably legal under Highway Business zoning. Panera is already across the street in BH Commons. A Rite Aid store too.CVS stores in SH & EH along with a new store 3 miles away in Wainscott.
By BH11932 (10), Bridgehampton on Dec 14, 17 2:00 PM
BH11932...Using those as examples only...doesn't have to be those EXACT ones. The point is, the anti-chain sentiment is not healthy. Most "chains" do thorough due diligence before going into an area. Generally, well run and do not go out of business. The CPF has become a crutch for the Town and CAC's to stop any kind of development., PDD or not.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Dec 14, 17 2:43 PM
2 members liked this comment
Chains don't close? In Commons across the street many chain closures: Banana Republic, Childrens Place, Sunglass Hut, American Eagle/another Limited, wasn't there a Victoria secret? Radio Shack still open? Chain stores are not the issue. HB zoning specifies business classifications. If the business meets the zoning classification it doesn't matter if chain or not.
By BH11932 (10), Bridgehampton on Dec 18, 17 1:53 PM
Getting real tired of the idiots that try to dictate what a property owner can do with their land. Literally no downside, no reason to oppose this, nothing legit to back up their claim that the land in question is "precious" and "needs protection"

I hope the property owner builds the maximum size allowable on her property as soon as possible. Really stick the middle finger to the nobodys trying to wrestle control of a land owners land. I really happy to hear that she will not sell to the ...more
By TrueHamptons (33), Sag Harbor on Dec 15, 17 12:38 PM
2 members liked this comment
One thing that is certain is that both towns and all the villages are dying a slow self-inflicted death. Anyone that has been here over 20 years can see the difference. There used to be a vibrancy year round... Now we are a 3 month summer only society. Business can't survive on 3 months of customers. Look at all the current vacant commercial real estate. Anyplace where a Starbucks closes at 7pm and the only thing open is a gas station is a dead town. Even some of the gas stations close at night. ...more
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Dec 16, 17 8:45 AM
Local businesses are thriving on the east end. Where do you get three months? Vacant commercial (retail) real estate is a national phenomena, not a local one.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Dec 16, 17 1:39 PM
The PDD process is a positive thing for the community.
By joe hampton (3461), The Hamptons on Dec 18, 17 8:22 AM
CAC groups offer opinions : they are not to be used as a political blockade -
The owner has "development rights" -
maybe Affordable Housing is a better alternative ? Glad she is a fighter !
To hell with these one way control groups of non sense - I support her
development rights - CAC
-Citizens about collusion - get a life!
By Martin Drew (6), East Hampton on Dec 20, 17 9:16 AM