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Feb 1, 2017 9:38 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Members Agree: Tuckahoe Center Not Likely To Be Approved

Councilman John Bouvier, Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and Councilwoman Christine Scalera have all said they do not believe the proposed change of zone will pass.  JEN NEWMAN
Feb 2, 2017 7:38 AM

A final decision on a change of zone application to clear the way for the Tuckahoe Center proposal is still weeks away, but the four Southampton Town Board members this week all echoed Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s comments after a divisive public hearing last week, saying in one way or another that they do not believe the application will get the three votes needed.

The proposal by a group of developers led by Robert Morrow seeks to alter the zoning on three adjoining properties, totaling 7.26 acres, along the southeastern side of County Road 39 and Magee Street in Tuckahoe. The zone change, from highway business to shopping center business, is required for the proposed construction of a 38,000-square-foot supermarket and an additional 14,500 square feet of commercial space in three additional buildings on the property.

The board will continue to consider written comments on the application until Tuesday, February 7, and will not be making a final decision on the rezoning until at least 10 days afterward,

This week, Mr. Schneiderman reaffirmed comments he had made after the January 24 public hearing, saying he felt the project would not get the three votes necessary for the zone change.

“I do not think it will get enough votes to go through,” the supervisor said on Monday. “I don’t think it has the support.”

Councilman John Bouvier, on Monday, was even more direct: “I think everybody pretty much saw this right away for what it was. I don’t think there’s enough votes for it, and I don’t think the public is in favor of it.”

At last week’s five-hour-long public hearing on the proposal, a majority of speakers spoke out against the rezoning. However, Lance Nill, the founder of the Tuckahoe Center project proposal and a partner with Mr. Morrow, who declined to comment this week, said this week that he believes the audience did not accurately reflect the community’s opinions about the application. That was largely due, he said, to misinformation sent out by Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End.

Mr. Nill argued that Mr. DeLuca sent out a petition before the public hearing in which he wrote that the proposed shopping center would “increase peak hour volume on County Road 39 by nearly 300 percent,” a claim that Mr. Nill said played a large part in the opposition at the public hearing and subsequent concern from the board. “If they’re going to base their decision on the one public hearing, it is not fair,” he added.

Additionally, Mr. Nill said he believes the petition was misleading about the project’s square footage, as it did not reflect the 52,500-square-foot development proposal, but rather the square footage of the entire property. “If approved, this 320,000-square-foot commercial development will be the largest shopping center constructed on the South Fork in a generation and will only serve to further urbanize the East End,” Mr. DeLuca wrote in the petition.

Mr. DeLuca defended the “alert” that was sent out to members of the group, clarifying on Wednesday that the square footage he used was of the general clearing of the property, including buildings, parking spaces and access roads.

“The overall size we’re talking about is the size of the site plan—which is factually accurate,” Mr. DeLuca said. “I spent most of my life as a planner. Reality is scary enough—I don’t have to make stuff up. I think the board knows this, too. They’ve been dealing with me for a long time.”

A separate petition on the Group for the East End website, which does not use the 320,000-square-foot figure, has garnered 443 signatures.

Councilman Stan Glinka noted that at previous public hearings on a larger plan by Mr. Morrow, which failed to gain the support of the Suffolk County Planning Commission in 2015, there were more people in support of the center than there were at the final hearing held in January. But he said he did not believe the opposition to the project at the recent public hearing was a result of any misleading information, but rather general concerns about traffic congestion that the supermarket could generate.

Mr. Glinka on Tuesday said he is still reviewing information in order to make a final decision. “I’m able to decipher facts from fiction,” he said. “People are against the project as a whole. I’m still waiting to see what kind of written response we have—but the proposal is just not looking very favorable.”

Councilwoman Christine Scalera, who stated she was opposed to the supermarket plans when she ran for reelection in 2015, said this week that she has not changed her mind and still “is against the proposal.”

Councilwoman Julie Lofstad said she has not yet made a final decision but plans to decide based on past public hearings, public comments and staff determinations. “At this point, I feel the community is very worried about the traffic situation,” she said. “I personally think, as of right now, the traffic conditions are going to outweigh the need to have another grocery store.”

A 2015 traffic analysis by VHB, the applicants’ consultants, maintains that the proposed project is not expected to attract a significant number of new vehicles to County Road 39, given that there would be access from Magee Street—and in fact says that there will be sections of County Road 39 “where the development of the supermarket will result in a reduction in traffic levels, as trips to more distant supermarkets are eliminated from those sections.” The vehicle miles traveled as a result of the closer supermarket, they wrote in a 2014 version of the analysis, would be reduced by approximately 13 percent.

“If you keep people off the highway, with a shorter distance, less miles driven, less traffic—it makes sense,” Mr. Nill said this week, adding that changes to turn lanes and curb cuts would actually improve the Magee Street intersection.

Ms. Lofstad acknowledged the traffic study findings, but said at the same time she felt Tuckahoe would see an increase in cars, resulting in additional backup along County Road 39 and Magee Street. “Everybody knows it is dangerous,” she said. “At this point I’m falling on the side that there’s a lot of traffic there, and I don’t think it can take anymore. My mind is always open, but I am very concerned about the traffic situation.”

Mr. Bouvier voiced concerns about the validity of traffic studies as a whole. “Traffic studies are notoriously fickle in the fact that they can be gerrymandered,” he said. “The fact is we have a problem there, and if you have something with a huge amount of trip generation … I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.”

Mr. Nill noted that he would be meeting with two of the council members this week, although he declined to say which, to discuss the project, and that he would continue to meet with members of the community to discuss the facts.

He said this week that, if the project is approved, he plans to donate any profits he makes from the center to such entities as the Southampton School District and the Shinnecock Indian Nation during his lifetime, and his children would receive any future profits after his death.

“I put my life into this. I’m trying to do something good for the community,” Mr. Nill said. “I will not live to see a dime of profit of this much needed center.”

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Dear Town Board: if you are just politically too weak to separate fact from fiction, then listen to your own quotes above: if you believe in fairytales and spin, then ignore the traffic studies, one of which YOU paid for. If not, then think about what you are saying, because it sounds to me that, for the next generation or two, you would NEVER approve anything on CR39, since anything in the future that can be viably developed will inherently be additive to traffic. The grocery store is not additive ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Feb 1, 17 11:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
Blah, blah, blah.
The opposition is not the minority; it is the majority. It is composed of local residents who are forced to traverse County Road 39, who are already inconvenienced and endangered by it. We simply say no to an increase in the already existing negatives which this proposal would generate.
Common sense is the only requirement in any ruling that knocks down this unnecessary, nightmare-enhancing, and precedent-setting proposal. Bravo to the board for recognizing the folly ...more
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Feb 1, 17 1:40 PM
Not precedent-setting, not nightmare-inducing, and you don't own common sense. I contend that common sense says you can't keep jamming residential building into an area without the necessary infrastructure to support it. That's a recipe for further sleepless nights.
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Feb 1, 17 2:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Oh Mr Riclenbacker, there you go again. Anyone can see that CR 39 is built out as is, theres no more room for future projects. However would like to debunk one false fact you keep putting out there and that the east end is growing. FACT most of the homes that have been built in recent decades that you sight as growth are second homes not full time residences. The east end is getting to the braking point in terms of building. I implore you to google the population figures for southampton you ...more
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Feb 1, 17 3:57 PM
Frankly, you only need to look at the market data report and the Cashin Associates analysis, funded by the Town, to conclude that your speculation about market size and demand is totally incorrect. However, regardless of how these homes are used, they are not sitting empty all year either. Even many second homeowners come most weekends, which has been true for at least 50 years. I have given no false facts here. You may try to avoid the fact of this residential density, and the condo-palooza in ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Feb 1, 17 5:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
Please, second home owners if they shop at all they shop at Citarellas or Schmist's and lets not forget Catena's. the last place they would go is a shopping center.As far as the year round local they go to Riverhead i hear the town is looking for redevelopment of the Flanders River Side area I'm the residents will welcome Mr Morrow with open arms.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Feb 1, 17 10:42 PM
Please extend and consider your traffic concerns to Lewis Road in East Quogue re the Hills PDD. It is a very real problem that in itself should result in a rejection of the PDD.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Feb 1, 17 11:48 AM
It appears that the Town Board is on the right track and that is great news. The South Fork is like a heart patient with clogged arteries. Until traffic calming and alternative transportation measures are put in place and commuting traffic is diminished on quiet residential roads, cardiac arrest is just a fender bender away. We see it once a week and more often fromfApril-Oct. Let's have the surgery ard let the patisnt recover before anything like this is even considered. Anyone who drives these ...more
By basic1 (12), Southampton on Feb 1, 17 12:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
That is a terrible analogy. How can 5 studies be nonsense? What is your area of expertise to state that you know more than all of the qualified people that worked on those studies? This is not a common sense question. If I look out to sea, common sense tells me the earth is flat.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Feb 1, 17 1:18 PM
Ok, let's go with your metaphor, and add that all the building density and continued residential building is like a chain smoker who refuses to give up. No matter what you do with the arteries, the patient is going to continue to suffer from his own bad behavior. The Tuckahoe Center may be more like a pacemaker, and until we can expand the roadway (which you cannot do with an person's artery), or find ways to manage the bloodflow, waiting and doing nothing until such time as the patient wises up, ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Feb 1, 17 1:22 PM
If you pay someone enough money they will say what you want them to say.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Feb 1, 17 4:09 PM
But the town paid for the Cashin study. Did you bother reading it? I did.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 1, 17 9:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
I was referring to the developers consultants, from up the island. Not the town and the study you are referring to, and if that study was done during ATH's tenure I don't trust the data. As we all know she never met a development she didn't like.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Feb 1, 17 11:07 PM
So, you just invalidated your whole argument, because you can't look at any of this objectively. The point of what's been said above is that every study, every report, every planning analysis, has come out on the side of approving the zone change for the Tuckahoe Center. If one or two reports were in conflict, maybe there would be room for debate on objective facts, but there isn't. Maybe members of the Town Board read these comments, maybe they don't. There is not one single report or study that ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Feb 2, 17 9:54 AM
It appears that the Town Board is on the right track and that is great news. The Sjuth Fork is like a heart patient with clogged arteries. Until traffic calming and alternative transportation measures are put in place and commuting traffic is diminished on quiet residential roads, cardiac arrest is just a fender bender away. We see it once a week and more often from April-Oct. Let's havn theesurgeeyrand let the patient recover before anything like this is even considered. Anyone who drives these ...more
By basic1 (12), Southampton on Feb 1, 17 12:12 PM
Supermarket patrons will have minimal impact to the morning and evening commuter traffic. Grocery shopping will be spread out throughout the day during the hours of operation. I sincerely doubt you will see a great number of shoppers driving to the supermarket during the rush hours between 6 to 9 and 4 to 7 to impact the traffic on CR 39 and Montauk Highway.
By great river (4), southamptn on Feb 1, 17 8:23 PM

All this hyperbole about Tuckahoe, which would actually improve the quality of life in Southampton, and no one has noticed that as of right retail center at Flying Point. 20k sf. At the worst traffic jam on the East End.

Traffic traffic traffic. Sofa king stupid.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Feb 1, 17 9:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
The current crisis exists due to poor planning in the past. The Town, indeed, the south fork has been overdeveloped. The farms and open space have been decimated by economics. County Road 39 and Montauk Highway have limited vehicle capacity - fact, not alternative fact or fiction. Much of the development is second or third homes occupied by weekenders. What would improve the quality of life in Southampton might be an unanswerable question. We don't have enough housing, owner or rental, to accommodate ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Feb 3, 17 10:33 AM
Hang it up Florio, it is over!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Feb 1, 17 9:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
Mr Morrow and his developer friends should go to Flanders/ Riverside area, where they would be welcomed. I'm the town would give him a green light to build what they would like and make a large profit as well.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Feb 1, 17 10:52 PM
to JM11968:


"Mr Morrow and his developer friends should go to Flanders/ Riverside area, where they would be welcomed. I'm the town would give him a green light to build what they would like and make a large profit as well."

Forget it. If you view an aerial map of Flanders, it is apparent that there is no vacant property properly sited for any development of this sort. The only land that isn't excluded by being conservation/park ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Feb 2, 17 12:19 AM
I would agree with you I think that area is a lost cause in more ways then one. I don't think redevelopment can work in the way residents invitation. I find it funny though, that the area of the town that has contributed the least amount of money to the CPF found has a lot of preserved land.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Feb 2, 17 1:22 AM
YEAH! The people don't want that development
By kuali (32), southampton on Feb 2, 17 11:25 AM
NO, NO, NO to the Development!!
By Hillsnbells (43), Southampton on Feb 2, 17 11:56 AM
If this mega mini mall fails to generate no incremental traffic like the developer and real estate agents say it wont ... thenbit will fail from lack of usage
Developer seems to agree that the proposed project in this site will not generate meaningful traffic
They're better off taking their own advice and not even build
By dave h (193), calverton on Feb 2, 17 8:08 PM
First, it's not a mega or mini mall. The point is that there are already grocery store shoppers, Tuckahoe Center will not create new ones but divert existing ones from having to travel on CR39 or side streets to much more distant locations, and back. You point is silly.
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Feb 3, 17 4:29 PM