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Dec 17, 2014 10:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Planning Board Members Offer Opinions On Hampton Bays PDD

Dec 17, 2014 12:54 PM

Southampton Town Planning Board members offered varying opinions on a maritime planned development district that’s proposed along the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays at their meeting last Thursday, December 11.

Their opinions—which ranged from supportive to cautious—will serve as additional food for thought for the Town Board, which is expected to approve or reject the plan, which calls for the renovation of the Canoe Place Inn and the construction of 37 townhouses along the eastern banks of the canal, at its meeting on Tuesday, January 13. Four of the five board members must sign off on the proposed MPDD.

But first, the Planning Board was asked to offer advice and suggest possible changes. Some members of the seven-member board expressed the concern that the development, if approved, could have a snowball effect, making it easier for other developers to submit similar site plan applications in the future.

“The project runs counter to RWB zoning,” Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said of the proposed zone change from Resort Waterfront Business to MPDD. “We have to emphasize that.”

At the same time, Mr. Finnerty said he likes the design submitted by developers Gregg and Mitchell Rechler, who are trying to secure the change of zoning to permit the townhouses. “You certainly have included a lot of benefits, but the broader issue for the Town Board … has to be the overall planning and the RWB,” Mr. Finnerty added while speaking with those representing the developers, who are cousins.

Just like the parade of Hampton Bays residents who have weighed in on the proposal during recent public hearings, members of the Planning Board also were torn due to the positives and negatives of such intense development along the waterfront.

Philip Keith, another Planning Board member, expresses his support of the endeavor. “From what I see, this is a tremendous improvement from where this all started,” said Mr. Keith, who writes a column for The Press. “The developers have gone a long way to enhancing the public benefit. This looks like a very attractive project and, right now, we’ve got a mess down there.”

Planning Board Vice President John Blaney, however, said he was concerned about the environmental impact of the townhouses that could be built on the 4.5-acre property on the eastern side of the canal. The proposal calls for the installation of an off-site wastewater treatment facility that would be built to the east of the townhouses. Previously, the land was home to two restaurants.

“It does not take into account the RWB and the maritime use that this was,” Mr. Blaney said. “That was not the intention of the zoning and the studies that went into this.”

Mr. Finnerty noted that the Planning Board will support whatever decision the Town Board makes, adding that his board has been following the application closely throughout the PDD process. If approval is granted, the application will return to the Planning Board, which will be able to make adjustments regarding the proposed landscaping, waste management facilities, parking and lighting.

Hearing Set For
Medical Center

The public will be able to weigh-in next month on a proposal that would place three mixed-use buildings on 1.3 acres of undeveloped land in East Quogue. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 22.

The plan, which was originally approved in 2008 and expired this year, calls for three two-story buildings with office space on the first floor and apartments on the second. If approved, the buildings would be constructed on the corner of Weesuck Avenue and Montauk Highway. The land is currently zoned residential.

If approved, the project would boast some 7,100 square feet of office space and five 600-square-foot apartments, the latter of which will be set aside as affordable housing.

In both instances, Hampton Valley Associates LLC submitted the application.

Apartment Building
Concerns Residents

Some Hampton Bays residents are concerned about a proposal to construct a fifth building at an apartment complex on Rampasture Road.

The proposed 2,912-square-foot, two-story building would feature four apartments, according to the application, and be part of a cluster of four other buildings known as the Ramshead Apartments located at 48 Rampasture Road in Hampton Bays. The complex would feature 11 apartments if plans for the fifth building are approved by the Town Planning Board.

The site plan also calls for an additional 22 parking spaces on the property, and an entrance on Rampasture Road.

“My concern is the 22 parking spaces,” MaryBeth O’Neil, who lives off Rampasture Road, said during the public hearing on the proposal last week. “I would like to see the parking up further … I think they should have other options.”

Robert Marcincuk, an attorney at O’Shea, Marcincuk and Bruyn LLP, who is representing the property owner, Jose Araujo of Florida, told the board that the original building, which never had a certificate of occupancy, burned down in the early 2000s. The new building would be constructed on the same spot.

Mr. Marcincuk said his client is also planning to upgrade the property’s sanitary system, but wants to leave it up to the Planning Board to offer a specific suggestion.

Despite the offered improvement, Ray Sheral, manager of the Tiana Bay Estates Beach and Yacht Club, a complex that sits next door at 50 Rampasture Road, said he is concerned about tenants in the new building using one of the private streets maintained by his landowners as a turnaround. The private road runs between the two properties.

“We’re responsible for the road,” he said. “It’s also a seasonal property, so when we have snow and adverse conditions, we kind of close off that piece.”

Dennis Finnerty, chairman of the board, opened a 30-day written comment period following the public hearing that will close on January 10.

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