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Mar 11, 2015 12:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Clarity On County Road 39 Traffic Patterns Continue To Frustrate

Mar 11, 2015 12:54 PM

The vagaries of predicting the impact on traffic if a King Kullen shopping center were permitted on County Road 39 in Tuckahoe continued to weigh on the minds of Town Board members following the latest hearing on the project Tuesday night.

Board members continued to ask consultants hired by the developers, as well as those enlisted to check the developers’ claims, how they can accurately anticipate the changes in traffic flows to and around the property if the shopping center were built, and what, if anything, can be done to mitigate those changes. And they continued to express frustration with the lack of clear answers.

An engineer for the developers, David Wortman, displayed a map tracing the growth of residential development in the Tuckahoe, Shinnecock Hills and Water Mill neighborhoods within a three-mile radius of the proposed shopping center, near the intersection with Magee Street. The developer, Robert Morrow, and supporters of the project have claimed that the steadily growing number of residents in the area has created demand for a new supermarket outside the congestion of Southampton Village but closer than the nearest other supermarkets, in Bridgehampton and Hampton Bays.

But board members, who have said that the traffic impacts of the project will be the deciding factor for the proposal and a requested change of zone to allow it, begged for something in the models and formulas that clearly showed the impact of a new supermarket.

“I’d be most interested in knowing how all that directs traffic, in terms of grocery shopping,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. “Whether they go to the beach or not is not so interesting to me. I’d like the traffic engineers to … translate that into traffic patterns.”

Engineers hired by the town and by Southampton Village have said that the patterns and impacts on traffic flow along the congested commuter artery, as presented by the developers, are flawed and have misrepresented how traffic would be affected. But neither has publicly offered a picture of what the true impacts may be.

Village consultant Chic Voorhis, of Nelson Pope and Voorhis, said on Tuesday that he had found many flaws in the traffic projections by the developers, particularly with regard to truck traffic and the impacts on village streets and intersections with Hill Street. Mr. Voorhis said that some of the impacts, which developers say will mitigate congestion, actually will make it worse, by his reading of the models. “There are significant increases in the traffic volumes on the road,” he said .

When asked by board members what mitigation was possible, Mr. Voorhis said it is up to the applicants to find tweaks in traffic patterns, from stop light timing to turn lanes, to reduce congestion.

“It’s not necessarily the case that it can be mitigated?” asked Councilwoman Bridget Fleming. “That may be the case,” Mr. Voorhis replied.

The developers have proposed a 40,000-square-foot King Kullen supermarket, 15,000 square feet of retail or restaurant spaces, and a bank building on about 7 acres of land on the south side of County Road 39, now occupied by a motel and restaurant and a vacant surf shop. The Town Board would have to approve a change of zone to allow the development.

Board members asked that when the project is next up for a public hearing, on March 24, that the developers’ consultants present them with a clearer picture, literally and figuratively, of how traffic patterns will be changed by the creation of a new supermarket.

Term Limits Unlikely

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst on Tuesday night pitched a proposal to impose term limits on the members of some of the town’s regulatory, advisory and licensing boards, but later withdrew it, acknowledging that it is not likely to win the support of a majority of board members.

The limits, and new four-year terms with staggered annual reappointments, would allow for more members of the public to serve, she said, while preserving the institutional knowledge of longtime members.

“When I was first elected to the Town Board, we put term limits on the two land use boards, with the feeling that there was … a need to cycle in some new blood,” she said. “We stopped short of going further to see how that worked. By all accounts, it has worked very well.”

In 2008, the board adopted a two-term cap for members of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, based on four-year terms. Ms. Throne-Holst had proposed extending that cap to the members of the Conservation Board, Licensing Review Board, Landmarks and Historic Districts Board and Architectural Review Board. She had also proposed that alternates be appointed to the boards.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Christine Scalera said that she had opposed the measure, along with Councilman Stan Glinka and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, because she said the responsibility for deciding who should and shouldn’t serve on the boards should remain with town lawmakers. She said she also worried that the alternates, as future members-in-training, would present the appearance of claims on future board seats that could be seen as tying the hands of a future Town Board.

“All this did was enable us to defer decisions on appointments and just rely on the term limits,” Ms. Scalera said. “We’re here to make those decisions, about who should be on the board and who shouldn’t. They aren’t always easy choices to make, but we have to do it.”

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...I’d be most interested in knowing how all that directs traffic, in terms of grocery shopping,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. “Whether they go to the beach or not is not so interesting to me. I’d like the traffic engineers to … translate that into traffic patterns.

“It’s not necessarily the case that it can be mitigated?” asked Councilwoman Bridget Fleming. “That may be the case,” Mr. Voorhis replied.

Classic ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 12, 15 2:32 PM
This project is a recipe for disaster traffic wise. At least the board is asking some questions regarding flow and volume. Window dressing? Perhaps.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 13, 15 12:02 PM
With Tuckahoe Center, it's not just traffic, though the 200% traffic increase on CR 39 and the effect on the side streets may be the worst of the many bad features of this misguided project. It's also the transformation of the Tuckahoe community, the complete trashing of our Comprehensive Plan, and the disastrous precedent that future developers will jump on.

It's one thing to say, as the Supervisor has, that we must look at the Town-wide picture and recognize a responsibility to all the ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 15, 15 11:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
Once again George we share the same view points on the Tuckahoe Center and term limits.

By any account County 39 is a catastrophe. It has been and remains overcapacity before any new destination stops are added to it. Spot zoning is a developer's dream and a politicians campaign finance bonanza. In Southampton it appears that a majority of the Town Board will never see a "spot zoning" application it can deny.

Once the barn door is open it will not be closed. And once a precedent ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 15, 15 11:43 PM
"Once the barn door is open it will not be closed. And once a precedent is established who amongst us believes there will not be additional developers scurrying to the line to create further large traffic destinations."

Precedents do not apply to PDDs since the requested change of zone is at the Town Board's discretion and the TB can simply "elect not to consider" the application.

Nice job with the fear mongering though.
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Mar 16, 15 10:11 AM
"Fear mongering" is kind of a funny way to put it, Nature, when you're talking about a post by a responsible citizen on an issue of great consequence. NTiger and I do not always agree, and he doesn't need me to make his case, but he is a man with a long and honorable record of civic activity in Southampton Town, and "fear mongering" just doesn't describe his comments, whatever else they may be.

Turning to the substance, you may be right to say that precedent doesn't apply to PDDs in the ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 16, 15 1:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
I didn't name call anyone. The fear mongering I referred to was the inference that approval of this PDD opens a barn door that will not be closed, because, "once a precedent is established".

The lack of a precedent is not a "technicality" it is upheld in case law. If in a few years we have an entirely new Town Board, why would they care what PDD's the previous board allowed to move forward?

This may not be the best application - but it's far from the worst and I defy anyone ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Mar 16, 15 2:41 PM
A precedent is a precedent regardless of whether it is a legal jurisdictional one or otherwise.

You chose to harp on one paragraph of my concerns and build a straw man argument concerning the legal effect approval of this "spot zoning" request. (PDD's are the developer's pc terminology for what used to called exactly what it is, to wit: spot zoning.

If you truly believe other developer's will not use this "precedent" then no useful discussion can emanate from it. Any developer's ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 16, 15 3:58 PM
Tiger - thanks for the conversation. We'll agree to disagree on "precedent". Fact of the matter is - the Board has 100% discretion when an application for a PDD (or "spot zoning") comes in and can dismiss it upon receipt without providing ANY reason, with no potential legal ramifications. My comment regarding "fear mongering" is that I felt you were creating an argument that to people less experienced with the ins and outs (and legalities) of government boards, would not understand the nuances ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Mar 16, 15 7:55 PM
You hit the nail on the he'd with your statement "inattentive (and lets be honest, inexperienced) drivers and lax enforcement create a scenario that may lead to unsafe conditions".

Unfortunately a shopping center is likely to attract more inattentive and inexperienced drivers. And if you ever find yourself traveling at 35 mph check that rear view mirror and see just how close the driver behind you is to opening your trunk and sliding into your back seat. There are simply too many on that ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Mar 16, 15 10:09 PM
Sounds like a plan... just remember that neither of your HB grocery store options (Stop & Shop or King Kullen) were built "as-of-right". Good thing past Boards had the foresight to approve them....
Mar 17, 15 9:16 AM appended by Nature
Come to think of it, Bridgehampton Commons wasn't as-of-right either. Boy, we would be hard-up for groceries had these projects not been approved (despite the "sky-is-falling, think of the traffic [and children?] rhetoric).
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Mar 17, 15 9:16 AM
I don’t agree. I think the new shopping complex is much-needed (and wanted) and will not “destroy” anything. In fact, I’ll bet it will lead to a better quality of life for the community, and that any future proposed commercial development on CR 39 would have to meet or exceed this development’s high bar.

Do you think the community is well-served with the corpses of the auto museum, carol’s restaurant, the treasure inn restaurant, the empty boat showroom, ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Mar 15, 15 2:45 PM
Was going to give you a full answer, Rickenbacker, but it would be duplicative of NTiger's comment just above. Check that out, please.

For myself, I'm also anxious to see the input of the traffic engineers.
I just hope none of them will try to feed us frogs the way the developer's guy did, saying the project would reduce grocery-shopping miles/trips overall, but ignoring the massive increase in the specific area of the site until he was forced to admit it. Getting at the truth ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 16, 15 9:49 AM
Thank you. I am very appreciative of the recent comments in this particular article, as they actually look at the issues at play without overarching hyperbole. What a relief. I see and am sympathetic to both sides of the traffic issues discussed here, and admit I am no traffic engineer and would rather the experts get the job done so we can see what’s in the plan. I had heard that the two traffic engineering firms met and were working through issues. The town board even offered more time to ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Mar 17, 15 1:45 PM
PDD or COZ request - either way the TB could have said no without legal ramifications.

For the people against a grocery store at this location - I would like to know where they think a grocery store would be appropriate. How is constructing one on a major thoroughfare (which will accept flow-through traffic, as opposed to being a specific destination) a bad idea? Would it be better to put it in a residential neighborhood?

I'm not so sure this site will result in added traffic ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Mar 17, 15 2:35 PM
Not quite Nature! Hampton Rd. is a cluster of the worst sort during the summer, between the predatory city folks circling for THE spot right in front and the rude tools in too much of a hurry to let anyone out , there is gridlock at times. Putting a mega store on CR 39 guarantees more traffic and accidents, add to that increased traffic on side streets and Hill Street. Do you even live here?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 20, 15 2:03 PM
Please quantify that. Where do all the people who live in Bishop's Pond go to shop for food? Don't they currently use village side streets? We all go to the grocery store. Where are all those additional village side-street-traveling people coming from? They can't be coming from Water Mill, North Sea, Hampton Bays, Tuckahoe. Then, from where? The village? The beach?And why would village residents do that anyway when the village supposedly has such a sufficient set of stores now, according to those ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Mar 20, 15 3:50 PM
Yes, many places thanks, and returned home because of the small town and lack of urban sprawl. Why can't increased traffic be coming from Water Mill, North Sea and Tuckahoe? Who do you think will be using the mega King Kullen? Is it necessary?not at all, driving to Bridgehampton is no big deal. Clogging CR 39 with more traffic is just foolish and dangerous.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 21, 15 10:46 AM
I would much rather make the occasional drive to BH instead of dealing with the cluster **** a mega store will bring.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 21, 15 11:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
I was asking about your claim that village side streets and Hill St would have increased traffic, which I don't see. Shoppers coming from the outlying areas I mentioned won't have traveled to the Tuckahoe Center via village streets. So, who comprises the increased traffic over village streets? I think that is just fantasy traffic that will not exist, assuming village shopping options are sufficient for village shoppers, which opponents seem to think is the case.
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Mar 22, 15 11:12 AM