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Dec 9, 2009 11:48 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Company seeks exemption from Hampton Bays moratorium

Dec 9, 2009 11:48 AM

The fate of a lot on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays is up in the air as a company vies to open up shop there despite a Southampton Town-imposed moratorium that has frozen development in that part of the hamlet since 2008.

The company, Lucky Seven Properties, which is in contract to buy the 2-acre property from a company called Castle Harbor Associates, is seeking to rent a vacant storefront there to a local fence business, Peconic Bay Fence, and use another part of the property to repair and store Dumpsters. The company is pushing to utilize the property even though Southampton Town has frozen all development along the main corridor of Hampton Bays surrounding Montauk Highway while it completes an environmental assessment of the hamlet.

On June 19, Lucky Seven Properties filed an application with the Town Board requesting an exemption from the moratorium, on the grounds that its proposed uses of the property will have little or no impact on the area’s infrastructure and environment. The application states that the Water Mill real estate holding firm does not plan to build any new structures on the property, which is located at 280 Montauk Highway and features a vacant 7,976-square-foot brick building.

But members of the Hampton Bays Civic Association have spoken out against allowing the company to use the land before the town completes its environmental assessment, known as a Cumulative Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will evaluate development in the hamlet and serve to guide future land use regulations there.

The exemption sought by Lucky Seven Properties is pending approval by the Town Board, but it’s unclear when it will be up for a vote, according to Ryan Horn, a legislative aide for the town.

The Town Board has already granted a few exemptions to the building moratorium. On August 26, 2008, it allowed a company called Puppy Mongo to construct a building on a nearby property, at 286 Montauk Highway, because the board decided that the structure would have minimal effects on the hamlet’s aesthetics and infrastructure. On October 28, 2008, it did the same for a Commerce Bank on the corner of Montauk Highway and East Tiana Road.

On October 16, the Southampton Town Planning Board recommended to the Town Board that Lucky Seven Properties not be exempted from the moratorium, on the grounds that the environmental study of Hampton Bays is necessary to gauge its potential impact on the community. A public hearing was also held in October.

As the company awaits approval or denial, the local civic association has leveled some criticisms of the proposal.

At a November 16 Hampton Bays Civic Association meeting, Mary Jean Green, the president, expressed concern over the plan presented by Lucky Seven Properties to store and repair Dumpsters on the site, which she said has the potential to clog up traffic with large trucks, create noise, and even generate chemical runoff if the trash receptacles are cleaned there.

In November, the civic association’s board of directors voted to oppose the exemption application, Ms. Green said.

In an e-mail to Town Board members that was sent on November 20, Ms. Green wrote: “If this exemption is approved, it will undermine the CDGEIS (Cumulative Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement) which is in progress, betray the community and nullify the magnanimous, positive comments which flowed from the mouths of candidates prior to the election.”

In another e-mail to board members on November 18, Eve Houlihan, a member of the civic association, questioned the purpose of a moratorium or an environmental impact study “if exemptions are so haphazardly granted.”

John J. Bennett, an attorney representing Lucky Seven Properties, dismissed the concerns raised by civic members.

“If anything, what that speaks to is the fact that they haven’t read the application,” Mr. Bennett said in response to criticisms.

He commissioned a traffic impact study of the site, which concluded in November that the proposed uses of the property would “minimally” impact traffic on local roads. Mr. Bennett also said that “not one speck of solid waste” will be housed at the site.

“I’m going to make it a productive property,” he said. “I’m going to make some nice facade changes to it.”

The moratorium was first enacted by the Town Board in July 2008, and its original boundaries were extended that August. It accounts for 32.3 percent of the hamlet, covering 2,409 acres.

The legislation was originally set to expire on June 30. In July, the Town Board voted to extend the moratorium to the end of 2009. If it expires on December 31, Lucky Seven Properties will likely not need an exemption. But the Town Board is currently considering extending the moratorium to the end of March, because the environmental impact assessment isn’t finished yet.

At a special meeting of the Town Board on December 4, Jefferson Murphree, the Town Planning and Development Administrator, said that his office should complete a draft of the environmental impact study this winter.

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the HB Civic association should not dictate what an existing business property should be permitted to do, nor should they control a decision on who should operate the property. If the concern is hazardous, then the law enforcement agency for the town will work on the problem. An empty store property is not good, and Peconic fence would be a good business partner for the community. Support local business, they pay property taxes, employee people who live in our community, and support other business ...more
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Dec 10, 09 10:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
No rush,extend the moratorium to the end of March,then if Peconic fence are a desirable business for this are then they will get their necessart planning approvels,,,Thanks Mary Jean and Eve for looking out for us,
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Dec 11, 09 2:59 PM
Vacant run down buildings always look better in a community. People in HB should get their heads out of there --- and wake up.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 11, 09 6:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wait, this is Southampton. Let's leave the CPI the way it is. Let's leave Intercounty the way it is, Let's leave the old North Fork Bank the way it is. And when the tax bill comes due, let's hope the owners cannot pay it so we can take back the property for ourselves. Has anyone on the Civic Association ever owned property? Does anyone in town hall understand the costs associated with their lack of knowledge. A private citizen can't just raise taxes when they don't know what they are doing. ...more
By The Real World (368), southampton on Dec 12, 09 3:01 PM
No lets just let anybody build what they want,wherever they want so the town looks like mastic or route 25 in Centerreach. Most businesses dont care what impact they have on the town, they just want to make money. Do you want hampton bays to wind up overdeveloped like Riverhead?
By jim (48), hampton bays on Dec 12, 09 6:45 PM
Hey Jim, you probably complain about your taxes. Development has to be in balance. But to specifically prohibit anyone from starting a business in a commercial corridor because ten people in the community have the time to show up and complain is wrong. Have you ever worked for someone? Have you ever CREATED jobs.? Have you ever decided what health benefits to purchase?. OF COURSE they want to make money. Last I checked, it still is America, it still is capitalism. If you were around during ...more
By The Real World (368), southampton on Dec 13, 09 8:59 AM
A no brainer!!! A conforming business with new job creation and added tax revenue vs. an empty bldg availabe to vandals.

Maybe the business owners sholud rethink it because they may not be able to light the yard without being criminal.
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Dec 15, 09 7:05 AM
2 members liked this comment
Reading some of the posting is funny. Doesn't anyone remember what was there before they closed? It was a building supply house which operated there for over twenty years, and they had tractor trailers come and make deliveries of sheetrock and insulation which was then shipped out by smaller trucks, all DIESEL, and also had contractors pick up the materials from the store. So what has changed, if a local fence contractor wants to run a retail fence business. NOTHING, its just happen to change ...more
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Dec 15, 09 9:47 PM