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Jan 6, 2010 11:36 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town extends Hampton Bays moratorium

Jan 6, 2010 11:36 AM

The Hampton Bays Civic Association rejoiced at the news that the 18-month-old moratorium in Southampton Town’s most populous hamlet will be extended for three more months, until March 31.

The Town Board passed a resolution to extend the building ban by a vote of three to two in late December, with Town Board member Nancy Graboski and then-Supervisor Linda Kabot dissenting.

“Under the circumstances, at the time it was extended, it was a good thing because the study was not complete because of the deficiencies of the town process,” said Mary Jean Green, the president of the Hampton Bays Civic Association. “Now they have the opportunity to complete it and can be done in the next three months.”

Both Ms. Graboski and Ms. Kabot proposed an alternate moratorium, one that targeted motel or hotel to condominium conversions and planned development districts, such as a commercial and residential complex on Montauk Highway called Tiana Commons. Their idea, however, garnered little support from the civic association or the other Town Board members.

Ms. Kabot decried the moratorium extension, explaining that the building ban, which prohibits anyone from moving forward on new subdivisions, site plans, zoning variances and special exception permits, should be implemented only in dire emergencies.

“Moratoriums are a major police power of the town,” she said. “We’ve had a moratorium for almost two years.”

Developers who want to demolish the Canoe Place Inn and build condominiums in its place filed a notice of claim, the precursor to a lawsuit, against the town over the moratorium in late September. Gregg Rechler, owner of R Squared HB LLC and his cousin, Mitchell Rechler, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday that the moratorium is “legally wrong and as a result we will seek a declaration of its illegality in court.”

“The building moratorium is now exceeding a two-year period, so clearly the town’s goal is to simply stop a development,” Mr. Rechler wrote. “The moratorium has substantially damaged the value of our property and has damaged both us and our partners.”

Mr. Rechler’s attorney, Bill Esseks of Esseks, Hefter & Angel, said that he would be filing a lawsuit regarding the moratorium within the coming weeks.

“I have been directed to bring an action to have it determined that the moratorium is impermissible in length,” Mr. Esseks said.

The moratorium in Hampton Bays, which targets the commercial corridor along Montauk Highway, has been in place since June 2008 and was enacted by the Town Board so that planners and consultants could study the density, environmental, and traffic issues residents say plague the hamlet. So far, more than $100,000 has been spent on all of the studies, according to Assistant Town Planning and Development Administrator Freda Eisenberg. Cashin Associates of Hauppauge is doing most of the work, with the help of town employees, she noted.

Additional traffic studies and town employee time spent on the draft generic environmental impact statement, commonly known as the DGEIS, add to the cost of the entire project, Ms. Eisenberg said this week.

Eve Houlihan, a member of the Hampton Bays Civic Association, took to the podium during the meeting to urge a moratorium extension. She said the incomplete DGEIS is reason enough to extend the ban.

“That fact alone makes it self-evident that we need an extension,” Ms. Houlihan said. “It is vexing that we must plead for fair treatment.”

Al Algieri, the president of the East Quogue Civic Association, also asked the Town Board to extend the Hampton Bays moratorium. The Town Board enacted a moratorium in East Quogue that lasted for 18 months.

“Let’s make it end in another 90 days,” Mr. Algieri said.

During the late December meeting, then Supervisor-elect Ms. Throne-Holst emphasized that the three-month extension was necessary because the DGEIS on the hamlet was not complete. At the meeting, Ms. Eisenberg said the DGEIS would be completed the week of January 11. When complete, it will include recommendations for zoning and land use changes, a comprehensive traffic study, an analysis of the hamlet’s socioeconomic makeup and current community character and community facilities.

“There are a prescribed set of contents for a GEIS that complies with the state,” Ms. Eisenberg said. “It’s a hefty document.”

Ms. Throne-Holst said that she believes that the need for another extension—a six-month one was granted in the summer—proves that it is unrealistic to expect that Southampton Town can complete such studies in one year, the original length of the Hampton Bays moratorium.

“We do not have the manpower to get these done in one year,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

Ms. Throne-Holst also explained to those opposed to the extension that the town allows exemptions to the moratorium.

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"The moratorium was scheduled to end on December 31, 2010"....I believe you meant to say 2009.

By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Dec 22, 09 7:09 PM
Nancy and Linda we will remember your intention to limit the morotorium in HB should you EVER run for public office again,well done Anna Chris and Sally,
By Etians rd (543), Southampton on Dec 23, 09 9:17 AM
Leave the vacant run down buildings as is. Encouraging no future investments or improvements equals very good planing.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 23, 09 9:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
Much better I suppose to let everyone build anything without any forethought, then complain about it forever.

It's 3 months, surely the place won't suffer such a drastic fate that quickly!
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 23, 09 4:16 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Dec 23, 09 11:29 AM
EastEnd68 - Good planning means Plan the Work and then Work the Plan. Municipalities require more time than the private sector to develop the plan, hence moratoriums and extensions.
By Sag (54), Sag harbor on Dec 23, 09 5:31 PM
This is the same moratorium that ended in June and was extended six months. Do anything except make decesions.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 23, 09 6:05 PM
The economic downturn dictates that there will be vacant stores and buildings all over the East End. There is no desperate need to fill them immediately.

Hampton Bays has the crummiest looking main drag in the entire East End. Any future permits should specify appearance and landscaping. If a proposed use is ugly, noisy and smelly, it should be forbidden.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 27, 09 4:52 PM
2 members liked this comment
"If a proposed use is ugly, noisy and smelly, it should be forbidden."

And will you decide what is ugly?
By Terry (380), Southampton on Dec 30, 09 7:38 PM
Hampton Bays does not need subdivisions . The town has to be clean up. Get rid of the nail salons and beauty parlors. A small town like this doesnt need 7 nail salons. Whats going on in the back rooms?
Hampton Bays needs nice semi up scale shops. The only store is Macy's and for get it , they should have taken over half of that shopping center. We dont need any more banks either. It looks like a nice town when you come into it with all the flowers and hanging baskets. Lets clean up the shops ...more
By LongIslander (43), HAMPTON BAYS on Dec 30, 09 8:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
Great!!!!!! Why Not stifle more of the economy? Anyone willin to spend in this Economy should be praised!!! Obama Lives in Southampton too?
By twins395 (2), Riverhead on Jan 6, 10 8:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think its sad when people say "what we need..." or "we don't need any more......" Our economic system was founded upon entrepeneurs taking risks to supply what customers (users, communities,areas etc...) want and need. The reason there are banks in Hampton Bays is because it is a working class community that NEEDS banks. They are not coming here for the fun of it. The reason a Lord and Taylors or other higher end stores are not here, is because the community will not support it. It is amazing ...more
By The Real World (368), southampton on Jan 8, 10 7:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
Bravo Real world nicely said!
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Jan 14, 10 11:23 PM