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Nov 23, 2010 10:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Planning Board Defers Canoe Place Inn Demolition Application Back To Town Board

Nov 23, 2010 10:57 AM

The Southampton Town Board most likely will decide the fate of the Canoe Place Inn after the Planning Board last week referred a demolition permit application back to the Town Board for reevaluation.

Planning Board members cited a pending 2006 application filed by R Squared LLC of Melville, which owns the Hampton Bays inn, that seeks to raze the building and construct 75 luxury time-shares on the Montauk Highway property. That application, which was never officially withdrawn, required that the developers secure a change of zone from the Town Board—a planned development district, or PDD—as the 3.5-acre property is currently zoned “resort waterfront business district,” a classification that allows only for marinas, restaurants and nightclubs. PDDs can be granted only if a developer offers some sort of public benefit in exchange for the special zoning.

It is not clear when the Town Board could vote on the demolition permit application that was filed by the developers early last month.

According to Gregg Rechler, one of the developers, the time-share application was put on the back burner following more than two years of building moratoriums targeting the hamlet. Mr. Rechler said on Monday that he does not understand why the Planning Board deferred to the Town Board, noting that he and his cousin, Mitchell Rechler, are no longer pursuing the time-shares.

“I’m plowing forward to a get a demolition permit to raze the site,” Gregg Rechler said. “I don’t know what we have to do to get the demolition permit. We’re moving forward with demolishing the structure.”

At their meeting last Thursday, November 18, Planning Board members voted to send the demolition permit application back to the Town Board, citing the 2006 application.

Clare Vail, the town’s principal planner for the Canoe Place Inn property, explained that the Town Board determined four years ago that the building’s demolition would have a significant impact on the environment. In 2007, board members adopted their final scope for the environmental statement and waited for the developer’s paperwork to continue the process.

According to Ms. Vail, the Town Board never received the developer’s draft environmental impact statement on that application, a document required to move forward with any kind of redevelopment of the land. “That proposal talks about demolition—you can’t act on one part of an action,” she said of the 2006 application.

Last month, R Squared LLC submitted a new application to demolish the inn, after apparently failing to convince Town Board members to sign off on a different PDD, one that would have preserved both the interior and exterior of the inn and redevelop it as a catering hall. In exchange, the Rechlers had hoped to build 40 condominiums on the eastern side of the Shinnecock Canal, where two restaurants now stand. The Rechlers purchased that land at the same time they purchased the Canoe Place Inn property.

The recommendations of the town’s Landmarks and Historic Districts Board, which determines whether or not buildings more than 75 years old can be considered for adaptive reuse, were also submitted to the Planning Board last week. Committee members stated in a letter that they would like to see the inn saved and readapted. The Planning Board said those findings were passed on to the Town Board for consideration.

Mr. Rechler, meanwhile, said his attorneys will continue to work to secure a demolition permit, adding that one option could be to officially withdraw the time-share application.

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