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Sep 2, 2016 5:20 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Judge Rules That Canoe Place Inn Lawsuit Can Move Forward

A judge ruled that the lawsuit regarding the Canoe Place Inn planned development district can move forward.
Sep 7, 2016 1:52 PM

A judge has ruled that a lawsuit challenging the Southampton Town Board’s 2015 approval of the Canoe Place Inn planned development district can move forward.

State Supreme Court Justice William Rebolini on August 30 denied a request by the developers, Gregg and Mitchell Rechler of Rechler Equity, seeking a dismissal of a lawsuit that challenges the Town Board’s decision to grant a zoning change for their project, which calls for redevelopment along both sides of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays.

A lawsuit was filed last year by a group of residents, called Shinnecock Neighbors, who are opposed to the townhouse component of the project, which calls for the installation of a sewage treatment facility in their neighborhood. As part of their lawsuit, the neighbors also argue that the project creates too much density on the 4.5-acre property on the eastern side of the canal on which 37 townhouses would be constructed.

In addition to the townhouses, the Rechlers plan to restore the Canoe Place Inn so it can reopen as a 25-room inn with guest cottages, and also construct a new 300-seat catering hall on the western property, which measures 5.6 acres.

The Town Board approved the change of zone in January 2015, though, to date, the Rechlers have not yet broken ground on the project.

Jennifer Juengst of Gordon & Juengst, the lawyer representing Shinnecock Neighbors in the lawsuit, said Friday that she was satisfied with Justice Rebolini’s ruling—though she stressed that the litigation is far from over.

“We won a battle, but we haven’t won the war yet,” Ms. Juengst said.

Ms. Juengst said the Rechlers have up to a month to decide if they want to appeal the ruling. If they do not appeal, the lawsuit can then proceed, she added.

David Yaffe, an attorney representing the Rechlers, said in a statement that his client disagrees with the ruling and is considering an appeal.

"All that has occurred in the case is the Suffolk County Supreme Court had determined, as a procedural matter and giving the plaintiffs the initial benefit of the doubt, that they have 'standing' to have their arguments heard by the court," the statement reads. "Nothing more. We disagree with the procedural ruling and are considering our options with respect to an appeal. Regardless, the case will now promptly advance to be heard on its merits by the Supreme Court and we are looking forward to the court’s resolution of the matter. At this stage, the plaintiffs receive no benefit of the doubt, and are instead required to overcome the strong presumption of validity that applies to the Town Board’s considered determination to change the property’s zoning for redevelopment. We are confident the Town Board carefully and closely reviewed every aspect of the proposed redevelopment during its lengthy review process and complied with all legal requirements.

"In the meantime, we continue to pursue applications for construction approvals before the town's planning board."

Last week’s ruling makes a point of noting that one of the members of Shinnecock Neighbors, Hope Sandrow of Shinnecock Hills, will be directly affected if the redevelopment is permitted to move forward. Ms. Sandrow, an artist, has been a vocal opponent of the planned development district, particular with the siting of the sewage treatment facility in her neighborhood.

“It appears that as a professional artist and art activist, she is an advocate for the environment in general and for the preservation of the Shinnecock Canal in particular, and uses and visits the canal as part of her life’s work,” the ruling reads. “That protection of the environment is a predominant theme of her work; that the Shinnecock Canal has served as the subject of her work; that much of her work since the mid-1980s has referenced art history and reflected her concerns for preserving the environment on the East End …”

Ms. Sandrow said in an email on Tuesday that she has been “celebrating” the ruling since it was handed down by Justice Rebolini.

Ms. Juengst added that Ms. Sandrow, as well as other members of the Shinnecock Neighbors, strongly believe that the eastern bank of the Shinnecock Canal should remain open to the public. Most recently, the area featured a pair of restaurants that have since closed their doors.

“This project, with its new zone change, allows the Rechlers to privatize the canal, which has been public for 300 years,” Ms. Juengst said.

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BRAVO Shinnecock Neighbors! There are many Hampton Bays residents who support you 100%! Rechler Equity led by spokesman Jim Morgo was dishonest every step of the way. Southampton Town elected members, past and present, should look at this case and begin serving the people that elected them. They voted unanimously to push Canoe Place Inn...shame on all of them. Free advice to Rechler Equity - leave Hampton Bays and put your nitrogen cesspool malarkey in some other community! DONT EVER SETTLE ...more
By Joanne1 (1), Hampton Bays on Sep 2, 16 10:46 PM
2 members liked this comment
"put your nitrogen cesspool malarkey"

HUH? What how in the world you you figure that what the press is calling "sewage treatment facility", which is isn't, a cesspool?

Everyone is in favor of saving our bays until they think that the method of doing that shouldn't be any where near them.

I'm intrigue to hear how they were dishonest. Do tell!
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Sep 3, 16 11:07 AM
2 members liked this comment
Great news!! Perhaps this may right one of the many wrongs of Queen Anna's reign and her legacy of pay to play for developers.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 3, 16 6:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
This project should never have been approved in the first place. There was no reason to link the two sites in one PDD. The CPI should be taken down and replaced with seasonal time shares or a couple of dozen town houses. The east side property should be allowed to reopen as a Waterside restaurant with an updated septic system that is loca
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Sep 3, 16 8:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
Continued... That is located on the same east side lot. The property on the east side of North Rd should be zoned residential. And not be used as a sewer system for the overcrowded town house lot. Most of the board members who approved this mess are gone. Hopefully the two that are left will wake up or be replaced in the next election.
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Sep 3, 16 8:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
Town Board - take note when considering the "Hills" in EQ!
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Sep 3, 16 9:35 AM
Irrelevant. The Hills is not located in a Resort Waterfront District that the comprehensive plan states should remain commercial property for the benefit of the people.

I also hope that the question of the Rechslers plan to use county property as part of their development on the east side of the canal is addressed. The southernmost building in the plan is largely on what the map shows as the former right of way to the old Montauk Highway bridge and their unsafe plan to move the southern ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Sep 3, 16 1:57 PM
Hey Ernie good point ,

Most of the board members who approved this ... Exactly It was painstakingly and legally

By 27dan (2854), Shinnecock Hills on Sep 4, 16 2:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
" Resort Waterfront District that the comprehensive plan states should remain commercial property"

Sure like you would ever let a commercial Resort be build there , stop it already, the Reacher's did everything they were asked to do and more.

This 11th hour stalling is just that. Stalling !

Its the same game certain people play with any proposed development in the Hampton's. Well Sorry but Hampton Bays is on the map now! You cant keep it down any more the rich are coming ...more
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Sep 4, 16 2:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hotels, restaurants, boatyards and recreational activities are the kinds of businesses permitted in RWB zoning districts. These are the kinds of businesses that are recognized in the Town's Comprehensive Plan as being essential to the economic well being of the Town and are the types of businesses that have occupied this property for eighty or so years.

The Rechslers have certainly not done everything they were asked to do which was to go away. Instead they have attempted to build a development ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Sep 5, 16 3:37 AM
WHB is building the burnt out condos and are not required to put in s sewage plant. Reason, no room. There is always room for the environment. A lot of BS and they go to the Baykeeper function all dressed up...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Sep 3, 16 1:05 PM
We need to remember how this all started. The Rechlers wanted to build on the CPI site a decade or more ago but a handful of vocal residents wanted it restored. II wonder how many of those residents are still living in the area? I wonder if any of them are involved in the lawsuit fighting the townhouses on the east side of the canal? I suspect if Town took a survey today, there would only be a small percentage of residents that care if the CPI is saved. I know people blame the Rechlers for ...more
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Sep 3, 16 1:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
Congradulations to the people who made this lawsuit. You will now officially keep HB a dump for a little bit longer.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 3, 16 3:05 PM
when the townhouses flood because they are built 12 feet from the water, guess whose insurance rates will increase - every one in Hampton Bays. That's how flood insurance works. This is not a smart project. Hampton Bays is not a dump; it never was. It is a wonderful place with people that actually care about its future. Privatizing and imperiling the Canal is not a smart plan. Making the roads even more hazardous than they are is not smart. This is one of the most beautiful areas of LI's ...more
By jgordon (7), Shoreham on Sep 3, 16 10:20 PM
Just like my insurance rates have doubled since obamacare
By 27dan (2854), Shinnecock Hills on Sep 4, 16 2:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
Jgordan it doesn't matter how close from the water it matters what elevation your at. The elevation of the project is higher than any flood zone. By the way why do you care what these people pay in flood insurance when yhis project doesn't require it?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 4, 16 6:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 5, 16 1:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By AL (83), southampton on Sep 5, 16 9:05 PM
Thankfully this has stalled, now everyone can keep using the land behind Canoe Place Inn to keep illegally dumping trash and debris...

Seen this happen randomly 3 times when driving by.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Sep 8, 16 10:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
to: adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp


"Thankfully this has stalled, now everyone can keep using the land behind Canoe Place Inn to keep illegally dumping trash and debris..."

Wouldn't be happening if the Town Board would bestir itself and start enforcing "Chapter 261: Maintenance" of the town code.

At $1000/day (an up, when other penalties for violating that section are added) the Rechlers might find it prudent ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Sep 8, 16 11:06 AM
PUBLIC BEWARE: The east end of Long Island is just grist for the Real Estate mill. "Developers" develop to suit themselves not to improve our community.
The fancy people who must be catered to with perfection do not wish to buy "USED HOMES" they need new, and only new. So, the Real Estate services gears up to provide NEW. Destroy entire neighborhoods of citizens dwellings in favor of the oversized shingle style built to the legal meets and bounds without a thought to ordinary dignified privacy. ...more
By BILLM (9), SOUTHAMPTON on Sep 8, 16 11:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thats a great concept if we were communist. How about if you dont like my house dont look at it?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Sep 8, 16 5:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
If I'm not mistaken there was Altenkirks tackle shop (privately owned), the building that use to house 1 North Steak House (privately owned) and Tide Runners (privately owned). These businesses were sold to someone that's willing to put some money into our Hamlet and cleanup the eyesore that is privately owned. Technically, if you use those areas to access the canal you would be trespassing I would think that Tide Runners and the bars before in the months they were opened created a lot more sewage ...more
By yogi1 (14), on Sep 26, 16 5:13 PM
Leave no postage stamp undeveloped...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 26, 16 7:42 PM