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Jan 31, 2019 6:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Unlawful Clearing At CPI Townhouse Site Raises Concern Among Town Officials

A rendering of what the townhomes will look like once complete. COURTESY GREG GORDON
Feb 5, 2019 2:14 PM

The unlawful clearing of vegetation along the eastern side of the Shinnecock Canal—as part of a $110 million project to restore the former Canoe Place Inn—has raised concerns among Southampton Town officials.

At a recent Southampton Town Planning Board work session, Assistant Town Planning Director Janice Scherer said that the developer’s removal of five trees near the former Tide Runners building along the canal in Hampton Bays was not authorized and has resulted in slumping and divots along the site’s northern bluff.

She said an on-site meeting should have been held between the developers and the town to discuss the plans prior to the disturbance, noting that she was not apprised of any excavating work until January.

Terry Contracting—hired as a subcontractor by Racanelli Construction Inc., the project’s lead contractor—began clearing the site in December. “We didn’t even know,” Ms. Scherer said.

At the January 24 meeting, Planning Board member Robin Long recommended holding another work session with Ms. Scherer and representatives of Rechler Equity Partners, the developers behind the project, to discuss the breakdown in communication, as well as finalize remediation plans for the site.

The developer has not disputed that the clearing was done in error.

“This was our mistake,” Andrew Renter, the Rechlers’ director of development and construction, said at the meeting. “We are committed to doing whatever mitigation the town deems necessary.”

He explained that plans to clear the site were divided into three phases in order to protect the landscape throughout the course of the year-long project and admitted that the contractor essentially got ahead of themselves. He noted that site superintendents for Racanelli Construction and Terry Contracting—neither of whom were on site during the disturbance—were advised of the plan.

“It came down to the guy in the machine,” he said, adding that the areas of phase two and three have now been fenced off. “He thought it would be a good idea to clear it all at once and went too far.”

Steven Nieroda, a landscape architect with Araiys Design, who was hired by the developers to render mitigation plans, said that steps have been taken to stabilize the slope and prevent any further erosion. Contractors have installed temporary batter boards parallel to the property’s contours to act as temporary root systems, as well as laid dune mesh along the slope.

He recommended building a stone retaining wall near the north end of the site—the steepest portion—to prevent subsequent damage; however, those plans have not yet been approved by the town. Any mitigation plans such as re-vegetation and planting would also need to be approved by the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Town Board approved the developer’s plans to build 37 townhomes on the 4.5-acre property in 2017 in exchange for the restoration of the former Canoe Place Inn on the Rechlers’ 5.6-acre parcel to the west.

To prevent similar situations from occurring in the future, at the meeting, Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty advised Mr. Renter and his colleague, Kristin McCabe, to assign a full-time site manager to monitor the work being done. “A project of this size requires a full-time site engineer to run out and say ‘stop’ if this happens again,” he said.

In a prepared statement on Thursday, Gregg Rechler, who co-owns the property with his cousin Mitchell, said that Mr. Nieroda has already submitted a restoration plan to the town for review.

“We are fully committed to working with the town to correct this unfortunate error,” he said.

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By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Feb 1, 19 8:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
It happens everyday....just tell them what needs to be revegetated and they will fix it. Seriously,enough! Rechler is already spending millions more than necessary to renovate a building that should have been replicated bc there was NOTHING left to save. Appreciate that this developer is making a POS grand again!
By 1bigfish (18), Hampton Bays on Feb 1, 19 8:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Are they going to "revegetate" it with fifty foot or taller trees like the ones removed? I wonder why no one from the town knew this was going on when the PDD plan called for the preservation of those trees. I wonder why no one from the town knew this was happening when I knew and commented on it here months ago.

I wonder if anyone at the town knows that the southernmost building is being constructed on what was, until recently, county owned property. Who arranged for the developer to ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Feb 1, 19 6:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
Vos dont you have a tee time in East Quogue to make early in the morning ?
By 27dan (2854), Shinnecock Hills on Feb 10, 19 9:58 AM
Dan, don't you have a life?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Feb 10, 19 10:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Just playing with you , but thanks for the laugh.
By 27dan (2854), Shinnecock Hills on Feb 11, 19 6:45 PM
... the developer is making a POS grand again to make money. He also convinced the incompetent Anna that he had to leverage risk against this project not being grand by building 37 homes on the canal via a change of zone allowing them to cut off public access to a destination spot by privatizing the property.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Feb 1, 19 9:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
More like she was bought...
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Feb 1, 19 8:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Feb 1, 19 10:38 AM
All the crsp from the restaurant running into the canal for 50 years is ok. The over grown weeds seems to be a problem. Marty Shea and the snowflakes
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 1, 19 10:56 AM
2 members liked this comment
Nobody knew what was going on at the site huh. All you have to do is drive down Montauk hwy to see. Maybe Marty or scherer or one of the other useless idiots shoud get out of the office once in a while. Lmfao
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Feb 1, 19 12:17 PM
Whatever happened to Town oversight of a project of this size. The Town should have had someone on site monitoring construction on a full time basis.
By A Great American (103), East Quogue on Feb 1, 19 1:38 PM
2 members liked this comment
Is anybody really surprised? Everything about this project has been pure slime from day one.

"“We didn’t even know,” Ms. Scherer said."
Are you blind, incompetent or corrupt?
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Feb 1, 19 8:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Keep building. How about they clean up the motels and overcrowded houses. You have no idea what that is doing to the environment. If they move a rock in the wrong direction these dopes will complain. Let them build
By bigblue84 (89), Hampton Bays on Feb 1, 19 8:52 PM
3 members liked this comment
Either Marty's way or the highway. He is one of the most corrupt individuals in Town Hall. He needs to be investigated
By watchoutnow968 (56), Southampton on Feb 2, 19 9:17 AM
Better to ask for forgiveness than permission! I mean, come on though, the guys finally got approval and everything. Years, millions spent. They’re going to bring us some money, and renovate an eyesore. Let’s not kill them over 5 trees. Heck, more local guys got paid because of this. They’ll pay a fine and get the retaining wall they wanted all along...
By Brandon Quinn (191), Hampton Bays on Feb 3, 19 3:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
Hampton Bsys is like a train wreck and they are worried about two trees. Meanwhile every black pine is getting killed by a beetle. morons
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Feb 3, 19 5:37 PM
The End Is Near
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Feb 3, 19 6:44 PM
Its just the same people trying to stop HB from becoming uber gentrified ! They are worried with all the investor buzz and attention we are seeing in our town that the property taxes will go up!
By 27dan (2854), Shinnecock Hills on Feb 5, 19 9:36 AM
so glad this is being developed , it has been an eye sore for years , this is a huge improvement to the canal area,
By my 2 cents (4), southampton on Feb 5, 19 5:40 PM
2 members liked this comment
The property should have been purchased with CPF money and turned into a permanent waterfront park. Why was this never considered?
By Non-Political (125), Hampton Bays on Feb 7, 19 7:49 AM
It was considered, to the point of ridiculuos... We have enough parks in this town what we need is investment $ in H B and believe me its coming soon !

H B is on the verge of a renaissance that will transform the image of this beautiful but under appreciated hamlet for good!
By joe hampton (3461), The Hamptons on Feb 7, 19 9:31 AM
2 members liked this comment
You’d rather have private condos instead of public parks? Who’s being ridiculous?
By Non-Political (125), Hampton Bays on Feb 7, 19 11:51 AM
Yes we have enough soccer fields and places to buy drugs in town ! H B doesn't need any more parks to police what H B needs is to become part of the Hampton's ! And I believe its happening right before our eyes !
By They call me (2826), southampton on Feb 9, 19 4:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
At least the new tenants will have a nice view from their $1.5 million dollar boat houses. This was obviously an mistake by the incompetent contractor. The next error will be installing a bulkhead along the canal and the beautiful historic CPI will fall down in a wind storm. My my.
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Feb 7, 19 6:05 PM
Good for the new tenants they earned that good view! You always sound so envious stop counting other peoples good fortune and learn to enjoy life Ernie?
By They call me (2826), southampton on Feb 9, 19 4:27 PM
What tenants. At $1.5 million these Boat Houses will be empty for years. Too much density. Cheers
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Feb 14, 19 11:31 AM
You have to be blind to not see the construction going on but either you prevent or fix. It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission in this town. The people keeping watch though should be more involved or let them build.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Feb 10, 19 7:30 PM
Is there no recourse?
No fines?
No mandatory and documented re-vegitation plan?

Where is the monkey wrench gang when you need them?
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Feb 11, 19 4:43 PM
Is anyone surprised? The towns just look at $$$$$$$$$.
By rvs (106), sag harbor on Feb 13, 19 1:51 PM