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Jan 7, 2015 10:18 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board To Make Final Decision On Canoe Place Inn Application Tuesday

Jan 9, 2015 1:27 PM

The Southampton Town Board will bring the debate over a proposed Canoe Place Inn maritime planned development district to a close next week after years of public discourse when it puts the matter to a vote at its regular board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, January 13.

The redevelopment plan for the old Canoe Place Inn property—presented by cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler of R Squared LLC—has gone through various states of fluctuation and stagnation since they first proposed to replace the derelict inn with 75 timeshares in 2006. The current iteration calls for the complete restoration of the inn, along with the construction of 37 townhouses on approximately 4.5 acres along the eastern bank of the Shinnecock Canal.

The Rechlers must convince a supermajority, or four out of five Town Board members, to vote in favor of their application to secure the change of zone that they need to execute it. Three votes means the measure fails.

The board will weigh the costs of changing the zoning on several parcels—namely, permitting dense housing along the waterfront that is now intended for commercial use—against the public benefits that the Rechlers are pitching. They include fixing up the Canoe Place Inn and reopening it as a catering hall, conference center and inn; installing a publicly accessible 250-foot-long floating dock along the east side of the canal; installing an underground nitrogen-filtering barrier on the west side of the canal; donating land just east of North Road to the town; and providing $300,000 to improve the town-owned Shinnecock Canal Park on the west bank of the canal.

The special zoning also allowed the town to require the installation of a state-of-the-art Nitrex wastewater system to service the townhouses on an adjoining property to the east of the canal. If the property were developed under existing zoning, cesspools would have been permitted.

Opinions have been split between members of the public and local governing boards. On December 3, the Suffolk County Planning Commission, which reviews developments of significant regional impact, approved of the Rechlers’ plan by a vote of 11-1; on the other hand, five of the seven members of the Southampton Town Planning Board voted not to endorse the plan. Residents of Hampton Bays and Shinnecock Hills have also expressed contrary points of view on the project in recent months.

The 5.65-acre Canoe Place Inn property once housed the first inn on Long Island, which was constructed between 1635 and 1640 and housed British soldiers during the Revolutionary War, as well as other dignitaries, before burning down in 1921. The current building was constructed in 1922 and continued to serve the East End as an inn for decades before transitioning to a nightclub toward the end of the 20th century.

In their application, the Rechlers are proposing to renovate the building into a 20-room inn with a 350-person catering hall. It also would feature a 70-seat restaurant with a 20-seat bar and 120 outdoor seats. On the second property, which sits just east of the canal, the Rechlers would build 37 townhouses split between seven buildings, a 1,900-square-foot clubhouse, an outdoor pool, and a private marina. The third parcel, a 2.68-acre lot across North Road from the townhouse site, would house the wastewater treatment facility to service the townhouses.

The maritime planned development district was crafted, in part, in response to public outcry against the Rechlers’ plan to tear down the Canoe Place Inn from residents who consider the building to be historically significant, though it has never been dubbed a landmark. Though the developers have modified their plan multiple times over the years, addressing specific community concerns, such as density issues and potential nitrogen loading in the bays, many hamlet residents say they still oppose the plan, stating that the town is giving up too much for the suggested public benefits.

Jim Morgo, a spokesman for R Squared, said the Rechlers feel as if they’ve addressed every issue within reason and made as many concessions as possible. If the Town Board votes down the application on Tuesday, the Rechlers will not submit another proposal for a planned development district, Mr. Morgo said—which means they could opt to develop all three properties based on existing zoning, with no input from the Town Board.

“They’ve made incredible adjustments to the proposal, and I can’t see them making any more,” Mr. Morgo said. “The process seemed never-ending, but in the end it was important because the project got better thanks to feedback from the community in the Town Board.But this thing has been going on since 2010—four and a half years is enough.”

As of right, the Rechlers can knock down the Canoe Place Inn and construct a 49,187-square-foot, 338-seat restaurant and, possibly, a motel. Similarly, they have the option of building either a restaurant or a two-story motel along the eastern shore of the canal, and another smaller motel or restaurant on the lot now sited for the wastewater treatment facility.

Mr. Morgo said the Rechlers are not sure what they will do if the board rejects their application, though he did note that they would pursue an option that is currently available to them.

“I think that’s what they’d do,” he said, “either they’d build as of right or have someone else build as of right. I don’t think anyone who has followed this would say that’s unreasonable. But, unquestionably, the PDD is a better use than what would be built as of right.”

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Let them build as of right and please don't change the zoning.
Restaurants and motels please. It would be a tourist destination
That is what waterfront resort business zoning is meant to be.
By ADAMSG (53), EAST QUOGUE on Jan 8, 15 8:36 AM
5 members liked this comment
... there are no public benefits to this projec,t which are needed for the change of zoning, as per the PDD legislation. The only benefits are financial gains to the rechlers.The CPI should have nothing to do with the canal project, they are separate issues. This becomes an illegitimate/illegal zoning modification if passed.

Anna and the board have lost site of the specifics of the PDD law - if they even understand it.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jan 8, 15 9:38 AM
4 members liked this comment
You two big mouth's should buy the property, and build a hotel. Anything that can be built should be built asap. Hampton Bays needs to take advantage of these deep pocket developers, before the economy changes, and they lose their nerve. The Rechler's are doing a great job at Gabrieski Airport. The airport was a polluted dump, and now it is becoming a well planned industrial park creating jobs!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 8, 15 10:01 AM
... I thought they were building a "technology park" not an "industrial park" at the airport? They promised high tech companies, TV and film industries moving in, homeland security companies, green technology development companies, accompanied by high paying jobs.

Now they propose banks, restaurants and a health club - all very high tech and high paying, right, chief, and, already in existence in West Hampton area and struggling, right, chief ? The old bait and switch.

Continue ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jan 8, 15 10:35 AM
2 members liked this comment
As a resident who lives within 1/2 mile of this proposed project, I pray it passes. I would love to see the CPI returned to it's glory as opposed to the gaping eye sore it has become. For a decade now it makes our town look like Detroit. The time to change that has LONG come. APPROVE THE ZONING CHANGE!!!
By LifelongHBresident (1), Hampton Bays on Jan 8, 15 10:42 AM
3 members liked this comment
If the Town Board deigns to approve these projects without requiring satisfactory completion on the Canoe Place Inn site before a single shovel is turned on the canal's east side we stand to be slammed with the biggest "bait and switch" debacle this town has ever seen.

Let each of these projects stand on their own and comply with all RWB requirements. The public is not served by any zoning change or variance.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 8, 15 2:28 PM
3 members liked this comment
There is a caveat that they can not work on the east side without working on the west. Has been since day one.

What would be the advantage to the builders to "bait and switch"? Considering all the money they have spent on architects, engineers etc for the Inn project, and the time this has taken, what would they achieve?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 8, 15 3:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
By lennybrand (4), hampton bays on Jan 8, 15 2:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
What "HURRY UP DRILL"? This project has been in the works for almost 5 years.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 8, 15 3:27 PM
Cheap shot
By joe hampton (3461), southampton on Jan 10, 15 1:13 PM
I don't care how much money they invested in this. They bought property knowing it wasn't zoned for what they want to do. Period

By ADAMSG (53), EAST QUOGUE on Jan 8, 15 4:50 PM
4 members liked this comment
to bb:


"What would be gained by this "bait and switch"?"

Well, in the case of the Gabreski "Movie Studio/Technology Park/Can You Reach Up To The Counter With The Rent Money(?) Project", it enabled the Rechlers to add a third story in defiance of zoning restrictions. Initially, they claimed that they needed the extra height to accommodate the lighting fixtures and special effects mechanisms required by the "movie studio" ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 9, 15 8:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
What happened in Gabreski should not have anything to do with what is happening in HB. The only reason they are rehabilitating the Inn is because the community asked them to! They can build rental units as of right...on BOTH sides of the canal...why the on going waste of time and money?

Again, they gain nothing by "bait and switch".

By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 15 11:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
They can build only short term rentals in the RWB zone, not apartments with leases over 30 days, I believe.

And all the "caveats" you claim are far from true guarantees. If it's not in the approval, it does not exist. Why don't you show us where these guarantees are. And why don't you tell us why you are so concerned that the Rechlers get whatever they want, at any expense to the community? Are you one of their investors or agents?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 9, 15 5:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
LOL that must be it VOS. I'm in it for the $$

Where did you see/read/hear that they can't build apartments with leases over 30 days. What exactly is an apartment with a lease under 30 days? A motel/hotel?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 15 11:12 PM
Are you kidding me? You've been pushing this project for over a year but you have no idea that apartments are a prohibited use in RWB zoning areas? I'd suggest before you make another statement here you familiarize yourself with the town code, particularly section 330 which deals with zoning.

The only lodging permitted in RWB zoning is transient, meaning by the day or by the week. Apartments, condos, townhouses as well as single and multiple family homes are prohibited. How many other ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 10, 15 3:59 AM
Why are you so scared of of a better class of neighbor, It is what HB needs unless you like it looking like a Hiring hall / Dump
By joe hampton (3461), southampton on Jan 10, 15 1:15 PM
2 members liked this comment
Have you read the as of right that can be built on this property? Clearly not.

The bigger question is uninformed detractors are there out there?

By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 11, 15 11:42 AM
1 member liked this comment
I absolutely have read and understand the uses permitted in the RWB zone. Either you have not or are intentionally attempting to deceive those unfamiliar with the pertinent regulations.

Town code section 330.33 entitled Business Districts Table of Uses dated 3/1/2010 shows the only permitted uses for the CPI and Tiderunners parcels in the RWB zone are for:

Preexisting dwellings.
Houses of worship.
Standard restaurants.
Takeout restaurants.
Customary accessory ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 11, 15 4:27 PM
"Anyone asserting otherwise is seriously ignorant of legitimate uses of the property or is intentionally spreading false information."

Its a good thing no one said that then isn't it.

"Accessory apartments"

They are allowed but regular apartments are not? You stated above

"They can build only short term rentals in the RWB zone, not apartments with leases over 30 days, I believe. "

I'm sure the neighbors would be tickled with a fishing and fish packing ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 23, 15 7:31 PM
It is a done deal.
Blame HB Civic
By Jpal (5), hampton bays on Jan 9, 15 8:50 AM
So what is the answer hihatsize for Gabreski Airport? Leave it a polluted super fund site? The place is cleaned up the buildings are going up, and the place looks great.
I think the Rechlers should leave the canal area the way it is. Let it fall into the canal to match the rest of Hampton Bays. The town had a chance years ago to get the Oceanos Aquarium before Riverhead, and ran them out of town. The aquarium would have been a great focal point for the canal area, but the local bafoons had ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 9, 15 9:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
Oh no, who would possibly want an Aquarium? Oh no, who would want a Gosman's dock type project?! Fast forward, the Aquarium is a major boom to Riverhead and now some want the Gosman's dock type project that they booed in the past, causing the then owners to sell the property.

No one wants change. Everyone wants change.

By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 9, 15 11:10 AM
Who would be using this hotel and restaurant today? I'll answer that, NOBODY! You'll get an influx of summer tourists, which, by the way, you all bitch about. You don't want the tourists, you don't like or appreciate the Latino community either.

Gosmans is closed for the season and quite frankly, seasonal businesses can't survive or compete any longer. You've successfully lobbied the politicians to get rid of the group houses already that supported the local businesses. If they build ...more
By whatapity (106), Tuckahoe on Jan 9, 15 1:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
Rest in Peace Sister Jackie Walsh, whose tragic death 30 months ago today, on July 9, 2012, still haunts the Supervisor and Town Board.

Rest in Peace
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 9, 15 2:51 PM
I don't think today is July 9th. Snow on the ground tells me so...
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Jan 9, 15 4:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sorry PQ1, I do not understand your comment. Perhaps you could explain?

July 9, 2012 plus 30 months brings us to today, does it not?

This coming July 9, 2015 will mark the 36th month, or 3-year, anniversary.

Thank you.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 9, 15 5:59 PM
Now that you point it out, PBR, I'm happy to explain.
A quick, well-meant attempt not to have the year-to-date anninversary of that bad day in hot July confused in the public mind with the cold and snow of January went wrong for misreading on my part. Your'e right. 30 is not 36.
In any case, too many months. Disturbing. Agreed.
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Jan 10, 15 9:51 AM
I'll say it again -- it's all a matter of whether one thinks the CPI is trash or treasure. Look like the treasure side (not mine) is winning. Good luck to Hampton Bays however it goes.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 10, 15 9:15 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By goteam (3), islip on Jan 10, 15 12:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Property rights is one of our most precious rights, and we continue to trash them.
The Rechlers are seasoned sucessful developers who are we to argue with success? I have a feeling nothing will be done in the end.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 10, 15 12:46 PM
I am not convinced that the Rechlers have anyone's best interest in mind but their own. I am not against their proposal as anything would probably be better than what we look at right now but to say they are doing it to better the community might be a stretch. We will see.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 10, 15 2:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Of course "anything would probably be better than what we look at right now" that's precisely how the Rechlers want everyone to feel. They have allowed or even encouraged their properties to look like the worst sections of Detroit so that the gullible will want them to do anything to improve the self imposed blight of the brothers themselves.

It's been well within the power but not the interests of the Rechlers to keep these properties looking presentable while they asked the town for ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 11, 15 12:39 AM
"Short of George Washington, everyone who needed to sleep somewhere has slept there," Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst says. Gee, how many kids does she have???
By alhavel (50), Hampton Bays on Jan 10, 15 2:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
What exactly does that mean AlHavel?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jan 11, 15 11:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
I'm sure if anyone of you that want to step up can buy this property from the Rechlers at the right price. The nay saying peanut gallery has all types of ideas for the property, but no skin in the game. Just tons of hot air!
This is a lesson don't try to develop anything in Hampton Bays, because it is the town of no.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 11, 15 8:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
Sure, you're so right. Anyone on a layman's salary could purchase it from them "for the right price".

Such a trite argument, as usual.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 11, 15 9:12 AM
I for one will not vote to re-elect any Town Board Member who s votes to approve this MPDD in its present form. Let's hope two members have the courage to vote to save the Shinnecock Canal from overdevelopment. The plan should retain the present zoning on the east side of the canal preserving public use of the Shinnecock Canal. Combining these three properties into a single project was wrong from the start and should not have been considered by the Town Board.
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Jan 11, 15 9:30 AM
hampton bays needs this project and i will make sure i find 8 people who will come out and vote for you to offset the 8 who wont
Jan 12, 15 1:15 PM appended by Erin 27 E
William Rodney (245), southampton highhatsize (2222), East Quogue bird (116), Southampton VOS (644), WHB ADAMSG (37), EAST QUOGUE marlinspike (1476), Southampton very very interesting how 6 out of the eight no votes do not even live in hampton bays. we deserve to be more than just the un hampton forever vote yes!
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Jan 12, 15 1:15 PM
2 members liked this comment
Says Erin27 E...from SOUTHAMPTON! You can't make this stuff up!
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 13, 15 2:00 PM
This is one of the biggest decisions facing HB in a long time.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 11, 15 5:14 PM
The only reason to go to Hampton bays is for the Waterfront Resort Businesses.
That is your asset Enhance them
We go to Hampton Bays to enjoy Dining on the water, looking at the water, boating on the water.
You need to leave the zoning alone. Without these types of businesses hampton bays has nothing
A catering hall? The only people going to that are out of town invited guests who are going to go home after the party. They aren't going to shop your main street

You just ...more
By ADAMSG (53), EAST QUOGUE on Jan 12, 15 2:31 PM
2 members liked this comment