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Oct 24, 2012 11:01 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Board Stays Its Hand On Supermarket Law

Oct 24, 2012 11:31 AM

Proposed legislation that would allow supermarkets to be built on certain parcels in the Southampton Village highway business district on County Road 39 was withdrawn on Tuesday night as the Village Board contemplates revising the bill—and its legal implications—in light of a threatened lawsuit.

At issue is the village’s Comprehensive Plan, which was last updated in 2000 and recognized the need for more supermarkets in the village. At the time it was written, the plan noted that there were three existing grocery stores in the village. Two have since closed, a fact that the board members would like recognized in the proposed legislation.

Even though the board had no plans to approve the law at Tuesday night’s work session, members voiced their support, or lack thereof, for a supermarket on County Road 39, and more specifically on the Glennon property, a former automobile dealership located at the intersection of Hampton and Flying Point roads.

Last October, the Village Board introduced the legislation that would change the zoning code to allow for supermarkets on specific qualifying property in the highway business district with special exception permit approval, and a month later it came to light that the Glennon family had already signed a deal with Fresh Market to build a grocery store on the property.

Last month, a study by Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, an engineering consultant firm hired by Southampton Village, found that the plan would not cause a significant impact to the environment or to traffic, locally or regionally.

At this point, the Village Board needs to first amend the law to reflect the number of supermarket uses in the village, and then it can vote on whether to pass the law itself.

According to the proposed amendment, two of three previously existing supermarket uses in the village business district have ceased to exist since the Village Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2000. The update reflects the change.

Discussion on the benefits and disadvantages of having a supermarket on County Road 39 unfolded quickly.

Mayor Mark Epley and Board Member Nancy McGann voiced their support for a market, saying there is a need for one, and said the law was a safe one. Creating the possibility for businesses to come in and “justify” themselves to various village boards for approval will create a “major safety net,” Ms. McGann said. Applicants who want a supermarket on County Road 39 and at the corner of Hampton and Flying Point roads would have to pay for extensive traffic and environmental studies to gain village approval.

“It is our job to sit here and look at what is necessary to what will make our community better,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to do a good, overall broad view of what’s going on out there and go with it.”

Board Member Richard Yastrzemski, however, said he opposes the law, because a supermarket is not needed, and it would set a precedent that could potentially cause traffic troubles. “There is a big difference between desire and need,” he said. “I don’t think a 10-minute drive [to King Kullen in Water Mill or Hampton Bays] is an extremely lengthy process.”

Board member Bill Hattrick asked his peers to hold off on any movement so that they could discuss possible litigation that could come from passing the law.

In April, village resident Abe Wallach addressed the board and said he would take the village to court if they insist on the “back-door attempt at spot zoning.”

There is currently no set date for the resolution to be put back on the table.

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