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Jan 15, 2013 11:58 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Opponents Plead With Southampton Village Board To Vacate Supermarket Law

Jan 15, 2013 5:27 PM

Residents continued to plead with the Southampton Village Board last week to step away from plans to implement new zoning guidelines that would allow supermarkets to be built on certain parcels in the village highway business district on County Road 39 on a special permit basis.

In the short term, the law discussed by the board on Thursday, January 10, would pave the way for plans to build a Fresh Market at a former automobile dealership on Hampton Road near the intersection with Montauk Highway. But village officials said no action would be taken on the proposal, pending the results of a key study to precede it.

Although no action had been slated to occur on the legislation on Thursday, the residents and attorney Carolyn Zenk, a former Southampton Town Board member who is representing a group called the Concerned Citizens For Preserving and Improving the Village Business District, also tried to dissuade the board from initiating an in-depth environmental impact study that it had considered completing before making a decision on proposed new law allowing supermarkets on more village properties. The study could cost the village upward of $70,000, according to Board Member Richard Yastrzemski, who served as deputy mayor in Mark Epley’s absence due to illness.

The Village Board first introduced the proposed zoning code change to allow for supermarkets in the highway business district in 2011, after the Glennon family had signed a deal with Fresh Market to build a grocery store on the family’s property at 630 Hampton Road, on the condition that zoning issues precluding the site’s use as a supermarket could be resolved. The proposed law, if approved, would change the code’s restrictions and require individual applicants to provide their own studies and go through the various village regulatory boards to get approval.

On Monday, Mr. Yastrzemski said that movement on the proposed law would likely be delayed in order to see how things pan out with the Gibbs Planning Group retail study, which is intended to analyze the village’s retail potential, as well as to see what happens with the proposal for a King Kullen in Tuckahoe—an application currently before the Southampton Town Board—and how traffic will be affected with the completion of the County Road 39 widening project, which began in earnest in the fall of 2012 and should wrap up in the spring.

Opponents of the legislation, who have raised concerns about traffic jams at the already busy intersection and impacts on nearby residences, will have at least a few months of reprieve while the village waits for the retail study to be concluded. “I don’t want to say tabled, but it’s been delayed for some time for things to really get discovered here,” Mr. Yastrzemski said.

The village commissioned Nelson, Pope and Voorhis to do a study to find out what the impact a supermarket might have on the area. The analysis concluded that the seven parcels that qualify as potential commercial properties along County Road 39 lack “environmental sensitivity” that would warrant a more intensive study under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and that the supermarket law would not cause a significant impact to the environment or to traffic, locally or regionally.

Some residents proposed that the village reject Nelson, Pope and Voorhis’s negative declaration for further environmental study and go ahead with a more in-depth analysis before moving forward with the legislation—a suggestion that the

board

has considered, despite its large price tag.

On Thursday, Ms. Zenk energetically approached the board, eager to persuade members to not go through with the study—and threatening legal action if they do. “Say ‘no.’ Forget it. It’s a bad idea” she said. “I want to talk to you now instead of in an Article 78 [lawsuit].”

Ms. Zenk suggested embracing the Waldbaum’s on Jagger Lane as the village’s supermarket instead of looking outside of the village business district to site another.

“I honestly think you can do so much better,” she said. “I think Southampton is such a beautiful village. Why shouldn’t Waldbaum’s be beautiful? You can revamp this full-service supermarket.”

Members of the board reminded Ms. Zenk that they cannot force Waldbaum’s to upgrade the commercial property.

Village resident Peter Conrad also advised the board to abandon its “wrong-headed” plan, but added that if an environmental study should take place, it should at least be done by an independent consulting firm. “Too much money has been spent on their studies already,” he said of Nelson, Pope and Voorhis. “Giving them the task will result in a preordained conclusion.”

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