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May 6, 2013 7:34 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Planning Board Approves Citarella Site Plan

May 8, 2013 9:13 AM

The Southampton Village Planning Board on Monday night approved a site plan application that would bring a Citarella gourmet market to the village. While shoppers will have another grocery option, it will not be the full-fledged supermarket that many have longed for in a village that has seen its number of supermarkets dwindle over the years.

Pending approval from the Suffolk County Department of Health and a building permit, the Citarella will join other chain stores—Pottery Barn and BookHampton— on Hampton Road.

Once the applicant, Hampton Road Realty—no longer Elka LLC, the owner listed on the application—is given the green light, the mini-mall will be converted to a gourmet market.

According to Village Attorney Elbert W. “Beau” Robinson Jr., the property switched hands back in March from Elka LLC to Hampton Road Realty. John Bennett, of Bennett and Read of Southampton, who is representing the applicant, confirmed on Tuesday that Hampton Road Realty is indeed affiliated with Citarella.

To transform the buildings into a single use, walls will be removed and reconfigured to accommodate a market. The mini-mall currently has 11,451 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 1,777 square feet of non-medical office space upstairs.

Additionally, an upgraded septic system will be installed behind the China Garden restaurant. Although not required, the applicant has agreed to install rings to collect rainwater at the recommendation of the village.

The Village Hall board room was nearly empty on Monday night when the Planning Board voted on the application, a quiet end to a process that brought a roomful of critics to its first public hearing in March.

Concern surrounded the application early on because the site plan review did not include looking at perceived parking issues since its interior changes do not require a change of use variance. A market is a permitted use under the current zoning of the property—the building housed an A&P grocery store years ago.

Neighbors and residents said the parking lot was already hitting about 80 percent capacity during the winter months and will only get more crowded, especially since some drivers don’t adhere to various parking limits within the lot, and some Southampton School staff members park there during the school day.

Although board members acknowledged parking as a problem, they said on Monday that it was not within their power to address it, and that it was instead up to the Village Board of Trustees to find a solution.

“We are painfully aware of the parking situation, but it’s not within our jurisdiction to rule on it,” said Planning Board Member Steve Lemanski, noting that the application was for a change in occupancy and not a change in use, the latter of which would have indeed required a look at parking.

In the board’s decision, parking was mentioned as a detail that was concerning but one they could not address.

“Parking and delivery access involves more than the subject properties, and because the subject properties are entitled to pre-existing exemptions to off-street parking requirements, the Planning Board lacks jurisdiction to attempt a remedy or amelioration to the issues presented,” it said.

The Planning Board said in the decision that members alerted the Village Board of the issue of parking and the “potential for delay, frustration and disruption of public patronage of the area.”

According to Mayor Mark Epley, parking is something the Village Board is currently working on, and noted that employee parking is an issue that needs to be looked at since many people park right outside their respective businesses.

Otherwise, the application made it through the process with few issues, according to the board’s decision: “Were it not for several issues ancillary to the use of the properties, this application presented few new issues for review.”

Just last week, the board discussed drainage at the property, a concern of some officials who pointed to flooding during rainstorms.

According to Mr. Robinson, there is substantial water runoff at the property and a village engineer suggested that the applicant install recharge basins 
underneath the village parking lot behind the buildings and asked Citarella if it would do so.

Agreeing to the proposal, Mr. Bennett sent two letters to the Village Trustees requesting their stamp of approval. Mr. Bennett said the trustees had not replied, and so he and his client agreed to keep the offer open until May 1, 2015. If the trustees accept, the owner of the property would have permission to enter village property—the parking lot—and install the basins. Mr. Bennett said the work would not be done during the summer season, but likely during the fall.

When asked when construction is slated to begin, he said it was too early to tell and couldn’t say when doors would open. He said when it does open, it would benefit Southampton Village.

“It’s going to be great foot traffic into Southampton Village,” he said. “I grew up in Southampton and it’s always been the jewel of the Hamptons—that’s what it should be. It will be a great shot in the arm to the village.”

Mayor Epley said he agrees that it should bring a lot of business to surrounding stores, but said a Citarella wouldn’t necessarily fill the village residents’ need for a grocery store.

“It won’t answer the full need—Citarella is a boutique food store,” he said. “The average guy is not going to benefit from them.”

The mayor also said he still supports putting a Fresh Market at the corner of Hampton Road and Flying Point Road—the Glennon family’s parcel—but that the idea didn’t have majority support from the Village Board.

On Tuesday, Walter Glennon said that while he could not comment immediately, he would still like to be in on the on-going dialogue about a supermarket in Southampton Village.

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I can just see all the double parking on Hampton Road as people load up their cars...
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on May 6, 13 8:10 PM
Options are good.. parking will adjust.. this will bring great late afternoon and evening flow..
By blackduck1 (20), southampton on May 6, 13 10:29 PM
sell out, with me oh yea, sell out, with me tonight
record company's gonna give me lots of money
and everything's gonna be (all right).

~ Reel Big Fish
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on May 6, 13 9:16 PM
This is one of the better quotes you've ever posted haha
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 9:29 AM
Boohoo for the parking nightmare.At least it will be liquid and revolving every 10 15 minutes.The real problem is on Mainstreet where most of the Realtors park their cars all day long because their too lazy and inconsiderate to all the Merchants and Restaurant owners to do the right thing and park in the lot behind Herrick's....That's the real problem Mr.Epley and his enforcement seems to have a hard time seeing, caring and doing something about ...Or the certain upstairs offices business who ignore ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on May 6, 13 9:22 PM
and the rents are too damned high..
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on May 6, 13 9:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
Since when do we not have parking enforcement? Have you never seen the ARMY of meter maids, armed with the chalk sticks, and more importantly, attitudes, that walk the yellow line all day long?!
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on May 7, 13 9:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
Actually a lot of the spaces are affordable but a change in consumer habit and the evolution of the internet and iphone have crushed most of Mainstreet.That being said, without business even a reasonable rent becomes unaffordable if there are too many sharks in the tank and its not because all the retailers are too expensive as there is a varied mix but moreover a desolate mainstreet especially when the customers that are shopping are having a HARDTIME PARKING Mark and the first ones to get a ticket ...more
By lursagirl (245), southampton on May 6, 13 10:25 PM
I can't wait for some additional choice!!! About time! Great evening action that will help flow and Village
By blackduck1 (20), southampton on May 6, 13 10:27 PM
3 members liked this comment
Bumper Cars, Start Your Engines!

There appears to be a definitional problem in the Village Code, at a minimum, if the new "use" is not considered a change from the former use.

One hopes that the Board was not just blindly following the lead of the applicant when he or she checked "change in occupancy" as opposed to "change in use," as Mr. Lemanski seems to suggest.

The fact the "use" of market is permitted in this zoning district does NOT alter the clear and overwhelming ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 6:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
PBR - seems like you've spent too much time in those bumper cars. As I explained before, the key difference is that it does not require a change of use VARIANCE. the VARIANCE would trigger parking requirement changes. Yes, the USE changes, but it's permitted under zoning, it's as-of-right.

What would you prefer at the location? Empty stores?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 9:31 AM
You keep dodging the basic questions asked above. If you want to have an adult conversation on this, please re-read the comment above and answer the questions, especially the one about a hypothetical new Citarella on a vacant parcel. What board or department would have jurisdiction over the traffic and parking? The Planning Board for one?

Why NO jurisdiction here?

Perhaps the Code has a flaw here, but if so, you could drive a Citarella truck thought it IMO!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 9:44 AM
"through it"
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 9:47 AM
It's not a hypothetical... the parcel is developed. It has a large public parking lot. It's an impossible question to answer, frankly.

You don't want to understand the difference between a change of use and a change of use variance.

It's not that they don't have jurisdiction over parking - it's that the action before the board does not allow for review of parking. The previous use was in compliance, this use (being allowable in the subject zoning category) therefore, is ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 9:59 AM
stores are empty because the rents are too high. real estate 101.
By lazymedic (100), southampton on May 7, 13 10:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thanks for the reply Nature. Agree to disagree.

A change of ACTUAL use (even within a permitted use) triggers Board jurisdiction to review all details of the changes proposed, including traffic and parking increases.

The INTENT of the code is eviscerated here, as has happened in many other instances of the Village selling out to real estate and development interests.

A real shame in my opinion.

PS I am not suggesting that this use should have been denied, only ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 12:26 PM
What is known about the new owner, Hampton Road Realty?

The NYS Dept. of State, Division of Corporations, lists such an LLC with a filing date of March 4, 2013 and a NYC address. Details are available by mail only.

Did the new owner disclose the general partners behind this LLC at any recent meetings?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 7:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
The address given in the LLC listing appears to be the Citarella corporate office on Broadway IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 8:14 AM
Who cares!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on May 7, 13 8:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
What a scandal! The people behind the LLC are the SAME people who will be running the store! We better put a stop to this!

Failing to see your point... what's surprising about this and why is it relevant?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 9:33 AM
The point is -- no problem. I guess you read the clarification that way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 9:39 AM
Good deal. Its a shorter drive from Westampton. To bad WHB cant be so business friendly. There are afraid of upsetting the Master Plan drawn up 100 years ago.
By realistic (472), westhampton on May 7, 13 8:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
Parking times have to be enforced. Many non retail business owners are parking their cars all day on Main Street. I remember going to town in January on a Tuesday when 80% of the stores are closed and nobody shopping, there was only 3 empty parking spaces.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on May 7, 13 8:40 AM
2 members liked this comment
Thankyou Mets fan!
By lursagirl (245), southampton on May 7, 13 8:59 AM
Hampton Road parking and the lot behind is plagued with all day parking by school employees and also real estate agency employees. I wonder why the Southampton Village Police is too busy to ticket these people after their two hour
parking allowance has expired. I think the Southampton Village Police could easily handle this not too taxing job. Why don't they?
By localcitizen (110), Southampton on May 7, 13 8:59 AM
4 members liked this comment
It doesn't pay as much as a DWI. This is really a traffic control issue I believe and it seems that they are only out in force in the summer when they hire interns.
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on May 7, 13 12:00 PM
The Village ruined the parking lot behind Hampton Road last fall. They took away 30 spaces just to make it "look better." They redesigned the whole lot and Pine Street into one nasty mess. The jumble of vehicles when school lets out now is far more dangerous than it ever was before they came up with this mess.
By SusieD (115), Southampton on May 7, 13 3:08 PM
One crazy aspect of the "new and improved" parking lot is that cars entering Pine Street from Hampton Road, and going south, hit the new dead-end "one way do not enter," and have to loop THROUGH THE PARKING LOT to turn around and exit north on Pine to Hampton Road (where no right turn on red is allowed BTW).

Add a few Citarella trucks, and all the new shoppers, into the equation, plus more and more summer pedestrians eager to try the new Citarella, and . . . . well, you can finish painting ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 8, 13 6:16 AM
Approved Citarella ? Gee, whooda thunk ? And against logic, common sense and public sentiment. Think of the existing specialty food stores that just got a royal screwing by "Club 23 Main Street." Not unlike the homeowners on Wooley Street. You can bet, that somewhere in some Board member's files are sketch plans for a triple deck parking garage behing Hampton Road or Main Street (or both). Like the rising ocean, it's on it's way.
How did we become so blessed with such visionaries?
By lazymedic (100), southampton on May 7, 13 10:42 AM
1 member liked this comment
If you were on the Planning Board, please tell me what legal grounds you would have used to deny this application.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 11:07 AM
See comment above about a change in ACTUAL use triggering jurisdiction to review all details, without which the intent of the Village's code is further eviscerated.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 12:29 PM
Please cite the section of the code that backs up your statement. Also what is your "expertise"? I think we can all agree I'm pretty up to snuff on planning matters...
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 12:44 PM
No code section obviously. Legislative intent, prior decisions, good old logical thinking etc.

More later .......
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 12:54 PM
OK Nature I'll take the bait. Since you are an expert on planning matters, I trust you to reply in good faith . . .

The existing building is pre-existing non-conforming, right? (Its lot coverage is way over the 70% allowed in VB zoning.)

For a major overhaul of a non-conforming building, should not the Board have the authority to look more closely at the details, especially the off-street parking aspects of the Village Code?

And especially the delivery truck details regarding ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 8, 13 6:22 AM
PS Nature, if the applicant's attorney had instead been representing the Village here, do you think we would be at this point? Do you think he might have found SOME basis for the Board's jurisdiction?

The various articles do not say much about the role of the Village Attorney in this case. Hmmmm . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 8, 13 6:26 AM
One more question, Nature: does the Building Dept. have the power, perhaps the duty, to review total compliance with the Code, including all off-street and delivery truck specifications, before it issues a building permit here?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 8, 13 7:38 AM
Ok - settle in as I attempt to respond to the inquiries set before me.

It's not a matter of "should the board" have the authority over something or not. It's a matter of, "do they". The answer, is no. Since the building is pre-existing non-conforming, it doesn't matter that they are conducting a "major overhaul" of the interior space. It's an interior renovation and it's a change of use to another allowable use within the zoning district. If additions were proposed - then yes, it would ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 8, 13 10:27 AM
Thank you for the thorough reply.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 8, 13 10:50 AM
It's about time. The village hasn't had a decent grocery store in years, nay, decades. All of you ppl complaining about parking: right, cuz parking in the summer has always been such a joy, right? Get over it. You don't leave your houses in the summer anyway so what do you care?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on May 7, 13 10:45 AM
The problem here is that parking in that location, especially since they put in the sidewalks and eliminated parking spots, has been difficult during the winter months. The summer will be another story all together and I imagine it will be a nightmare. My concern is really about the impact on the smaller businesses on Hampton Road, and nearby, that will be impacted by the lack of parking for their patrons and with direct competition from Citarella's restaurant/salad bar/coffee shop activities such ...more
By V.Tomanoku (790), southampton on May 7, 13 12:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ditto to VT especially about the Fast Food Franchise like take-out aspects of a Citarella, as detailed in comments under previous articles.

A blind child could see the potential problems especially with all the recent changes to the parking lot.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 7, 13 12:33 PM
V. The use is considered a market - the takeout items, coffee, salad bar etc. are all considered ancillary to the use of a market. Not for nothing, but all grocery stores have these items available, it's just not as noticeable because they devote much less square footage (as a percentage). Go into any grocery store and they have deli counters that you can get sandwhiches, salad/soup bars/coffee shops etc.

While you may be concerned about the effect on other businesses - the fact of ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 12:35 PM
And to (again) address PBR - yes, we can all agree there's a potential for problems. But it's speculation. Please provide proof that it will be problematic.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 12:36 PM
Oh - and I forgot to add this V. Usually what triggers the definition of a restaurant "use" is number of seats. I haven't looked up the specific code for the village - but for arguements sake let's say that a restaurant use is defined as having 24 seats available for service. If Citeralla has 10 seats inside next to the coffee bar or deli area - it qualify as a seperate use. It's simply ancillary to the use of the market.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 7, 13 12:47 PM
Thank you Nature. I appreciate the clarification. I hope it works out for everyone.
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on May 7, 13 1:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
And also, nobody in their right mind would want to eat in a Waldbaum's or King Kullen cafe. Look at the one in BH. It's pretty much the most depressing thing around.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on May 7, 13 1:25 PM
... parking lot behind the store a total nightmare, the worst in the Hamptons. Maybe a six or seven story parking tower would help. Make it look like a windmill.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on May 7, 13 12:16 PM
2 members liked this comment
need double Decker parking
By jd4430 (3), water mill on May 7, 13 1:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, many small villages in Europe have solved their parking problems and created revenue streams with parking garages. Some are surprisingly attractive. Southampton could use at least three, one in each municipal parking lot and one at the hospital.
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on May 7, 13 8:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Now I don't have to drive to Bridge .
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on May 7, 13 11:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Village has turned a blind eye to both code and ordinance enforcement in the past and continues to do so. Check out Flying Point surf camp ads, they're going to be operating a commercial venture on a village beach in direct violation of the law, with the blessing of His Royal Highness Mayor Mark Epley.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 8, 13 6:41 AM
2 members liked this comment
Emperor Epley to you, knave!

Perhaps his bust should augment the Roman line-up of suspects east of the old Parrish?

Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle!
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on May 8, 13 7:00 AM
Substantial revisions to the article were just made.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 8, 13 10:05 AM
PS -- The clear statement of the Board that it has NO jurisdiction over the parking and traffic issues here is a perfect set up for an Article 78 proceeding IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 8, 13 10:10 AM
I hope to see your name on that Article 78... can you please make sure you write "AKA PBR" after your official name so I'll know it's you? Thanks!
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 8, 13 10:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
There was double parking on Hampton Road in the 50's when the old market occupied that space, I can only imagine what it will be like now as people "just run in to get something". Sharpen your ticket writing pencils, Meter maids!
By goldenrod (505), southampton on May 8, 13 11:39 AM
I wonder what competition between Golden Pear and Citarella will look like. This could be the first known example of two competing stores actually raising their prices to attract customers. Methinks this will take a golden bite out of the golden pear.
May 11, 13 6:14 AM appended by Groom Henge
Citarella in Water Mill is not the reason the previous owner of the Cheese Shop sold out. That is ridiculous. Nobody from Southampton is driving to Citarella to save .15 per lb on expensive cheese. That theory smells like lindberger.
By Groom Henge (7), Southampton on May 11, 13 6:14 AM
Ask the former owners of the Village Cheese Shop how their business was affected when the new Citarella moved into Water Mill with crazy low "introductory" prices on their vast assortment of cheeses (and this competition was a few miles away -- with GREAT parking BTW).

A Trojan Horse -- in my personal opinion.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 11, 13 7:58 AM
Groom, thank you for your reply appended above, which I just saw.

The general point is that Citarella's prices in the new Water Mill store many years ago seriously undercut the Village Cheese Shop's cheese business. They were so low that people from Southampton did actually go there to check it out, drawn in part by the good selection and very low prices.

Moreover, lots of folks from outside Southampton Village, who used to make a special trip to the Village Cheese Shop for their ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 11, 13 8:14 PM
PS -- The basic point is that Citarella, especially with predatory introductory pricing, will be serious competition for local businesses.

Yes, competition is good, but PREDATORY NYC-financed pricing is NOT good.

TBD for sure, but the cheerleaders may want to re-think their enthusiasm after The Trojan Horse enters the city.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 11, 13 8:17 PM
I welcome predatory pricing for Southampton. Bring it on. Right now, my only choice is how badly to get ripped off. Groan Henge is all about capitalism. Predatory pricing in the Hamptons is an oxymoron and a fleeting luxury. But just for kicks, why don't we agree to return here and we can discuss all the unheard of bargains that you'll find at Citarella. Or not.
May 12, 13 6:12 AM appended by Groom Henge
I get 2 comments a day. Paul B. Farrell is absolutely insane and is deemed so by any objective reader with a modicum of a thought process. You visceral reaction to the mention of capitalism and the whipping the Paul Farrell reference was unintentionally hilarious. And TBD=you don't know. That was my point all along.
By Groom Henge (7), Southampton on May 12, 13 6:12 AM
Thank you for the clarity.

"I welcome predatory pricing . . . "

"Groan Henge is all about capitalism."

You might want to read an article Paul Farrell wrote recently at a major financial online publication entitled "Capitalism is killing our morals, our future."

As I said above, the Citarella situation is a TBD indeed.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 12, 13 6:20 AM
PS -- Paul Farrell is no left-wing nut job. He is a Marine (never a former Marine) and level-headed financial commentator who calls it like he sees it.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 12, 13 6:22 AM
Competitive pricing is a good thing for consumers, especially in our beautiful neck of the woods. If the Golden Pear takes a hit they will have to lower their prices to compete with Citarellas, good news for those who patronize that establishment. Let the free market system work it out.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 12, 13 7:46 AM
So much for small town Southampton. Its turning into another East Hampton. Thanks Mayor Epley for ruining our small town atmosphere. No one stands up for the small stores that struggle to survive.
By Hillsnbells (43), Southampton on May 13, 13 8:19 AM
1 member liked this comment
Does the landlord stand up for small stores or does he charge the highest that the market can bear. Mayor Epley has no control over who should rent (as long as it is zoned properly) or how much should be charged for each store. Landlords are the ones who decide what businesses it wants in or who can afford to pay. Don't give the landlords a pass just remember the Helmsely's in the city, the pure picture of greed.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on May 13, 13 1:24 PM
Southampton - Pop-up Town
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on May 13, 13 8:21 AM
1 member liked this comment