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Oct 15, 2008 11:23 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Water Mill residents unhappy about Subway

Oct 15, 2008 11:23 AM

A Subway sandwich shop is moving into the former Double Rainbow toy and ice cream shop located in the Citarella shopping center on Montauk Highway, and some Water Mill residents are upset about the arrival of the national chain.

At a meeting of the Water Mill Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday, residents said they were troubled by the process by which Southampton Town’s Building Department approved the application.

At issue is language in the town code that was removed in 2005 to reduce the amount of red tape in the approval process for building permits. Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, who attended Monday night’s CAC meeting, said she plans to introduce a resolution to reverse that change.

Initially, a site plan review by the Town Planning Board was required for any “commercial interior renovation that does not constitute a change of use or increase in occupancy.” Had that language not been stricken from the town code, the Planning Board would have been forced to review the plans for the Subway shop. But in this case, the application was approved by Mike Benincasa, the town’s chief building inspector, who determined that the transition from the Double Rainbow to the Subway did not amount to a change of use.

In the view of the CAC, moving from the Double Rainbow to a Subway fast-food store is an obvious change of use.

At the Town Board meeting on Tuesday, Town Attorney Dan Adams told Rachel Verno—who argued on behalf of the CAC—that the chief building inspector erred in his decision and that Mr. Benincasa could “voluntarily” change his mind, but there was nothing within the Town Board’s authority to compel him to do so.

Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said this week that the decision in 2005 to lessen the site plan requirements was a “pro-business” move and that Mr. Benincasa shares a “pro-business” philosophy.

“The chief building inspector is the most powerful person in town,” Ms. Kabot said. “It’s not the supervisor. I have only one vote.”

Work on the Subway shop is moving at a steady pace and it will likely open within the coming months. The only recourse available to those unhappy with those plans is to file a lawsuit, Ms. Kabot said, although a lawsuit can be filed only on behalf of individuals, not a CAC.

Ms. Verno, as well as Ms. Graboski, said they feared the shopping center in question may turn into a food court as an adjoining store front in the shopping center is now vacant.

Ms. Graboski acknowledged that her resolution would not have any influence on the Subway, but wanted to bring back the added site plan requirements for the future. The councilwoman, a former member of the Planning Board, said a lack of site plan review could result in a business evolving into something unwelcome by the community.

“What about parking, lighting, hours of operation, the unloading of supplies?” Ms. Graboski said. “All these questions would have been answered in a site plan review.”

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By fdny7318 (60), Water Mill on Oct 15, 08 7:21 PM
the CAC is a group of restraunt owners who are afraid that another restraunt would show that $30.00 pizzas are very overpriced. want to talk about an outrage !
By typical (63), southampton on Oct 16, 08 9:58 AM
Great addition-workman can now afford lunch. Compliments to the Town Board for making this possible.
By Lefty46 (56), Westhampton on Oct 18, 08 7:40 AM
By PrivateerMatt (390), Southampton on Oct 22, 08 4:06 PM