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Critics Poke Holes in Supermarket Legislation

At a Southampton Village public hearing Tuesday, opponents say the law will not deliver what the Village Board promises.

While legislation currently under the ’s consideration would only create the legal means for a supermarket to be built in the village’s highway business zone, critics who blasted the proposal at a public hearing Tuesday see the zoning amendment as de facto approval of The Fresh Market putting a store on Hampton Road.

The prospect of changing zoning restrictions to accommodate one landowner — something Village Board members say is not their intent — is not sitting well with several residents and business owners.

Tuesday’s meeting was not as well attended as the on Jan. 12, and the crowd was a little less fiery, but the voice of opposition could chalk round two of the public hearing up as a win, as one trustee vocalized he was now leaning against the legislation — at least in its current form.

“My apprehensions have turned to complete misgivings about this proposal,” Trustee Richard Yastrzemski said during the hearing Tuesday. “I have more questions than I have answers about this.”

Yastrzemski said the law could set a dangerous precedent. “I find it extremely disconcerting that they are already advertising a Southampton location,” he said of The Fresh Market. The chain had been listing a new store at 630 Hampton Road on its website as “Coming Soon,” but the listing was removed by Wednesday afternoon.

A spokeswoman for The Fresh Market said the business does not comment on projected store openings.

The Fresh Market has been in talks with the owners of an empty car dealership at that Hampton Road location, but Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley says the law was drafted to satisfy the real need for a new grocery store in the village, and not just to accommodate the owners of the dealership.

Epley and the village trustees said Tuesday that they constantly hear from residents that they need more grocery shopping options, and that they are dissatisfied with the village’s sole supermarket, .

However, critics said Tuesday that The Fresh Market would not offer an alternative to Waldbaum’s, as it is a gourmet food store and does not offer all the non-food goods typical of a supermarket.

Dennis Schmidt, the owner of in the village and a fierce opponent of the proposal, said the legislation has such a broad definition of a supermarket that any business that sells food could call itself a supermarket.

“At the very least you have to refine your definition of what a supermarket is,” Schmidt told the board. “You can’t exclude anybody based on that definition.”

He questioned what amendment would come next for the highway business zone if a food store is indeed built, then goes out of business five years later and sits empty. He added that dissatisfaction with Waldbaum’s is a temporary problem, as the store could change hands at any time.

Abe Wallach, a village resident who says he will sue the village if the law passes, said that if the village has a problem with Waldbaum’s, then the issues should be dealt with, rather than creating another problem someplace else.

Rick Hummrich, speaking for the board of the Hampton Road condo complex Southampton Meadows, said that while condo residents were initially happy about having a new grocery store, their feelings toward the proposal changed when they learned The Fresh Market’s prices would likely be more expensive than Waldbaum’s. “It is not going to cure the problems with Waldbaum’s,” he said.

Trustee Bonnie Cannon noted that while the conversation was centered on The Fresh Market, the legislation itself is about creating a new territory in the village for supermarkets to exist, and not about The Fresh Market specifically.

Under the legislation, a supermarket would be a special exception use, meaning that any application to build a market would need the approval of not just the Planning Board, but the Village Board as well.

The hearing continues Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. at .

Mary Beth January 25, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Fix Waldbaums and there will be no complaints. We do not NEED another grocery store.
Brendan J. O'Reilly (Editor) January 25, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Mary Beth, do you stay in the village to shop or trek to Hampton Bays and Bridgehampton?
Mary Beth January 25, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I drive to Hampton bays. I do not consider it a "trek" as it is only 10 minutes and well worth the savings. My husband even likes going there.
Jerry Can January 26, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Going to Hampton Bays is a bit of a trek but it can be worth it. The liquor store next to King Kullen is very good to. Then a trip to Cor-J's for seafood. And you can get plastic bags there too for your garbage can.
Roger Blaugh January 26, 2012 at 02:47 PM
The Board is doing the job we hired them to do and I applaud them! There seem to be two or three vocal opponents while the rest of the village has asked for another market for years. Citatella was rumored to be another grocer interested in coming to our village and everyone cheered. Fresh Market offers a far broader array of products, so we should be all the happier.
GOLD FINGER January 26, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Right on Roger ...right on brother. Pull up your boot straps local merchants the super stores are coming and you won't be able to stop them!! People have been getting over charged out here for things the need for way to long it's about time we finally get a break with good quality at reasonable affordable prices... Way overdue !!!
Mary Beth January 26, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Mr.Blaugh, your postings are usually thoughtful and factual, but to say that there are two or three vocal opponents and everybody else wants a new market is pure nonsense. Read the editorial in today's Southampton Press re: the way this proposal is being rushed through. They make a very good point and that is that Fresh Market is NOT an alternative to Waldbaums, but a new competitor for high-priced specialty markets like Citarella's and Schmidts. Greater convenience does not equal a better quality of life.
Brendan J. O'Reilly (Editor) January 26, 2012 at 07:33 PM
UPDATE: During the meeting a speaker said that Rite Aid did not extend its lease and will be vacating its Southampton Village store, which used to be a grocery store. However, I called Rite Aid public relations today and was told that the lease for the Southampton store was renewed in late fall.
Jerry Can January 26, 2012 at 11:55 PM
That is good news. Imagine only CVS. Would be a redux of the supermarket situation. But would be a great location for a smaller supermarket like a Best Yet.
Faustina January 27, 2012 at 12:00 AM
The fact that the "Fresh Market" is already trumpeting its Southampton branch and the $30. per pound cheese that a savy person reported on tells the whole story. Not just the cheese stinks.
Diane Sadowski February 01, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Lets get "BEST YET" and a supermarket. So tired of the elitest mentality. And plastic bags- get over it and move on. There are so many communities that have survived without the need of a plasitc bag. Even those in remote areas - not so elite-with no beaches see the environmental advantages.
John Gregory March 03, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Of course schmidts doesn't want the competition. Why can't our village leaders do what's right for the residents instead of continuing to cater to the local businesses and construction companies.

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