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Grocers Decry New Supermarket Plan

Legislation under consideration would accommodate a new grocery store in Southampton Village — and owners of existing supermarkets are not happy about it.

A proposed change to the Southampton Village zoning code to allow a new grocery store in the highway business district came under fire at Thursday's village board meeting by two of the men who stand to lose the most if the law passes.

Mike DeGennaro of in Water Mill and Dennis Schmidt of called into question the need for another village supermarket, which would draw business away from their establishments. They had attended the meeting to hear a planned presentation by Southampton Village Planning Commission Chairman Siamak Samii on the proposal, but his presentation was rescheduled.

The law would affect nine parcels in the highway business district, but one in particular — the site of a closed car dealership — is being seriously eyed for a supermarket.

Mayor Mark Epley pointed out that passing the law does not mean a supermarket would be automatically approved; it would have to go through the normal process with the planning board and, because it would be considered a "special exception use," also need the green light from the village board.

“It doesn’t guarantee any property owner that they’re going to be able to do something,” he said of the law. “It affords the potential of an opportunity."

Schmidt said that in 1978, before he owned his first market, he was reamed out by the village building inspector for suggesting zoning be changed to allow for a grocery store in a certain location. He said the building inspector lectured him on the merits of zoning.

“Here we are 30 years later … and basically that’s what we’re doing. We're changing the zoning to accommodate something or someone,” Schmidt said.

With large supermarkets in both Hampton Bays and Bridgehampton, a short drive from the village, Schmidt said he doesn't see the need for a 20,000-square-foot grocery store in the village.

But Epley told Patch in November that village residents have embraced the idea of having a new supermarket. When they were up in arms against the , a new supermarket was the one idea in that proposal they liked, he said.

Schmidt says he struggles to pay bills in the winter months, when business is slower, and a new supermarket will only add to his difficulties. “We’re cutting up the pie," he said. "We’re really cutting it up.”

Schmidt also suggested that the proposed zoning change was being discussed in December, with a January public hearing slated, because many residents will have left for Florida and elsewhere. "Discuss it when there's people around," he told the board.

DeGennaro said he was the only member of the public to speak at the hearing the planning commission held before presenting the zoning change to the village board. He told the board a new grocery store would take market share away from his business.

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Roger Blaugh December 10, 2011 at 07:29 PM
To Mary Beth, I was very much a part of the opposition to the Tuckahoe Mall and I can accurately and honestly report to you that the VAST majority of opponents to that unfortunate projected expressed one wish and one wish only...a second market for Village residents. The former Glennon dealership sits empty and a business the size of the proposed market WILL eventually go into that space. Be it a car dealership, an office building or (I'll hold my nose when I say this) another bank or real estate office. So why not a second market for area residents to enjoy? I'm not fond of the only other nearby choice being a King Kullen five miles to the east or a King Kullen five miles to the west. I'd like to see a third grocery provider with interesting products that we don't find in the large chain stores who serve us now. Citarella would be a nice choice, but the rumor mill says it's...oops...don't want to add to the gossip. You'll have to wait and see. Happy shopping!
Bob Schepps December 11, 2011 at 12:02 AM
I think the fact that this is a zone change is being lost in the argument about whether or not we need or want anther grocer. The point about wanting an alternative to Walbaums is a very strong one however it does not trump this spot zoning effort by the Village. Kicking the decision down the road to various boards is really pushing off the responcibility. If the Village board wants this politically, then they should commit to it and face the fallout or credit. If no site is suitable with current zoning then so be it. Zoning provides certainty for residential and commercial properties so investments can be made to both. Spot zoning picks winners and losers based on politics and monied interests. Its a beautiful drive to Bridgehampton Commons. Ps I find it offensive for comments that are not signed with real names.
Michele December 11, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Avanti market is a joke,, I am not sure how he thinks he could last another year.......... the place is like a dark hole in the middle of the earth.the food is spoiled and the people there are unaware of anything in the store. the place is a messs. and its a shame. it could and should be a gold mine. I loved shopping there when it was citerella even though It wasnot great it was easy. but now its a drive by.......... please bring in whole foods or trader joes.......... we need some real food with some comitition in prices as well as food....... Please......... if we can have a ugly over stiffed pier one on the highway we can hae a new store to shop for food.... Avanti has to go maybe they should just go buy thier lease........... it would make life grand!
David D'Agostino December 11, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Bob, your comments re: spot zoning are spot on. And Mary Beth is correct, it is imperative that we separate needs and wants.
Kim December 12, 2011 at 01:40 PM
This is beautiful. "Zoning provides certainty for residential and commercial properties so investments can be made to both. Spot zoning picks winners and losers based on politics and monied interests." Thank you Bob, Long Island seems to be addicted to zone changes in every town I am visiting while back on the Island after a long absence. And for the record I use my real name, my first name and not my last, as I know there are crazy people out there that could easily track people down from blogs if they ever are in opposition to a developers project or ....well....people are just crazy!!!. I saw this happen first hand to a friend of mine I am now staying with until my Grand Mother's house is done being repaired.

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