A for a shopping center anchored by a supermarket in Tuckahoe is being met with ire by the Southampton-Shinnecock Hills-Tuckahoe Citizens Advisory Committee just as the first iteration of the plan did.
For the committee, the controversy speaks to a larger issue than one shopping center — it is about traffic and congestion in their community and on County Road 39, Southampton's primary thoroughfare.
Members of the committee, who are appointed by the Town Board, say that the supermarket plan contradicts a draft study of the County Road 39 corridor that aims to improve traffic flow and quality of development on the corridor, including design guidelines, gateways, pedestrian crossings and more greenery.
“The tension and the controversy isn't really over this current proposal, but it's longstanding,” acting Town Planning and Development Administrator Freda Eisenberg told the committee at a March 6 meeting. She noted that the corridor has more “special interest” sites than just the proposed supermarket — it also has , the fairgrounds and a driving range, all of which some residents fear could be redeveloped into something undesirable.
The shopping center proposal, put forward by developer Robert Morrow, includes a 40,000-square-foot supermarket, a 15,000-square-foot retail building and a 3,500 square foot bank. Before he can get his site plan approved, Morrow would need the Town Board to agree to change 7.3 acres currently zoned Highway Business to Shopping Center Business.
Though the plan is smaller than Morrow's original proposal on 12.4 acres, committee members concerns about increased traffic on County Road 39 have not been placated.
“No one really understand what it’s like to have children … going in an out of that road, crossing that road,” said committee member Lorraine Duryea. “More traffic on that road will be detrimental to everybody.”
Town planners are also looking at , a move that could help fill empty buildings on County Road 39. Eisenberg said the idea has been met with some opposition, but she noted that it is not part of the corridor study. Rather, a townwide project is looking at the town’s table of uses in the different zones and considering switching from the Standard Industrial Classification system to the newer North American Standard Industrial Classification.
Eisenberg said that under the current system, different town departments may classify the same business different ways. For instance, she said a department could consider a yoga studio “instruction,” while another classifies the same studio as “health and fitness.”
A town committee will go through each possible use and determine what is appropriate for each district, she said.
Committee member Bob Schepps suggested that the town just leave zoning be and let developers do what they can do as-of-right — and no more.
“Stop the up zoning, down zoning, sideways zoning, the square and obtuse zoning,” Schepps said.
Committee Chair Bonnie Goebert was also concerned about altering zoning. “It’s there for a reason,” she said. “It’s there to protect the property owners.”
“Is it a precedent?” Duryea said. “That’s the question we have to ask ourselves."
There will be a Town Board work session regarding the zoning change proposal on Friday. If the board does decide to put a zoning to a vote, there will be a public hearing beforehand, said Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera, who attended the committee’s March 6 meeting, along with Councilman Chris Nuzzi.