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Supermarket Law Fans Come Out of Woodwork

At the final Southampton Village public hearing on legislation to accommodate a new grocery store, supporters vie to be heard.

After two public hearings in which the critics dominated the conversation, fans of legislation proposed in Southampton Village to allow for a new grocery store spoke up at the final hearing Thursday.

The Village Board has yet to take a vote on the proposal, which would change the zoning code to allow a supermarket between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet to the built in the highway business district. While some supporters spoke up at the and public hearings, at the final hearing there were far more voices in favor as well as an abundance of letters.

While the law would apply to multiple properties in the highway business district, Walter Glennon, the owner of a defunct car dealership at the corner of Hampton Road and Flying Point Road, has already been talking to The Fresh Market, a North Carolina-based grocery chain, about building a store on his property. The Fresh Market went so far as to list the location on its website as “coming soon,” but later removed it. Craig Carlock, the president and CEO of The Fresh Market, wrote a letter to the Village Board that was read into the record Thursday apologizing for jumping the gun.

The board also received a 39 letters and emails between Monday and Thursday from supporters of the legislation — and supporters of that specific location being used for a supermarket.

“It is often not easy for older village residents to drive to neighboring towns to satisfy or supplement their grocery shopping options needs,” village residents Jacquelyn and John Crocker wrote. “We feel it would be a benefit to them and to all village residents to have another grocery shopping option within the village.”

Sharon Kerr wrote, “As a resident of the village, I would enjoy having an alternative to as well as seeing some sort of actual use of a very large, vacant and dilapidated building.”

“More options within Southampton Village are clearly needed,” wrote Water Mill resident Amy Cherry-Abitbol. “I know none of my neighbors and friends in Southampton who would not enthusiastically welcome new food markets.”

One email submitted to the Village Board contained an original message from Glennon, who urged people to attend Thursday’s hearing or to at least write the village saying they support the legislation.

“It is important to demonstrate public sentiment in favor of the proposed Amendment to the Village Zoning Code, specifically to allow for the Grocery Market use and for the construction of an appropriately sized building in the handful of parcels that constitute the Village Highway Business District,” Glennon’s message reads.

Glennon said opponents are a “vocal minority.”

Abe Wallach, who has spoken at length at each hearing and says he will sue the village if the legislation passes, continued Thursday to object to what he says is a zoning amendment designed specifically to accommodate The Fresh Market. “Without it saying it, it’s being geared to one property, one property in particular,” he said of the legislation.

While other speakers said the village needs more shopping choices, Wallach disagreed, pointing out that there are supermarkets in Bridgehampton and Hampton Bays, not far from the village. “Maybe Southampton is the cultural center, the restaurant center … but it just isn’t the supermarket center for the region,” he said.

Heather McCallion, a village resident and Southampton School Board member, did it not see it that way. “People who are raising families and taking care of children in the village don’t have the time to go to Hampton Bays,” she said.

Also speaking at Thursday’s hearing, village resident said, “I don’t see a reason not to have another store here … I think it’s good for the residents of this community to have more choices.”

Repeated criticisms of the legislation and Glennon site are the traffic that could be generated at an already busy intersection, that a 20,000-square-foot store will be too small for a true supermarket and therefore will not be an alternative to Waldbaum’s, and that the law was put on the table only after The Fresh Market showed interest in coming to Southampton.

If the legislation passes, anyone wishing to develop a supermarket will need site plan approval — and all the studies that entails — as well as the green light from the Village Board, since a supermarket will be considered a “special exception” use.

“They have to come on bended knee and convince us that the specific building their proposing is not going to be a traffic disaster,” Village Trustee Bill Hattrick said.

Postman Sharp February 15, 2012 at 12:09 AM
This parcel of land is not in a residential neighborhood. It is on the corner of CR39 and CR27 and situated in a highway business zone. There isn't a home within 200 feet. Across the street is the "Carvel Mall", the outdoor furniture store is on the diagonal corner surrounded by car dealerships and the solar company on the other. Next door is the SH Fire Department's barn, next to that is a HUGE office building and in the westerly direction is at least one office building, if not two (I can't recall). Would you rather see this run down car dealership? Another big office building? Or a nice market? If you've never visited a Fresh Market, you're in for a treat. And when the subject of Waldbaum's comes up in conversation, do you hear people say, "I wish we had a second market in the village" or do they say, "Gosh, I'm so glad we only have one place to buy our groceries"? I rest my case.
The Beav February 15, 2012 at 03:10 AM
This dealership and its parking lot were there before all of the residential properties to which you refer. The Glennons have a right to develop this property. If you would like the "final word", make them an offer they can't refuse. Otherwise, the Planning Board will make certain that the parking lot lighting of the Fresh Market or whoever goes into that space, even an office building, will have "zero" effect at the lot line. Those are the current standards they apply and it applies to everyone.
Nurse Ratchet February 15, 2012 at 03:21 AM
I don't know that we can afford to take valuable property off the tax rolls. Look at the mess in Hampton Bays. The CPF bought so much land, their taxes are through the roof and they're on a special tax relief program. No thanks. We need a market and we need to keep village taxes as low as they are now. The village board has done a great job of that and I want them to keep income in balance with expenses. I may be a blond, but I'm also a fiscal conservative (and a darrn good nurse).
Ralebird February 15, 2012 at 05:49 AM
You make reference to "exclusive" condominiums and "high end" homes as if the adjectives somehow add to your argument. They don't. If you live in one of those areas and choose to believe because of your description that your opinion is somehow more important than that of others here, it isn't. If the residents of those housing units chose to move into a commercial area they should be prepared to live in a commercial area in perpetuity without expecting it to become a wildlife preserve. On the other hand, I'm sure Mr. Glennon would entertain other offers to purchase his property. I believe current zoning would allow the new owner to raze the existing structure and plant wildflowers if that was their desire. There would still be a problem however, of the small office building just west of the derelict property which actually abuts the closest condominium development. Who knows what might be proposed for that site?
sdf February 16, 2012 at 04:56 AM
As someone who is not in favor of siting a market on this particular parcel, I think the concerns raised regarding intersection hazards and residential disruption are strongly valid and shared by many of the people I have spoken to. And I applaud East Hampton on their successful conversion of unused commercial space to green space.

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