The Southampton Village Board had it out again Tuesday with one of the of a to be built in the Highway Business district.
Abraham Wallach, a village resident who has promised to sue if the Village Board adopts the supermarket legislation, came before the board during Tuesday evening’s work session to pitch an alternative plan that he says would resolve the village’s need for a new supermarket while avoiding changes to the zoning code and a costly lawsuit over allegations of illegal spot zoning.
“You don’t need two supermarkets,” he told the board.
Wallach is proposing that the village buy the existing grocery store on Jagger Lane and two adjacent lots, one with a physical therapist’s office and the other a historic house owned by the . He said a combined parcel would encompass 3 acres, allowing for an expansion of the supermarket with sufficient parking. The supermarket could be two stories with an escalator, he said.
Village Board members saw the plan as fundamentally flawed.
“You have to have willing property owners,” Mayor Mark Epley told Wallach.
But Wallach pointed out that , and suggested making fair market appraisals and using eminent domain to buy the Waldbaum’s and physical therapist’s office if the owner does not want to sell. The village would then put out a request for proposal to find a supermarket chain interested in redeveloping the lot, he said.
Wallach, a retired city planner, said he would aid the village in the process pro bono. “There are developers in New York that pay me thousands of dollars an hour, and I am offering you my services for nothing,” he said.
Village Trustee William Hattrick was skeptical that they could find any developer or supermarket to get on board with the plan. He told Wallach, “Someone’s got to spend maybe $20 million to double the size of the store, and suppose they don’t want to do it?”
Wallach suggested developer Robert Morrow, who is so he can build a shopping center on County Road 39, would be up to the task. “He would be one of the first people who would knock on the door and say I’ll do it,” Wallach said.
The suggestion did not quell Hattrick’s doubts. “You can’t just put a gun to somebody’s head,” he said. And the suggestion of the village compelling the owner of the Waldbaum’s property to sell by condemning the land did not sit well with him either. “Holy Jesus — and you’re worried about legal fees?” he told Wallach.
Epley agreed to review Wallach’s plans, but did not offer any support of the idea. “I don’t know if the village wants to put itself in a position of condemning an active supermarket, a historic house and a physical therapist’s office,” he said.
Wallach denied a request to give a copy of the architect’s plans to Patch at this time, saying he only wants to share them with the Village Board for now.