The public had a chance to weigh in Tuesday at a scoping session on what potential environmental impacts a proposed zoning change could have if approved in Tuckahoe — and opinions were mixed.
The application calls for changing 7.26 acres along County Road 39 — currently zoned Highway Business and Residential — into a Shopping Center Business zone, to allow for a shopping center anchored by a supermarket, dubbed Tuckahoe Center.
Members of the public were asked to share what concerns they have over the zoning change proposal by developer Robert Morrow's Southampton Ventures LLC, to determine what should be examined during an environmental review.
The input received at the scoping session could be included in a study to prepare a draft environmental impact statement on the proposal, as required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
Before the floor was opened to the public, town planning and development administrator Kyle Collins explained, “The specific purpose of scoping is to narrow the issues and to ensure that the draft EIS will be concise, accurate — a complete document that will be adequate for public review.”
He added, “It is not the intent of this hearing tonight to express support for the application or your objections to the application.”
However, that caveat did not stop many speakers from expressing whether they are in favor of the plan or opposed.
John Wagner, a Hauppauge attorney speaking on behalf of the applicant, summarized the proposal. He said Tuckahoe Center is to include a 40,000-square-foot supermarket, 8,400-square-foot retail building, 6,600-square-foot retail building and 3,500-square-foot bank. There are plans for 217 parking spaces.
According to Wagner, under the existing zoning on the parcels, there could be 60,000-square feet of development, while Tuckahoe Center calls for just 58,500.
The supermarket will be modern, and mid-distance between existing supermarkets in Bridgehampton and Hampton Bays, Wagner said, giving an estimate that the project will eliminate 700,000 vehicle miles annually. He said it would provide temporary construction jobs, and permanent office and retail jobs, while reinvigorating the area with upscale development.
"The goal of the project, essentially, is to set a new benchmark for both attractive and sustainable development in the County Road 39 corridor," Wagner said.
The plans include attractive plantings of native species, permeable pavement, solar panels and other environmentally sustainable features, he added.
Southampton-Shinnecock Hills-Tuckahoe Citizens Advisory Committee member Bob Schepps agreed that the project could set a new standard for County Road 39 development — rather than the "helter skelter" development that exists. But he urged the Town Board to make sure that Morrow's promises come to fruition. "I say hold his feet and his lawyer's feet and his architect's feet to the fire, and make that happen," Schepps said.
Southampton-Shinnecock Hills-Tuckahoe CAC member Susan Van Olst said she wants to see extensive studies of existing traffic in the area and the new traffic Tuckahoe Center could bring.
Van Olst was skeptical of existing traffic studies that have been offered. She said that for traffic information to be relevant, it should be collected during the summer of 2013, and should sample more than one day to be statistically relevant. She was especially concerned with how supermarket traffic could affect the nearby Tuckahoe School.
Bonnie Goebert, the chair of the Southampton-Shinnecock Hills-Tuckahoe Citizens Advisory Committee, addressed the Town Board as well, though she said she was speaking on behalf of herself rather than the committee.
Goebert challenged the assertion that a third King Kullen is necessary between Hampton Bays and Bridgehampton, and said she wants an independent study to prove or disprove whether it is really the case. She also told the board that whether or not a project includes solar panels and other environmentally friendly measures should have no bearing on a zone change.
Ann LaWall, a Water Mill resident and the former executive director of the Southampton Business Alliance, endorsed the Tuckahoe Center plan. She was among a number of speakers who said they want to see another grocery shopping option nearby.
Jay Durante, of Shinnecock Hills, said, “I believe we as a community actually do need an additional supermarket for convenience — lowers our travel time, provides an alternative — and I also think it provides us with a way to have a positive impact on our envirmentall by driving less than we do now to go to one of those other markets.”
Local resident Frances Genovese, who identified herself as president of the Association of Southampton Neighborhoods, told the Town Board that among her concerns is the delivery truck traffic that the supermarket will bring, and the economic impact of the project.
The scoping session was adjourned and will continue at the Town Board's 1 p.m. meeting on Dec. 11.
Do you have strong feelings on this project? Write your thoughts in a blog post on Southampton Patch.