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Town Board Hears From Public on Tuckahoe Center Impact

First scoping session held on environmental study of supermarket development proposal.

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.

Stinker December 04, 2012 at 10:42 AM
Do you start with the lime and the coconut and mix it all in?
Peconic Sunset December 04, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Seriously, people make incredible claims about conclusions from technical models without explaining the limitations of the model and we are expected to "feel good" about this environmentally friendly project. Seems a bit more explanation is needed before we succumb to strip mall construction on a dangerous road, that is also not in alignment with the master plan for CR 39.
Hazel Wilkonson the First December 04, 2012 at 02:43 PM
This board would approve replacing town hall with a target if there was a big enough donation attached to the proposal
Wanda December 10, 2012 at 05:00 PM
This is all completely unacceptable. We all had to pay "welcome to the Hamptons" tax mainly to ensure that this part of the island will NOT have unnecessary commercial developments. If this stupid King Kullen project gets approved we should get our money back and maybe even sue SH Town if they approve it. Again - there is no need for it! If anyone is reading it who is in the position of stopping it - please do the right thing! Please remember what the Hamptons is all about - definitely not another supermarket creating traffic and looking horrible!
Bob Schepps December 11, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Whoa Wanda a "welcome to the Hampton's tax". That sums it up for me. So you "paid" a premium to be here so as a customer of the hampton's real estate market you are entitled to keeping things the way they were when you bought in. That really frames the other end of the political spectrum. You have the far left as socialists and the far right as capitalist robber barons. These are supposed to be COMMUNITIES not COMMODITIES. You can't buy exclusion and gated community zoning in a free market. We have rules that are the zoning laws. Maybe you should move to a gated TOWN somewhere your money trumps all else. Now those opposed to my position that the Tuckahoe Redevelopment should take place might see a conflict with these positions. Again the property rights issue is what is the principle here and with Wanda

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