It was lovefest at on Tuesday night, as members of the public thanked the town board profusely for putting the brakes on a proposed planned development district in Tuckahoe that they believed would have meant increased building density and serious traffic snarls.
The board voted unanimously that evening to discontinue review of developer Robert Morrow’s "Tuckahoe Main Street" mixed use planned development district change of zone petition. The vote came in the midst of a series of public hearings on overhauling the town's planned development district laws.
A planned development district is a zoning tool used to grant more density than is allowable by right in exchange for a community benefit.
The board recently denied the application for the Serenity Estates PDD in Eastport, making the Tuckahoe application the second PDD the board flat-lined in approximately a month.
“I cheered when I heard” both applications had been denied, said Bonnie Goebert, a co-chair of the chair.
“I want to thank the board for hearing what the people had to say,” said Bob Deluca, the president of the .
Goebert expressed concerns that a new supermarket, a key issue residents protested against in the Tuckahoe Main Street PDD, could still materialize, should Morrow's new proposal to rezone property along Country Road 39 to "shopping center business" become a reality. “Shopping center business might be the next PDD,” she said.
The erection of a King Kullen on County Road 39, she said, would sound the death knell for the Enclave Inn and a restaurant currently on the site and pose traffic and safety concerns on an already dangerous roadway. And, she added, should build facilities on the campus, as has been discussed, or the becomes a destination in Water Mill in the future, appropriate uses, such as galleries, should be considered, “not supermarkets or strip malls.”
At a meeting of the Monday night, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said members of the business community had some concerns about the PDD legislation and felt it burdensome to applicants. New revisions to the draft legislation include a PDD pre-submission application template that would provide substantive information to the board and public before an application moves forward.
At Tuesday’s town board meeting Aram Terchunian, president of the Southampton Business Alliance, thanked the board for the cooperative discourse and said the alliance is “100 percent in support of revising notification requirements” in the PDD process. “We think the PDD process needs work, but we don’t think it’s broken,” he said.
Terchunian questioned the placement of various sections of the PDD legislation, explaining he believes the evaluation process belongs in the formal application. “A lot of things that found their way into the pre-submission aspect belong in Part B,” he said.
Councilwoman Nancy Graboski agreed and said certain sections of the legislation might be moved for clarification.
Terchunian, who lives in Westhampton Beach, pointed to a PDD for an area that was once a drag strip, an example of a PDD he said “works really well.”
Community advocate Andrea Spilka disagreed, saying the Westhampton Beach PDD brought 189 units to the area without the promised community benefit.
Flanders-Riverside-Northampton Citizens Advisory Committee president Brad Bender suggested applicants be asked to demonstrate the fiscal validity of their proposed projects so that “white elephants,” such as the abandoned Bowl 58 plan in Riverhead and Allen’s Acres site in Southampton, don’t proliferate.
After the meeting, Throne-Holst pointed out that a preliminary market analysis is required in the existing PDD law, but in the proposed legislation, the requirement has been removed from the pre-submission stage to the formal application stage, an instance where pre-submission requirements have been reduced, rather than augmented.
Hampton Bays resident Eve Houlihan said she believed the methodology should be more clearly defined, with a list of hamlet-specific community benefits.
Throne-Holst said the goal is to strike a balance between needs of residents and the business community and developers. In light of the remaining concerns, “as much as I’m hungering to close this,” the supervisor said she would move to leave the hearing open.
The next, and fifth, public hearing, will be held at April 26 at 6 p.m.
Councilman Chis Nuzzi thanked Throne-Holst for “the inclusive process” and for agreeing to adjourn.