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Tuckahoe Supermarket Plan Leaps a Hurdle

In a 4-1 vote, the Town Board permits Robert Morrow’s Southampton Venture to submit a formal change-of-zone application.

A majority of members of the Southampton Town Board elected Tuesday to allow a supermarket developer to submit an application to change the zone of 7.26 acres along County Road 39 — a plan that brought out both critics and supporters to Tuesday’s board meeting.

Developer Robert Morrow’s LLC, Southampton Venture, seeks to build a shopping center anchored by a King Kullen supermarket, but before he can go to the Planning Board with his proposal, the Town Board must first approve changing the area currently zoned for highway business and residential to the "shopping center business" zone. While Tuesday's vote still leaves Morrow with a ways to go before meeting final approval, he has cleared a hurdle that critics hoped would have stopped the plan in its tracks.

Morrow's proposal, , is a scaled-down version of his earlier application for a planning development district, Tuckahoe Main Street, which . The revised plan includes a 40,000-square-foot supermarket, a 15,000-square-foot retail building and a 3,500-square-foot bank.

Southampton-Shinnecock Hills-Tuckahoe Citizens Advisory Committee Chair Bonnie Goebert said the committee is to the change of zone, and had stern words for the Town Board: “We are here today to watch five elected officials ignore the public outcry,” she said. “The project counters everything we cherish on the East End.”

Ultimately, four board members voted in favor of the reviewing the application, while Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, D-Noyac, dissented.

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, I-Noyac, acknowledged that the application comes with controversy, but said that until there is a formal application, all aspects of the proposal cannot be studied and public input will not be part of the application’s record.

The Town Board met with Morrow's representatives in March during a "pre-submission work session," to learn about the plan and begin to consider whether to allow him to submit an application or to tell him is does not stand a chance and should go no further.

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Fleming said the proposal seems inconsistent with studies that supported limiting businesses with a high volume of traffic on County Road 39 and said the building is two-and-a-half times bigger than what studies propose as a limit on the size of highway businesses. She said she wants to wait to proceed until the that is underway is complete.

Southampton Condos board member Anthony Scotty decried the plan, telling the Town Board that the proposed supermarket entrance will be 250 feet from the Hubbard Lane entrance to his community.

“We believe that the quality of our lifestyle with be depreciated,” he told the board. “The traffic congestion that will be generated by the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week operation will provide a great deal of noise, air quality and all of the other issues.”

But area resident Jay Durante and other speakers at Tuesday's meeting favored the plan. “We have to drive to Southampton or Hampton Bays to go to the supermarket,” he said. “To get a value like you do in King Kullen, it means a drive. I feel that having a supermarket [in Tuckahoe] will better serve the community.” 

Durante said a new supermarket will not only cut down on travel time, but it also won’t change traffic flow because residents already take County Road 39 to get to a grocery store.

Southampton resident Richard Seacord agreed. “We need a modern supermarket,” he said. “I think the supermarket should be on the highway and is a necessity.”

Other supporters also cited the convenience of having a bigger supermarket closer to home.

Tuckahoe resident said that Southampton Venture has failed to identify a need for a supermarket. He said that while the developer says the supermarket will serve 48,000 people, the 2012 Census of North Sea, Tuckahoe and Shinnecock Hills showed a population of no more than 8,000. 

“There are already two King Kullen megamalls in seven miles,” he added.

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Southampton-Shinnecock Hills-Tuckahoe CAC member Susan Van Olst said she drove to each of the existing area supermarkets — in Hampton Bays, Southampton and Bridgehampton — and none took longer than 16 minutes to get to. “It is very easy to get to these supermarkets,” she said. “I don't see a need for another. There is a difference between need and want. What if we want a Petco or Best Buy?”

She pointed to a recent supermarket proposal in Westhampton Beach Village that did not get very far. “The mayor of Westhampton Beach doesn't jump — he was presented with a supermarket and he said no. He said, ‘It doesn't meet the zoning so we won't have it here.’”

Meadow Lane June 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM
“We are here today to watch five elected officials ignore the public outcry,” This should be the battle cry of the opposition to this Mall. An entire community and the CACs that represent them have been ignored in this vote. Outrageous!
Hazel Wilkonson the First June 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Time for the local democratic party to nominate an actual democrat for supervisor.
Peconic Sunset June 15, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Kudos to Bridget Fleming for respecting the CR 39 planning study. Confirming this project is in alignment with the long range strategy is the prudent thing to do.
David D'Agostino June 15, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Given the choice of voting no on a development that clearly falls outside of allowable uses recommended in the Town's Master plan, and the current country road 39 study, or granting Morrow the go ahead for another mega-mall, the board, as usual, sided with the developer. I was one of many who spoke at the meeting, addressing the board on what we knew would, in the end be a yes vote. After the public got its chance to speak, and before they voted, Ms Throne-Holst wanted to make it clear that no decision had yet been made. Five minutes later she Malone, Nuzzi, and Scalera voted yes. If it is built, this Mega-mall, the latest spot-zoning monstrosity to be dumped on Tuckahoe, will forever stand as Throne-Holst's legacy. We may not have the wherewithal to match developer contributions to the revolving-door political system, but we do still have our votes. Thank you to Ms. Fleming for having the courage to admit that this plan is wrong for our town.
Jaguar-Guy June 15, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Exactly what we do not want and not need and yet, they vote for it anyway. Typical.
Jerry Can June 15, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I am glad that the Town Board is still keeping an open mind to the KK at Tuckahoe. I shop at Walbaums usually but like to go to the KK in Bridgehampton and Hampton bays when I'm there. There is so much more choice at KK than Waldbaums. So hopefully something can be done to allow this project to go forward while being sensitive to the area residents. This will be off tremendous benefit to most people.
Bonnie Goebert June 15, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Thanks, Brendan, for doing a good job of reporting the facts and the issues, as opposed to the pro-Morrow reporting that appeared in the Press. They even described the 40,000 sf King Kullen as "30,000" sf. I think that Patch is a great asset to the community. For or against this mega-mall, at least you write a fair and impartial account of what's happening.
Faustina June 16, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I completely agree with Bonnie Goebert's comment. about the difference in reporting the same event between Patch and The SH Press. The Press reporter known for years as Michael Wrong continues to skew whatever he chooses to cover. He is selective and biased. And he is allowed (encouraged?) to do it. I also agree with David D'agostino that the Board insisting that it had not made its mind up demonstrates with its united vote that it had-- in the usual back room fashion. Isn't there anyone out there fit to run for the Board? Must everyone come from Brookhaven or Cashin Associates? The female component preening up there has set the cause of feminism back about 200 years. And the men are hardly vigorous. ATH seems to think it is a reality show. How dreary. How expensive for the tax payers. And how much damage will the leave before we are finally free of them..
Fran June 16, 2012 at 02:07 AM
As a former Bridehampton resident, and now a Southampton resident at Hampton Cub II on Hubbard, I am totally against another mega supermarket in the f Hubbard Lane area. . It is bad enough to have the large trucks from the Pit, with the noise and dirt traveling down Magee St. If they want to develop the land, have a Whole Foods small country maket, like the one in Wainstott. Working great there.. We are losing the small town lifestyle, that so many of the year round residents chose to move to the East End for. When is local gov't going to listen and work for what the local people want, , and stop doing favors for the big developers. Could it be the large contributions ATH-Hol??????
Georgette Chapek June 16, 2012 at 01:12 PM
The amount of trafic on narrow streets is going to increase as people try to avoid COuntry Rd 39. Once this monster is allowed to be built more will follow. Having King kullen approx 7 miles in either direction is close enough. KIng KUllens prices are very high and will not be cost saving for the local people. We do need another grocery store but not KK, Whole Foods maket or the proposed store on the other side of the VIllage would be better.
Diane Sadowski June 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I am glad that they are going forward with reviewing the application. It is the right thing to do to make clear decisions that are not blurred by personal visions.There are many community members that are not opposed to the Tuckahoe center and the oppossing forces are a small vocal goup. The PPD plan presented was quite nice with good property "set backs" and community benefits. I applaud our Town Supervisor and board for moving forward with the studies. It is time to come to some sort of conclusion. The Tuckahoe center will be a good thing for the community. There are some wonderful models accross the country in historical towns that prove a center like this will enhance Tuckahoe. It is not a matter of "needs vs. wants" as has been suggested by some. That is a very subjective argument. Not everyone needed a Mercedes dealership, and some will never go there. It is matter of what is good for the community at large. Many persons, old and young would like to see the center as a reality. Needed or wanted!!!!
David D'Agostino June 16, 2012 at 02:36 PM
It is curious how Ms. Sadowski and the Developer attempt to portray the mega-mall opposition as a "small, vocal group" when the evidence to the contrary is so easily verifiable. Even the Tuckahoe CAC,of which she is a member, is opposed in majority to the mega-mall. Read the Southampton Press and see how many people of varied backgrounds have written letters against this development. Go back to the last time the public was given a chance to comment openly on this project at the Tuckahoe School where over 100 people showed up and over 80% of them rejected this proposal outright. Attend one of the town board meetings where the number of people speaking against the project is always greater and more varied than the number of friends Mr. Morrow assembles to speak on his behalf. Want is subjective, but need is not. Need is a legal standard and, when used as a rationale for blowing a hole in zoning restrictions, must be quantified as such. Attempting to "marginalize" the opposition is a tactic that will not work, Ms Sadowski and "convenience" is a weak argument in favor of a 60,000 square foot monster of suburban excess.
Hazel Wilkonson the First June 16, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Ms Sadowski is using the laziest tactic on the books: when you have no argument for, a attack those who are against
Faustina June 16, 2012 at 04:23 PM
"Clear decisions that are not blurred by personal visions?" Is Diane Sadowski writing from Disneyland or Morrowland? This is an ill-advised, muddied, land speculation deal; a 'package' being cobbled together by a prospective landlord. I agree that the Board is not acting from personal visions -- they have no visions. They are as undistinguished as dirt and can see no further than to appease any and all developers. Political contributions, anyone??? Anyone who doesn't understand that personal 'wants" vs. community needs is not a subjective argument is befuddled. And that is a comfortable place from which to shoot off your mouth when you have nothing to say, and nothing to back up what you say.
Faustina June 16, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Why refer to "models across the country" as stated above. when discussing a Morrow or King Kullen project, simply go and look at the half-empty example in Hampton Bays, or Manorville, or any other ugly, suburban mall with oversized mega markets spaced a few miles apart-- all too vast, all too desperately trying to emulate Walmart. As for Mr. Durante's lament that he has to travel to get as good a value as he gets at KK, it is obvious he doesn't "do" supermarkets. King Kullen is generic, and very, very over priced. The last thing KK offers is "value".
Peconic Sunset June 17, 2012 at 08:05 PM
That is pretty typical up island when housing developments were started; a strip mall would be co-located. I don't live in Tuckahoe but I sure hope my hamlet doesn't adopt this model.
susan June 18, 2012 at 11:30 PM
it is NOT a small group that opposes the tuckahoe center. About 100 people showed up at a community meeting. The overwhelming number of letters to the editor are against this massive overdevelopment. It sounds like you are being hoodwinked by visions of set backs and so called community benefits. there's no benefit to the traffic that will be clogging our village streets (moses lane will be inundated) nor the impossible gridlock on CR39 on summer friday nights nor the loss of business to our village shops. bob gibbs, economic planning consultant for historic villages, stated clearly that locating another supermarket outside the village will be a death knell for the village. as for want vs need, basic economics teaches us that want is something you'd like to have; a need is something you have to have. we don't have to have yet another supermarket; we already have 5 located less than 8 miles west and 5 1/4 miles east of sh village. Enough!!
Ralebird June 19, 2012 at 12:09 AM
I agree with DS. Whether this is "overdevelopment" is a matter of opinion, calling it "massive" is massive exaggeration.
Ralebird June 19, 2012 at 12:21 AM
First, this proposal is for a supermarket, a bank and a couple of other stores - none of this even slightly approaches the definition of a megamall except in the twisted lexicon of alarmists trying to spread propaganda. Second, without polling each and every person within fifty miles, there is no way to judge the degree of opposition. Certainly those opposed would be much more incentivized to attend meetings, write letters and characterize this proposal as a "monster of suburban excess."
Mary Beth June 19, 2012 at 12:33 AM
The bridgehampton mega-Kullen is 3200 square feet, this mega-monster is 40,000 with an additional 18,000 square feet of retail space. This proposal is the definition of mega. Trying to say it is easier to oppose and that is why you never hear from any supporters aside from the few friends that Morriw gathers for meetings is beyond laughable. You want mega- suburbia, move up island and take DS with you, please
Peconic Sunset June 19, 2012 at 02:49 PM
There is really nothing positive for our town in this proposal. Another brick and mortar bank when banking is increasing done on line, assorted retail space which doesn't seem to be lacking and another King Kullen, making three KK within a few miles. I find KK to be expensive, as are most grocery stores, due to the cost of food. I don't expect any supermarket to take a loss, so more of the same. Add to this the increase in traffic on R 39, this is not really going to help us much.
Ralebird June 20, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Wrong! The Bridgehampton King Kullen is much larger than you state, 32,000 square feet perhaps, but probably larger.
Dennis Schmidt January 24, 2013 at 05:52 PM
it's mind blowing to me that in this day and age of statistics and facts that all this effort is being made without a true demographic study to determine what's truly needed. Sh Village is also guilty of this in trying to help an old friend get a backdoor zoning change. How about at least a referrendum and let the residents decide our fate!! We will be shooting ourselves in the foot to continue developing when there is no appreciable (nor will there be) increase in population ! Upstate people travel 30-40 miles to get to a big shopping center or supermarket. Count your blessings!!!!

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