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Jun 1, 2016 10:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Ruling On Canoe Place Inn PDD Lawsuit Could Come Soon; Developers Have Not Started Construction At Hampton Bays Property

A decision has still not been made regarding a lawsuit filed a year ago by neighbors opposed to the Canoe Place Inn project in Hampton Bays.
Jun 1, 2016 1:10 PM

A ruling is expected in the next few weeks on a lawsuit challenging the Southampton Town Board’s 2015 approval of the Canoe Place Inn planned development district.

The proposal calls for the construction of 37 townhouses on the eastern bank of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays, and the restoration of the inn, along with the construction of a 300-seat catering hall, on the western side.

Southampton Town Attorney James Burke said this week that a ruling could come “any moment now” on the lawsuit filed last year by a group of residents, called Shinnecock Neighbors. They are opposed to the townhouse component of the project, which calls for the installation of a sewage treatment facility in their neighborhood. As part of their lawsuit, the neighbors also argue that project creates too much density on the 4.5-acre property, which runs along the eastern side of the canal.

The Town Board remains the only listed defendants in the lawsuit after State Supreme Court Justice William Rebolini, in October, dismissed both the Town Planning Board and the Town Trustees from the litigation, saying neither had a role in approving the special zoning called a planned development district, or PDD.

Mr. Burke said the court could either uphold the Town Board’s January 2015 ruling to approve the Canoe Place Inn PDD, or remand the application back to the board and require another look. He also noted that since there are three new people sitting on the Town Board, the result could be a potentially different outcome.

“There could be some aspect of the decision that the court would want the Town Board to look at,” Mr. Burke said. “It could be any moment now, but the decision from the Supreme Court hasn’t happened yet.”

Assistant Town Attorney Carl Benincasa explained this week that shortly after the Planning Board and Trustees were dropped from the suit, Shinnecock Neighbors filed a notice to appeal, but then later withdrew it.

The group’s attorney, Jennifer Juengst, did not return a call seeking comment this week.

It is unclear if the pending ruling has prompted the developers, cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler of Rechler Equity, to delay work on the project. The Town Board signed off on the PDD in January 2015, granting them permission to build 37 townhouses on 4.5 acres on the canal’s eastern shoreline and restore the original Canoe Place Inn so it can reopen as a 25-room inn with guest cottages. A 300-seat catering hall also is planned for the 5.6-acre property just west of the canal.

Gregg Rechler did not return multiple calls this week seeking an update on where the project now stands.

Mr. Benincasa, meanwhile, noted that there are no statues in place that would prevent the Rechlers from starting work on their project, even with the lawsuit still pending.

Their project was included on last week’s Town Planning Board agenda, specifically to discuss a shoreline stabilization plan for the properties. Charles Voorhis, managing partner of the Melville-based planning firm Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, explained to the board that the developer wants to install boulders along the shore to limit erosion if the area is ever hit with a significant storm.

Mr. Voorhis said he is confident that the rocks, which would likely be imported from upstate New York or Pennsylvania, would hold up in a storm as big as Hurricane Sandy. “It’s the best solution here,” he said.

Mr. Voorhis also noted that the old bulkhead along the eastern side of the canal, located where the townhouses will be constructed, would remain in place, and the existing boat basin would be utilized by future homeowners.

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By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Jun 1, 16 3:06 PM
First they came for the picnic area and truck beach, now they're trying to keep us out of Hampton Bays!

This is getting ridiculous how many lawsuits are currently on the dockett where w some party or another is trying to keep us out of our own backyards!?
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Jun 1, 16 4:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
... were these boulders in the original plan or is this something new ?
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jun 1, 16 4:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
The whole thing is a fookin debacle!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 1, 16 5:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
When the winter storms come - Mr. Voorhis - YOU go stand there and see how they hold up - will you please? Take a look at North Sea Beach - the western end - see how well the boulders are holding up there - NOT. Nearly buried after only 5 years. Plant beach grass if you want to top erosion. Proven to be the most effective and most cost efficient method. Look at the Montauk Lighthouse. Or go see what happens in a storm. Double dog dare you.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Jun 3, 16 4:38 PM
1 member liked this comment