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Nov 21, 2016 1:05 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tuckahoe Center Developer Appeals Dismissal Of Lawsuit Against Suffolk County Planning Commission

Nov 25, 2016 8:44 AM

The developer of the Tuckahoe Center is appealing a dismissal of his lawsuit against the Suffolk County Planning Commission alleging that several members were biased against his proposal to build a shopping center, including a supermarket, on County Road 39.

The application has bounced between the commission and the Southampton Town Board ever since a more ambitious proposal failed to win the Planning Commission’s support last December. A revised version, slightly smaller, proposes to rezone three adjoining properties along the southeastern side of County Road 39, from highway business to shopping center business zoning. Additionally, it asks for a change of zone for a fourth lot to create a 50 foot buffer zone that adjoins the northeastern side of Magee Street—which would have to be changed from residential to shopping center business zoning. The change of zone would clear the way for a grocery store and additional commercial space in three separate buildings, all on 7.26 acres.

Developer Robert Morrow of Southampton Venture LLC recently submitted an appeal of the dismissed suit, which alleges that two of the commission members who originally rejected his application should have recused themselves due to personal bias.

At its October meeting, the commission labeled the revised application “incomplete,” an atypical decision, as it generally votes to recommend only that a town either approve, reject or call for modification of a project. One of the concerns raised in the commission’s decision was the pending lawsuit from Mr. Morrow and what legal implications that would mean for any decision made by the commission.

The commission then sent a letter to the Southampton Town Board saying it lacked the information it needed to make a final recommendation. Then, in November, town officials sent a letter back to commission, asking its members to take action on the revised Tuckahoe Center application beyond simply labeling it as “incomplete.” In the letter, town officials said the commission had all the information it needed to make a final recommendation.

According to James Burke, the town attorney, the commission needs to take action within 45 days of the receipt of the letter, which was dated November 3.

Because there has been no ruling by the commission, it’s unclear whether the board would need a supermajority to allow the change of zone. Jennifer Casey, the Planning Commission’s chairwoman, said earlier this month that due to the revised nature of the application, she believed the previous vote against the zone change would remain in effect without an updated ruling to approve or reject the revised plan. That would mean a supermajority of four Town Board members would be required to approve the zone changes.

However, Mr. Burke said that since the commission did not make a determination on the revised plan, it is possible that, because no rejection was issued, the Town Board may need only a simple majority vote to approve the zone changes. But he noted that the board does not intend to make a decision on the application without feedback from the commission.

Now, with Mr. Morrow appealing the dismissal of the lawsuit—which brings the litigation back into play—it is unclear what the next step will be for a decision on the project.

“They got an opinion from the town—I have no idea what they’re going to do,” Mr. Morrow said last week. “I have no idea what to expect. This has never happened before.”

Both times the application has gone before the commission, a staff report filed by the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning recommended approving the change of zone. Typically, the commission goes along with the recommendation of the staff, so this also makes both rulings on the project highly unusual.

Ms. Casey declined to comment before deadline, explaining that she needed to discuss the next steps with the county’s legal team because of the project’s “unusual situation.” The Tuckahoe Center proposal is on the commission’s agenda for its December 7 meeting at 2 p.m. at the Riverhead County Center. However, Ms. Casey said that the agenda is not finalized yet.

“My main concern is the lawsuit with the pending application,” she had said earlier this month. “A developer shouldn’t use litigation as a tool to try to influence us. It’s unfair.”

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Seriously, how many times/ways does this guy need to be told NO. Regardless of how you feel about this project when and idea is rejected for a valid reason over and over and over again the developer needs to stop. The fact that he threatens volunteers with law suits just goes to show what a jerk this guy is. Then again, in this country if you threaten everyone with a law suit you can become president.
By Corwin1879 (40), Southampton on Nov 21, 16 4:53 PM
More crying over the recent election huh? #getoverit
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 21, 16 9:50 PM
#getoverit @corwin

Trump is here to stay and we're going to develop everything we can in the next 4 years!!!!! Finally.

We'll get that speed limit on 39 bumped up to 65mph as well!!! And we'll make it 45 on Hill St. And 114 should be 65mph too.
And we'll do away with your precious little 'no wake' zones.

#getoverit woooooooooo

By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Nov 21, 16 10:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
I have to disagree with you, Corwin1879. The application was not rejected "over and over again". It was bull-rushed at the county commission by Barbara Roberts and David Calone in a very questionable single commission vote (some might even say it was "rigged"). So, it is back in front of them, with changes, and they need to vote again. Hopefully, they will concur with their own professional staff recommendations. Your assertion that it has been denied in any other fashion is not accurate.

The ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 22, 16 9:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, agree.

As we know, most of our local officials are corrupt and our voting / board decisions have all been proven to be rigged over and over again.

It is this constant vigilance that really helps us to stay ahead of the curve. And while none of this is ever really proven and there is not really any evidence to support it, it certainly makes for lively and distracting chatter from our regular old boring lives.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Nov 22, 16 10:32 AM
Just for the record, I don't personally believe most of our local politicians are corrupt, but that's just me. I do think, at the county level, for that one particular vote, there was some irregular activity going on, and it was clear in the diatribe that Barbara Roberts delivered then, with its pseudo-facts and the regurgitating of debunked talking points of others, that she was trying to pass herself off as an expert on something she likely was not all that intimately familiar with.
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 22, 16 1:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
Barbara Roberts hyperbole was comical. Dave Calones vote was fodder to elevate his name among East End Liberals. (He announced his candidacy for NY 1 Congressman the next day and was interviewed by the Press about Tuckahoe Center, naming him as a Congressional Candidate).

We need a grocery store in SH Village, or nearby. Especially with all of the new homes being built in that area. And we can't afford anymore CPF purchases in the Tuckahoe School District, taking tax dollars from the already ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 23, 16 7:05 AM
We're strangled by traffic not starving for food. Say no to any and all development that risks making traffic worse. Especially development that tempts passer through vehicles to stop.
Think of local residents first, especially our safety! And why not?
By TheTurtle (143), Southampton on Nov 23, 16 9:21 AM
Turtle, the developers can build 3 restaurants on that property. Joes Crab Shack, anyone? That will take business from Main Street. Our current grocery store is dismal at best. With Bishops Pond, The Feilds and whatever the hell the condos are called across from the Blue Collar, this is a logical spot for a grocery. Have you tried parking at Stop n Shop in July? The traffic will decrease on 39 because so many of us shop in BH or HB. As for cars passing by that will stop, aren't they already adding ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 23, 16 9:49 AM
To claim that the people of Hampton Bays, Southampton, & Bridgehampton are lacking options when it comes to grocery stores is madness. There are soooooo many grocery stores
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Nov 23, 16 10:17 AM
2 members liked this comment
Hmmmmmm. Southampton has choices...
Stop N Shop.

Am I missing anything? Please don't insult me with City-rella, or Schmidts. These are gourmet food stores, not grocery stores.

When I was a little boy, we had choices in SH Village. Bohacks, Gristededes, A&P, Herbert's Market... we now have ONE GROCERY, but TWO LARGE "PHARMACIES". And, yet, we're building houses like crazy. And high end condos. Two large parcels of land have been subdivided, one less than a mile from this ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 23, 16 12:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, those were some of the stores from years back. There were usually 2 supermarkets at a time, never 3 except when Gristede's--which failed-- came in, along with Herbert's which I think was only open in summer, and McLaren's. What was consistent in all of those decades was that all of them were in the village business district.
Bridgehampton only had Bohack's on their Main Street back then. And probably nothing between the time Bohack's went out and King Kullen came in.
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Nov 23, 16 9:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
Loses its charm? Left a long time ago. There's 2 large pharmacies in the middle of the village. There's a Starbucks and a Pottery Barn. All competing with local business.

Gristedes was open for 20+ years. Bohacks was where the IGA was, where CVS is now. A&P was, originally, where Citarella is now. Then Mr. Ingolia built the new A&P, amid screams of "ruining our village."

All of these stores were open together for a very long time. Until Rite Aid and CVS came in.

By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 24, 16 12:03 PM
And 90% of the people buying those homes don't live here full time, and most likely never will.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Nov 25, 16 4:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
Gotta love the big full page ad this week in the Press. First section positioning, paid for by the Southampton Association (that's the SAME group in bed with the Press on it's misguided legal adventure with the school district). Lots of words in it, not one single truthful fact about the shopping center. Another scare poster along the lines of similar scare posters the Association published (also first section) to help scuttle the Southampton/Tuckahoe school merger, another screed that came loaded ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 23, 16 2:12 PM
The nonsense, I dare say, is in your post. The ad was placed by three groups--The Group for the East End, Peconic Baykeeper, The Southampton Association plus concerned citizens of the Town, Village, and Tuckahoe. It correctly cites all the valid reasons this proposal should be denied.
Tell the Town Board to add your name to those opposing the unwanted development at: jschneiderman@southamptontown.ny.gov
Tell the Village Trustees you support their opposition by emailing: mayorsoffice@southamptonvillage.org
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Nov 23, 16 9:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well, I guess we know now that you were part of the group behind the BS ad. Let's see.... the ultra-conservative Southampton Association, village protection arm which has made a mockery of facts on a number of recent issues (not sure what community they think they serve), Bob DeLuca who is anti-development, all the time, anywhere anyplace, the Peconic Baykeeper....say what?!....what does the Peconic estuary have anything to do with this?

Yes, the ad was, as Simon Cowell would say, "Utter ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 24, 16 8:37 AM
Wrong, Self-Interested Breath.
An ill-advised and unnecessary scheme to enrich a few that would make an already horrible situation worse is "community improvement"? I would say you have no concern whatever for said community or the benefit of the many. Among the things I am thankful for today is that those favoring what would create a many-level nightmare are in the minority.
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Nov 24, 16 9:13 AM
Happy Thanksgiving to you. I have much concern for this community, and am aware it needs to evolve in order to continue to serve the many but for the few. On this issue, then, let the detractors give thanks to all who work and live out here, but who should also face the changes wrought by the building boom over the past 30 years. Time to catch up with some much-needed infrastructure and allow families to operate better out here without the slog to Stop & Shop in the village alone.
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 24, 16 11:06 AM
Don't let the fact that the developer and their hired supporters are only a very small minority. They spread around quite a large amount of money.

And, most developers think that "we little people" will lose interest in the fight and they'll eventually get what they want.

Now is the time to redouble your efforts and ask ALL of your friends to join in.
By sag2harbor (117), sag harbor on Nov 25, 16 8:51 AM
Why is it that only supporters are "hired" and opponents are pure and chaste? You are dead wrong on your numbers, there are many, many more supporters in the community that want this new grocery shopping. To this day, the opponents cry and scream and portend doom, in the face of all the professional studies and recommendations of experts and planners, and the high turnout of supporters at every public hearing on this. You know it is something we've needed for many years, but you seem to want to ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 25, 16 9:58 AM
There can be hundreds of professional studies and recommendations of experts and planners, but it will still be difficult to get public support for this if so many people in the community just feel it's unnecessary.

The point is - many of us don't agree with your (and others') assessment that this "problem" is so big. We think it's your side that's crying and screaming and portending doom. We're happy to go to Hampton Bays, Bridgehampton, or elsewhere for major grocery shopping and use ...more
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Nov 25, 16 11:42 AM
Hmmm, struck a nerve it seems Florio. There's no "problem" in need of a suburban style "solution". Pack your carpet bag and slither back to whatever rock your masters found you under.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 25, 16 4:17 PM
You've hit no nerve. Your constant us vs them attitude is what is mind-blowing. Look at your last post above. Instead of working with any detail to back your position, you, like others above and below, feel the compunction only to criticize the commenters, which is s very weak way to address the topic and which only plays to the angry little base that lives in your bubble. Unfortunately for you, the community is diversifying around you, with or without my comments here.
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 26, 16 9:57 AM
It seems the three main arguments people have against this development are:

(1) It'll make traffic much worse in an area that already has a traffic and safety problem. This, by far, seems to be the most widely cited problem.
(2) It'll turn us into UTI - a bunch of shopping centers with no green space left, which will reduce the charm that makes this area what we love.
(3) It's unnecessary development (i.e., there is no problem) because there are plenty of grocery stores within a ...more
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Nov 26, 16 10:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
Ok, I'll try:

1. The conjecture that it will make traffic worse is not demonstrated in any of the traffic studies, including the consultants the developer contracted with, or the independent consultants that the town contracted with. They had slightly different outcomes in their respective initial reports, but they got together and synthesized them, and end result: the traffic will be significantly lessened by the new center according to those studies. The new traffic at the exact spot ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 27, 16 10:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
Rickenbacker - thanks for the well thought out and logical response. I can much more clearly understand where you're coming from now...
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Nov 28, 16 8:48 AM
Every time you use the term "out here" you show that you are a UTI native , comfortable with suburban sprawl! This oversized, terribly sited project is not necessary . The plan to use Magee Street as a major point of entrance and egress is farcical , that intersection is already over loaded and the necessary re timing of the light will back up traffic . The Board should just kill this scam and be done with it
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 24, 16 11:53 AM
Bigfresh has it right. BTW, Mr. Fresh and I don't often agree, so that in itself has to mean something. This dog has been trotted out several times already, and it won't hunt. Give it up, guys.

As usual, Rickenbacker is working this like a man with a bundle, or at least a paycheck, riding on it. Six long posts in this thread so far. I've probably done that before myself, but I'm a little crazy sometimes, I admit it. What's your excuse, Rickenbacker?
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Nov 25, 16 11:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
I guess I'm crazy like you in that regard. But I have no stake in this project whatsoever, which I have stated several times on this subject. I do find it compelling, however, to correct the insanity of some of the comments here, posted by individuals who think throwing fiction and hyperbole are good debate points. They are not. Trying to constantly shame commenters is a futile exercise as well. Full page ads in the newspaper with the same false or misleading contentions designed to play on people's ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Nov 26, 16 10:21 AM
If there is something you want, which is quite clear; then you do have a "stake" in this. It is quite apparent you stand to gain in some manner by this project being approved and completed. Materially, if not financially.

George Carlin you ain't. To say you don't have a stake in the outcome is just pure bull****.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 26, 16 10:25 AM
I'm honestly open to hearing arguments in support of this project. I just haven't been convinced so far.
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Nov 26, 16 10:34 AM
Your endorsement of Mr. Fresh is subject to scrutiny, Mr. Bridge. I can honestly say I've never agreed with you on anything. And especially not this.

I love the traffic argument. But the best is "Stop UTI Sprawl". The change of Zone is for a grocery store. The developers can put in anything that falls under "Highway Business". Joes Crabshack. TGI Fridays. Outback Steakhouse. All of these can be built with little or no issues. They would be destroying our local restaurants (Not that we ...more
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 28, 16 4:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
We definitely don't need a Joes Crabshack, TGI Fridays, or Outback Steakhouse. If, for some reason, you want to go to any of those... that's what Riverhead is for!
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Nov 29, 16 7:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Think about it . . . those who favor the Tuckahoe Shopping center evidently feel that their need for convenience warrants the risk of grave inconvenience for the rest of us. Phooey to you, solve your own problem without forcing the rest of us to sit in traffic.

If there is indeed a public heath problem (pending mass starvation), government has not looked for alternate solutions like fostering the expansion of local markets or encouraging expanded food delivery service. How pathetic and ...more
By TheTurtle (143), Southampton on Nov 25, 16 5:19 PM
5 members liked this comment
Seems like it's down to you and your team's inconvenience vs. Rickenbacker and his team's inconvenience. Depending on whose inconvenience is deemed to be more inconvenient, someone is going home happy.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Nov 28, 16 5:26 PM
An amplification of my thoughts. Officials are lazy, if more food shopping alternatives are indeed critical, how come 5 or 10 alternatives are not in the discussions?
Is it conceivable that no off highway solutions are possible?
Ba humbug, big money appears to have sucked the oxygen out of the discussions.
I'm stuck in traffic and can't breath.
Demand that officials explore ALL alternatives to Tuckahoe center!
By TheTurtle (143), Southampton on Dec 2, 16 11:17 PM