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Feb 8, 2017 10:02 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Rally Held By Supporters Of Tuckahoe Center On Monday; Supervisor Skeptical Of Who Turned Out

Residents gathered outside of Southampton Town Hall on Monday to show support of Tuckahoe Center, a proposed project that includes a supermarket. JEN NEWMAN
Feb 8, 2017 10:02 AM

Supporters of a proposed shopping center on County Road 39 in Tuckahoe rallied outside of Southampton Town Hall on Monday—although Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman had some questions about the nature of the protest.

Mr. Schneiderman went out to the crowd of 85 people at the Monday afternoon rally to discuss the project. He said when he spoke with attendees, most of whom wore green shirts with the words “Yes, Tuckahoe Center” written on them, he was surprised to find that most had some direct connection to the project.

The supervisor said he went up to one large group holding signs, who had been identified by Kelly Pike, the sister-in-law of one of the developers, as the kinds of working class people who could use the shopping center. One man held a sign that said “Jay knows the truth. End public manipulation.” When the supervisor asked him about the sign, the man did not respond—he did not speak English. Most, he said, did not live in Tuckahoe.

“It was bizarre,” the supervisor said. “They kind of challenged me to come down and see the supporters. It was kind of strange that there were a number of people there who didn’t live in the area, who likely would use the supermarket, and a number of them were not English-speaking.”

The proposal by a group of developers, including Lance Nill, Lyle Pike and Robert Morrow, seeks to alter the zoning on three adjoining properties, totaling 7.26 acres, along the southeastern side of County Road 39 and Magee Street in Tuckahoe. The zone change, from highway business to shopping center business, is required for the proposed construction of a 38,000-square-foot supermarket and an additional 14,500 square feet of commercial space in three additional buildings on the property.

Town Board members are expected to make a decision on the proposal this month, though all five, including the supervisor, have said they do not believe the idea has the support of the majority.

Mr. Nill was at Monday’s protest. “I went up to Lance and asked him, ‘How many of these people work for you, Lance?’” the supervisor said. “I still don’t really know the answer to that question.”

However, Shinnecock Hills resident Robert Florio, who maintains that he is not financially connected to the project, said he attended the rally to support the project, which he said is needed. He argued that in the 1980s Southampton Village had four major grocery stores and now has one. “The whole point of this is that the future of the Town of Southampton needs to evolve and grow,” he said.

Jennica Velasquez, a Center Moriches resident and the sister-in-law of Mr. Nill, attended the protest and said she supported the project because of the number of economically disadvantaged students in the Tuckahoe School District. According to state data on the school, 56 percent of students, around 176, are eligible for free lunches.

“It’s just mind-blowing to me, because he really just want to help these families,” she said of her brother-in-law.

According to Mr. Nill, the majority of letters sent to the Town Board that were against the project came after Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, sent out an “alert” to the group with describing the center as a 320,000-square-foot commercial development—which is the total area of the property itself, not the development. Mr. Nill also argued that hundreds of letters in support of the project did not reach the board before the public hearing.

“The public does not deserve to be manipulated,” Mr. Nill said on Monday. “Half of the letters came in one day from Mr. DeLuca’s people. I can’t take it anymore, I’ve been beat up for no reason. Every single expert agrees with us. It’s crazy.”

The supervisor said the board has since received the letters but will be making their own judgment on the project. “There’s no foul play—nobody’s hiding any letters,” the supervisor said. “Before we make a decision on it, we will have a full record of the letters and emails for and against. My opinion has not changed.”

He said he came into last month’s public hearing open-minded, and was actually leaning more toward approval, but has since changed his mind due mainly to concerns from the public over the traffic patterns the center would create, and a lack of mitigation of those issues. “I’ve been literally asking everyone I know,” he said. “My kids go to local schools—I ask the parents. I’m seeing very little support. The opposition is overwhelming.”

The supervisor said the rally has not swayed his opinion on the application. As an alternative, he said he would be willing to work with the developers to create an assisted living complex at the site, as the South Fork does not have one. He said that idea, or something similar, could yield higher-paying jobs and generate almost no traffic.

“I’m certainly willing to work with the developer and community in coming up with a strong economic plan that would not have all the adverse impacts,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

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Bring in a real Urban Planner and come up with a Town Development plan that will be followed! Development is inevitable. Embrace it with a smart plan.
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Feb 8, 17 12:06 PM
Funny Jay doesn't question when up island environmentalists come in from out of the area to fight the Hills.
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Feb 8, 17 12:19 PM
It seems to me that a better way to have real count of who supports or rejects the project is to hold a referendum on the project in the upcoming election in November. In this manner the voters in the most affected areas of the Town (SHV, Shinnecock, Tuckahoe, and North Sea) will have the deciding vote on the desire for the market and not people who live away from the area or work for the developer or are beholden to other interests.

Still at the end of the day, the issue here is a failure ...more
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Feb 8, 17 12:41 PM
Morrow hired a bunch of guys from the local 7-11 and tried to play them off as grass root supporters! Hilarious!
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Feb 8, 17 4:47 PM

Estimado Sr. Morrow, estoy disponible el próximo jueves durante 5 horas. ¿La tarifa de pago para celebrar el signo será la misma que la última vez?
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Feb 8, 17 4:57 PM
Supervisor Sneiderman has a good idea about building a structure that would not have such a strong influence on Route 39 traffic. An assisted living facility is a fine idea.. In the village, traffic is slower, and you do not have people speeding near an elementary school while you go to the market. This is not about traffic on Route 39, in a vacuum. The influence of safety for the community in the area of the proposed market is a huge factor, especially with an elementary school which uses that ...more
By QuietLife (61), Southampton on Feb 8, 17 5:08 PM
So that's why Mr Neil was at The Public House Friday night, handing out those shirts and buying people drinks.
By JM11968 (71), southampton on Feb 8, 17 5:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
Jay Schneiderman deserves credit for coming up with what seems like a very useful alternative, at least on first glance. An assisted living complex, will, as he says, fill a need, generate little traffic and provide significant employment.

What a good elected official does is look carefully at all the input and make a decision. A very good elected official goes beyond that, if possible, and comes up with a new idea if the first idea doesn't work. The Tuckahoe Center proposal doesn't ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 9, 17 10:24 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By kuali (32), southampton on Feb 9, 17 11:31 AM
N O to the ill-proposed tuckahoe center !
By kuali (32), southampton on Feb 9, 17 11:31 AM
Haha! "Tukahoe!"
By Corjentra (1), Remsenburg on Feb 9, 17 12:31 PM
Did I just jump out of an Easter Egg? Of course the developer hired these supporters! Replete with Custom T-Shirts and Printed Signs. Did anyone actually fall for this? Seriously!
By elliot (254), sag harbor on Feb 9, 17 2:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
We need a new grocery store . We dont need a shopping center. All I want is to be able to make one trip to the store for all my basics. I guess thats too much to ask for. Off to Bridgehampton KK to buy groceries.....
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Feb 10, 17 7:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
Don't you think anything in this spot will generate traffic? I can't believe that an assisted living facility would be better. What the town needs to do is SLOW DOWN the traffic on 39 It's like the Daytona racetrack and I never see cops trying to slow it down. I might as well move. I've lived on tuckahoe lane for 30 years and that road has always been bad with no one doing anything to fix it. Just slow down and put in a series of lights Please slow down
By MichaelParaskevas (3), Roselle Park, New Jersey on Feb 10, 17 8:53 AM
Just want to help poor kids in Tackahoe school? Priceless!!
She left that part out of the phony letter she sent around Christmas
By smacw (240), New York on Feb 21, 17 11:16 PM
You colloquial hicks think that people don't count if they are not from 11968? What about those people being the type of blue collar worker that would benefit is inaccurate?
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Feb 22, 17 4:33 AM