clubhouse, east hampton, indoor, tennis, cornhole, bar, happy hour, bowling, mini golf

Story - News

Mar 21, 2014 12:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Bridgehampton CAC To Hire Attorney To Fight CVS Pharmacy Plan

Mar 25, 2014 1:38 PM

UPDATE: Tuesday, 10 a.m.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera said Monday night at the regularly scheduled Bridgehampton CAC meeting that she anticipates CVS will have to bring their build-out application before the Planning Board for a public hearing. But, she said, the decision of whether or not CVS can split up into separate corporations to occupy the whole building, circumventing the hearing, is under the sole purview of Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa.

At the same meeting, a riled-up crowd expressed their opposition to the project and CAC co-chair Nancy Walter-Yvertes vowed to hire an attorney to "do something artful and slow down the process."

"They are very excited and very pleased to be at that spot," Ms. Walter-Yvertes said, referencing CVS' recent unsuccessful push to gain a foothold in the area. "It is outrageous. Why should we welcome them with open arms. They want to sell trash, beach balls and lawn chairs, not treat people."

Ms. Scalera was firm that there has been nothing official filed with the town yet, and no one at the town level beyond Mr. Benincasa knew about the project before the CAC raised issues.

When Ms. Scalera was later questioned about Mr. Benincasa's comments that seperate corporation names would technically satisfy the law, Ms. Scalera said she wouldn't rule out the unforseen, but said she thought "common sense would prevail."

"If you are violating the spirit and intent of the law, I think the building inspector would see through that," she said. "Logically, I don't think that'd fly, but it is in his purview. He might seek counsel, he might not."

Someone in the crowd interrupted her, asking, "Does Benincasa know our concerns?" Ms. Scalera nodded in response.

She refused to take a side on whether or not a CVS would fit there, but said that the idea of this setting a precedent is a "legitimate question. This happening is just a good lesson that this can happen on anyone's Main Street."

Regardless, Ms. Scalera noted that Mr. Benincasa's determination on the matter is appealable to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Joining Ms. Scalera from the town was Janice Scherer, the principal planner for the town's Long Range Planning Division. Ms. Scherer told the crowd, which was in favor of simply passing a town law to outlaw chain stores, that "the limit of 5,000 square feet [per tenant] in a village-business zoned area is the town's way of limiting chain stores."

"I can assure you that no one has known about CVS all this time," Ms. Scherer added. "These companies are very quiet about things. Maybe someone, somewhere knew, but certainly not in the planning division."


The CVS pharmacy chain may be close to signing a lease agreement to occupy both floors of a soon-to-be-constructed building in Bridgehampton, according to members of a local citizens group that has spoken with company representatives.

The pharmacy has reached out to the town building inspector in recent months to discuss details of an expected building permit application for the interior of the building on the corner of Montauk Highways and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.

Southampton Town’s Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa confirmed on Friday that representatives from CVS have come to him to discuss logistics of the use of both floors of the approximately 9,000-square-foot building as a combination pharmacy and convenience store.

Town zoning restricts any single retail business to 5,000 square feet of the commercial building to be constructed at the site, but Mr. Benincasa said the company could apply for a special exception use permit from the Planning Board, which would permit a business the size of CVS. Another option: CVS could divide the business into two separate corporate entities, each occupying one 4,500-square-foot floor of the building, with the store on one level and the pharmacy on another.

The storefront size limits, which are in the Town Code and apply to all commercial buildings, had been pointed to by town officials as a likely obstacle to CVS occupying the building, which members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee began hearing rumors about back in January. But members say they were told that the drug-store chain actually has been in talks with the owners of the building for some two years.

The committee will hold its monthly meeting this Monday, March 24, at 7 p.m. in community room of the Bridgehampton National Bank headquarters on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.

On February 7, the town’s Building Department approved three-year-old plans for the construction of a building, designed for three separate uses, on the commercially zoned property at 2510 Montauk Highway. The building is owned by BNB Ventures IV LLC. The permits issued were only for the construction of the exterior shell of the building. Future tenants would have to apply for a new round of building permits for the use of the interior store spaces.

Southampton Town zoning codes do allow for retail stores to occupy between 5,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet if a special exception permit is issued by the Town Planning Board. Applying for such a permit would require that a public hearing be held.

Over the last month, members of the CAC have met with Southampton Town Planning and Development Administrator Kyle Collins, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Christine Scalera to discuss the CVS rumors. All told the CAC that they had no knowledge of the plans.

Then, on March 8, after calling a listed number for BNB Ventures IV, a number for real estate developer Paul Kanavos, the CAC was contacted by the regional director of real estate for CVS, Dave Berman, offering to meet and discuss their plans.

“Why did it take six weeks to get a confirmation that CVS was a proposed tenant?” asked Nancy Walter-Yvertes, chair of the Bridgehampton CAC. “And why did it come from them and not Town Hall? The town is either stonewalling us, or CVS is working on its own in a vacuum.”

According to Ms. Walter-Yvertes and other CAC members in attendance at the meeting with Mr. Berman, he confirmed the years-long development of plans for a 8,330-square-foot building, with more than 4,000 square feet of finished basement, all to accommodate CVS at the site. Mr. Berman presented two mock-ups, complete with drawn-in shutter designs and the specific signage that will be placed in front of the store.

According to the design copies, a “non-prototypical CVS layout” is planned, with rear and front entrances, two floors and a 26-square-foot stand-alone CVS sign outside.

The plans indicate the project is “self-developed,” or otherwise coming from the CVS corporation itself, not someone trying to open a franchise. Several years ago, CVS attempted and failed to branch out in neighboring Sag Harbor, an effort that spurred a broad re-writing of the village’s zoning and building codes.

The conceptual plans for the Bridgehampton building were designed by Hauppauge-based engineering, surveying and landscape architecture firm VHB. The mock-ups, which were simply amendments to previous plans, were made in 2012.

Mr. Berman added, according to CAC members, that the lease between BNB Ventures IV, and CVS, which they believe to be already signed, is a standard commercial lease for 25 years.

On Tuesday, Ms. Walter-Yvertes took her findings back to the town supervisor. “Anna was speechless—floored, in my opinion,” she said. “She left the room and had to pull Kyle Collins out of a meeting for a few minutes to ask about it. She came back and said they haven’t applied for any exceptions or building permits yet.”

Calls Friday morning to Mr. Berman were not immediately returned.

On Thursday, Mr. Collins said he has still heard or seen nothing official about specific plans for the property but noted that after being told of the rumors about CVS’s involvement he had “flagged” the property in the town’s Building Department computers to ensure that inspectors were reminded about the size limit. “Just to make sure it didn’t slip through some crack in the system,” he said.

But Mr. Benincasa said on Friday morning that a company like CVS could theoretically get around the size limit by breaking the business into two officially separate corporate owners with distinctly different stores. He said he suspected that a company like CVS probably has its pharmacy and convenience stores in separate corporate ownerships as it is, for insurance and legal reasons.

“It has to be two clearly separate entities,” Mr. Benincasa said. “Two separate entrances, two different tenant spaces, fire separations, that sort of thing.”

He added that the company’s representatives have not asked him anything about the division of the store spaces. “They know the code,” he said.

The building inspector said that his conversations with the company have primarily focused on interior designs of the building, specifically the treatment of the windows. He said the company’s representatives had asked if they could simply “black out” the windows so that interior wall-rack space would not be lost. The building inspector said that, legally, they can do that, but that he had advised them to take a more aesthetically gentle approach to alterations of the buildings, which was designed to blend with the architecture of two historic buildings on opposite corners of Bridgehampton’s main interseciton. Mr. Benincasa said he recommended that the company shutter the windows and back-light them so that they keep more of the look of a residential building, both during the day and at night.

“I think it would look kind of cool,” Mr. Benincasa said. “They could just black them out but they said they were amenable to doing this instead.”

Staff writer Michael Wright contributed to this story.

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Does it seem shocking that the SH Town Chief Building Inspector is actually suggesting to CVS how it can "get around the code" by having two separate subsidiary companies create the legal fiction that all of a sudden one intended use can become two?

I thought this was the role of the applicant's attorney, and that the building inspector was supposed to be on the side of compliance with the law?

What do his superiors say about his role in this "end run" around the code?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 21, 14 12:50 PM
3 members liked this comment
Just what we need. Why not throw a couple more real estate stores in there while you're at it.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Mar 21, 14 1:09 PM
John J. It is not up to you or the CAC to determine "what we need". A Company such as CVS (or any other) would not invest in an area without performing a feasibility study. Unfortunately, the costs associated with going through the Town's planning process prohibit local establishments from expansion or moving. I think it is funny how the same people that oppose a Panera or Subway I see eating there after its built. Let the market dictate what a community needs.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Mar 21, 14 2:50 PM
And the laws on the books . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 21, 14 3:28 PM
No one opposes Panera or Subway, it is the location and the impact of lifestyle that is concerned. There are commercial buildings from Southampton to East Hampton that are built and ready to accommodate a franchise and they stand empty. Look at Watermill. I can't count the number of vacant building that are owned by Kimco. Bridgehampton Commons has a few open spots as well. Why drop a CVS on a intersection like that in Bridgehampton when there are commercial locations a mile away that are empty.
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Mar 22, 14 10:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
There goes the kitchiness of BH, MCDonalds drive through should be next. BH is becoming Suburbia. While I like CVS it belongs over by Kimco and not on Main Street. Main St charm is the boutigue stores. It all started to go down hill with the Starbucks franchise.....
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Mar 22, 14 6:49 AM
2 members liked this comment
I agree with North Sea. I would hope the CAC would see the harm in a store like CVS being dropped in the middle of Bridghampton. It just does not fit. I'm not even sure there is enough need for another drug store in Bridgehampton. People can drive to East Hampton or Southampton for that. Those villages have the space and need Bridgehampton does not. There are vacant store fronts at Bridgehampton Commons, CVS should be there where is belongs.
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Mar 22, 14 10:09 AM
Why drive to Southampton or East Hampton for a CVS, just go to Rite Aid in BH Commons...
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Mar 22, 14 3:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
My point was that we have a rite aid in BH and if you wanted another choice of store you candy drive to EH or SH where there pharmacies other than rite aid. Rite aid is not the greatest, but sometimes I will stop at a different chain in another town.
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Mar 25, 14 10:51 PM
This is a horrible place for another of the sheeples magic pill pusher.s If we as a country weren't so hooked on a pill for every problem the proliferation of pharmacies wouldn't be as out of control as it is. It doesn't belong there as said previously, it will destroy the character of the Main Street portion of BH. Starbucks is very unobtrusive aesthetically. Traffic due to Starbucks is another issue. Why does CVS need two floors? As for CBI Benincasa suggesting how a huge corporation can circumvent ...more
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Mar 22, 14 3:02 PM
2 members liked this comment
Bastard suburbia, and the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th boroughs...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 22, 14 11:33 PM
Now where will Walgreens locate?
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Mar 23, 14 4:42 PM
seems not a lot of parking will be on site. a lot of Topping Rose help parks in the lot north of the site. since there is no parking available most times from May thru Sept perhaps the town should be looking at ways to cut the traffic in the main street area. the cvs belongs somewhere but not in the village.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Mar 23, 14 7:26 PM
To all that oppose this. Show up to the public hearing. The CAC is NOT a elected agency and should not be relied upon to make decisions. It has a purpose, but to be involved in planning is not one of them. We have elected officials for that. Again, no one other than big box stores can afford the process. Get used to it.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Mar 24, 14 9:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
The quote about fenestration at the end of the article makes one wonder about impartiality here:

“I think it would look kind of cool,” Mr. Benincasa said. “They could just black them out but they said they were amenable to doing this instead.”

Is this really an accurate quote from "Southampton Town’s Chief Building Inspector Michael Benincasa?"
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 24, 14 9:57 AM
Dear Real World,

You are correct the CAC is not a publicly elected body with decision making ability. Rather, the CAC has an advisory role. In a Township as large as Southampton I would think that the Town fathers would appreciate our fact finding mission.

I would add that I am certain it is not the Chief Building Inspector's role to suggest to how to flout the intentions of the our zoning code. In fact he/she should be encouraging responsible, sustainable development in our Town.
By alejandro (1), Southampton on Mar 24, 14 3:56 PM
... the Town Board has lost sight of maintaining the rural seaside character of the East End. They do not have the ability to deal with these developers whose proposals mark the beginning of the end of that which we have. Large commercial developments i.e. a proposed technology park at an airport which is now devolved to an industrial park, the privatization and subsequent pollution of Shinnecock Canal, a golf course which was proposed with 82 homes is actually now slated for 115 after the PDD ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 25, 14 11:18 AM
It is amazing we have cars on the east end. There was probably a CAC that wanted the "rural seaside" character with just horse and buggies. A CAC lawyering up shows how crazy the process is. Don't complain when prices go up, and your grand kids cannot afford or find a home. The same people who say we don't want another Riverhead are the same ones that shop there. Hypocrites.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Mar 25, 14 12:06 PM
Seems pretty clear that nobody wants this but you tRW. I wonder why that is?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Mar 25, 14 12:47 PM
Who is nobody? I see, lets have a town wide vote on every project. All I am saying is that the process prohibits local entrepreneurs from going into business. And a 40 or 50 or even a 500 member CAC is carrying too much weight in town hall without being elected. Why even bother with a Town Planner or boards. CVS wouldn't dip its hat in the arena unless there is a need: a need that many would probably like to fill but they don't have deep enough pockets to do so before they go into business. BTW ...more
By The Real World (368), southampton on Mar 25, 14 1:00 PM
There are places in this country where towns do make their decisions based on referendums. If we've learned anything by now, it's that you can't trust politicians to do what they say. Town wide votes would take the power from special interests and likely reduces the God complex found in too many political hacks.
Hampton, NH is one area that uses the model.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Mar 25, 14 6:18 PM
That would be a process called "direct democracy".
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 26, 14 9:35 AM
... local entrepeneurs?
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Mar 25, 14 1:34 PM
I bet the old beverage store is looking pretty good right now...
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 25, 14 2:12 PM
3 members liked this comment
Its only an issue because CVS wants more than 5,000 sq. feet. Anybody else can come along, including 7-eleven and/or Duncan Donuts, and go straight in as-of-right. The problem is the same as EH - the laws are on the books and then when something starts going in/up that people don't like, then they want to change it (ala 7-11 in MTK, and soon-to-be in Amagansett). They should designate Main St a historic district - certainly that intersection - before something much worse than CVS moves in.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Mar 25, 14 2:12 PM
2 members liked this comment
In the update to the article, Ms. Scalera was diplomatically kind to Mr. Benincasa IMO. Hopefully each and every member of the Town Board has expressed harsher words to the CBI in private.

Not to mention the Town Attorney.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 25, 14 3:22 PM
So what's wrong with beach balls & beach chairs? Plenty of merchants already sell them. Will they be harassed by the CAC too? Lots of us like sitting on beach chairs at the beach while our kids play, sometimes with beach balls. Will they be banned by the CAC on Bridgehampton beaches too?
By G (342), Southampton on Mar 25, 14 3:23 PM
The building inspector to determine whether or not CVS can split into 3 different corporations in order to occupy a building ? This is not only unheard of but should pave the way for CVS. To the CAC: save your money on a lawyer and take care of the trees.
By wmdwjr (76), east hampton on Mar 25, 14 4:37 PM
The CBI does not have the authority to bypass the Code with this blatant sleight of hand, as Ms. Scalera seemed to hint.

If he does not come to his senses, the Town Board should consider disciplinary action, including termination, in my personal opinion.

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 25, 14 4:44 PM
Why, then, is Ms. Scalera indirectly quoted in the article as saying it is under Mr. Benincasa's purview. Who needs the discipline here- the Board or the CBI ?
CVS must be having a good laugh right now.
By wmdwjr (76), east hampton on Mar 25, 14 5:10 PM
She was being diplomatic IMO, giving the CBI room to get out of the SNAFU he has created.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 25, 14 6:29 PM
Ms. Walter-Yvertes is quite the elitist. In case you haven't noticed we're thick with the service providers that the wealthy require. The Hamptons are just a marketing exercise now... Pilates anyone?
By Split Rock (68), North Haven on Mar 25, 14 7:03 PM
Im not sure that the CAC can hire an attorney being appointed by the town as an advisory committee, can only make the publics thoughts known about an issue to the full Town Board. So the CAC is involved in the planning process by developers et al seeking the publics temperature about a project. Sometimes they find out first hand sometimes as an after thought. CAC memebers are always on the look out in their hamlets. Commercilization of our rural east end is a big part of the issues across town that ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Mar 26, 14 6:43 AM
if the town is smart it will purchase the property and preserve it as an entity of Bridgehampton's ongoing way of NOT falling thru the cracks of big business. I recently donated photos of the dedication of the monument with horse and buggy and also around the flagpole dancing the mapole fromt the early 1900's to the BH historical Soc. We need to protect these old and important moments in our little village's history. Perhaps it is time for us BH oldies as well as the "new" oldies to fight back ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Mar 26, 14 8:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
Why don't one of you big mouths buy the subject parcel?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 26, 14 11:53 PM
Why has nobody pointed out that there is a Rite-Aid less than a mile down the road?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Mar 27, 14 4:41 PM
ICE and deelove mentioned this above, however if one's insurance and prescription plans are already in the CVS computer, Rite-Aid is not a realistic alternative IMO in today's world.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 27, 14 8:52 PM
This place is DONE…face it! The BOOM that we claim to have been living through has been happening for the past 30 years. What we have experienced was something merely in its infancy. A new, stronger, uglier, bigger, heartless boom is coming on strong like a rambunctious toddler. You thought the end was near…it has just begun. Isn't that right Mr. Farrell ?!?
By saggguy (20), SAGAPONACK on Mar 27, 14 9:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well said -- "like a rambunctious toddler" !

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 28, 14 6:34 AM
The print version of this story [blue link at top] indicates that the lease has been signed, and that this is now in the hands of Mr. Benincasa.

Ah, good to have the fox guarding the hen house!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 28, 14 2:08 PM
Under Mr. Benincasa's reasoning quoted below, if CVS split the operation into 4 uses, would they be entitled to 20,000 square feet?

This would completely eviscerate the intent of the code.

For whom is he working?


" “It has to be two clearly separate entities,” Mr. Benincasa said, noting that he was under the impression that CVS already separates its pharmacy and retail operations for legal and insurance reasons. “Two ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 28, 14 4:11 PM
Rape the world for all it's worth, every inch of planet Earth.

Like we have another planet to got to...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 1, 14 11:03 PM
William Rodney and sagguy have it right, the place is going to pot, and local government is to blame. Mr. Rodney's criticism of key town officials, elected and appointed, is especially apt.

Some say follow the money, referring to contributions by development interests to certain officials' election campaigns. Others say that the amounts donated aren't enough to corrupt anyone, much less a savvy politician with an eye to the future, and that's persuasive.

On the other hand, ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 29, 14 11:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
The traffic on Lumber Lane is horrendous during the summer. I have counted 60 vehicles every 5 minutes between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm in the summer. Crossing Montauk Hiway at the Lumber Lane stop light is like playing bumper cars with traffic lined up halfway to Maple Lane. A CVS store would certainly place a blemish on our quaint village.
By patricia Brennan (8), San Jose on Mar 30, 14 12:06 AM
BH should have incorporated years ago to rid our selves of the money making "board" members who carry out the "will" of the township. we need to divest BH from the town much as Sagaponack has done and protect our little village from the onslaught of the town and it's low mentality and developer's dreams. Let's act NOW!!!
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Apr 1, 14 5:24 PM
New article out.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 1, 14 6:38 PM
I wonder why sagguy even came out of his house, much less left his hedged & gated property in gazillionaire sagaponack? Maybe he didn't as he has no clue who is actually building in sagaponack? If you don't like companies doing their job and the following the allowed building code, move back to New Jersey where you originally came from. Ok? I hear the shore there is nice..........
Love the thousands of no parking signs in sagaponack placed every 20 feet along every road and field - that's nice ...more
By G (342), Southampton on Apr 2, 14 11:09 AM
If there are provisions in the building code to do this, why aim the gun at the CBI? Does anyone think that the CVS people DIDNT know about that when they bought the property?
These companies don't hire their cousin Vinny as attorneys. There are hoards of them just looking for loopholes in town codes. And they do a good job of it.
I don't like the idea of a CVS either, but in reality, how can you keep CVS from doing it, but we would be happy to have a local pharmacy expand and do the same? ...more
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Apr 2, 14 11:39 AM
See the new article -- they are applying for a special exception to permit more than 5,000 s. f., which is how it should have been done in the beginning (without the CBI being creative to get around the intent of the code's square footage limition IMO).
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 2, 14 12:02 PM
blank!, you might want to check the editorial in this week's Press [and see comments in the other article].
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 4, 14 5:59 AM
intersting stuff. speaking of vacant buildings, whats up with that candy store in water mill with the 2 apartments that has had a big "for sale" sign up for like 10 years now? and that building on the highway in southampton that has those big round windows? and that other place near carvel that used to be a diner? But mostly i want to know about that candy store.
By milkdilk (49), Southampton on Apr 2, 14 4:45 PM