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Dec 8, 2010 1:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Unveils Long Anticipated Study For Hampton Bays

Dec 8, 2010 1:36 PM

Years of meetings between Hampton Bays residents and Southampton Town planning officials culminated with the release of a document that many community members hope will provide a detailed vision that will guide future development in their hamlet.

The Hampton Bays Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement, or DGEIS, was presented to the Southampton Town Board at its work session last Thursday, December 2, by Jefferson Murphree and Freda Eisenberg of the town’s Land Management Department. The hefty document outlines a set of specific observations and recommendations designed to shape future development of the most populated hamlet in the town.

As of June, the town had spent $235,422 on consultants and staffers to craft the study. That figure has since grown, Ms. Eisenberg said, although she did not immediately know by how much. She stressed that the total cost of the study includes time spent by planning staff responding to concerns raised by community members.

The community and the town first came together in 2006 to address what some Hampton Bays residents viewed as some of the most pressing issues in the hamlet—namely, growing traffic and density concerns, coupled with dwindling open space.

The study, which must still be adopted by the Town Board before it becomes official, was born out of the State Environmental Quality Review Act. It was initially created to assess the impacts of the recommendations in another study, titled the Hampton Bays Corridor Strategic Plan. That plan offers recommendations in the hamlet’s commercial corridor; the study specifically targeted the stretch of Montauk Highway between Jones Road to the west and the hamlet’s eastern boundary, near the Shinnecock Canal.

The new report offers a slew of recommendations, including suggested policy changes for the hamlet, that, once adopted, would be implemented through legislation approved by the Town Board.

Several colorful maps accompanying the report outline patterns that speak to the pressing issues facing the hamlet. They point to stark trends found in Hampton Bays: a rapid decline of developable, subdividable land, coupled with the creation of medium- and high-density residential developments. One chart notes that 33.7 percent of all residential development in Hampton Bays is of the “medium density” variety—a label that is based on the average number of residential units built per acre. In comparison, the figure averages around 13.8 percent for all other areas in Southampton Town.

At last week’s meeting, Ms. Eisenberg, the assistant planning and development administrator for the town, said Hampton Bays is approaching a near build-out in terms of residential development. She pointed out that only 10 percent of land in the hamlet that is still undeveloped can accommodate new homes.

The study also offers recommendations designed to guide future development in Hampton Bays. The suggestions are grouped into several categories: land use and zoning; community character; cultural, historical and archeological resources; environmental; community facilities; economic and fiscal considerations; traffic and transportation; and air quality and energy conservation.

Another long list calls for several modifications and improvements. For example, one recommendation suggests enacting a tree protection ordinance to preserve large, mature trees, a move designed to help prevent clear cutting. Other recommendations include the installation of traffic signals to mitigate traffic congestion in problem spots.

The study also offers ways to make Hampton Bays more pedestrian-friendly through the installation of new sidewalks, and working with the Long Island Rail Road and Suffolk County Transit to provide more frequent public transportation service in the area. Additionally, it recommends the creation of bike paths, lanes and routes.

The document also emphasizes the importance of the hamlet’s historical resources. One map focuses on the ages of buildings, pointing out that while most structures in Hampton Bays were built in the 1970s and later, some date back to the 1920s. The report recognizes that the Canoe Place Inn may be demolished or redeveloped by its owners, Gregg and Mitchell Rechler, and recommends that if the inn is ultimately torn down, its demolition should be overseen by a qualified archaeologist. It also notes that the town should use its discretionary powers to encourage the rehabilitation and reuse of the inn.

Mr. Murphree, the town’s planning and development administrator, and Ms. Eisenberg briefly summarized some key findings of the long-awaited study for the Town Board last week. Ms. Eisenberg noted that throughout the drafting of the document, some key community concerns that had surfaced related to planned development districts—a controversial planning tool that allows developers to bypass current zoning as long as they provide some sort of community benefit. That legislation has come under heavy fire in recent months, and it remains the subject of research and reform by a planning policy committee recently organized by Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

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$235,000 for "consultants"!!! what a freakin waste- to consult about the traffic ??
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Dec 8, 10 10:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
My recently formed consultant firm "Consultant Consultants" would be happy to look into this atrocious behavior for a nominal consultant fee (plus expenses)
By loading... (588), quiogue on Dec 9, 10 10:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
hey, check the date! 9, 10 11:12
so cool
By loading... (588), quiogue on Dec 9, 10 11:12 AM
I thought the reason they hired Ms. Eisenberg away from Cashen Associaties was so they wouldn't have to CONTINUE to pay for Consultants and we would now have some one to do it IN HOUSE.

Hmm... I guess it's Hard for Ms. Eisenberg to do all of that work since she only comes to the office 2 days a week and works from her palatial NYC apartment the other 3 days.....
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 9, 10 8:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
All this talk about the cost of the study just - wait until you read what they recommend.

It doesn't matter what the community input is, it will be utterly ignored in a document that will be adopted as part of the Town's comprehensive plan, and you will spend the next decade fighting to stop the development that results from it.

A town study is the kiss of death. It will only make things worse.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Dec 15, 10 10:23 PM
The Comprehensive Plan is itself a waste of paper. When it was being researched the surveys were said to be advisory only and were extremely simplistic; now it is supposedly the law of the land.

Asking for preferences between a picture of a dumpster and a picture of a beachscape leads to a conclusion dumpsters should be outlawed. Nobody was given the choice between a garbage collection area and a beach strewn with debris. Who picked a gas station over a cutesy boutique? No one, but ...more
By VOS (1230), WHB on Dec 16, 10 1:27 PM
Boy! how I could clean up a town with that money.
By LongIslander (43), HAMPTON BAYS on Dec 29, 10 10:18 PM
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