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Dec 12, 2017 4:58 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Delays PDD Extension Vote For Canoe Place Inn

Buildings on the site of the proposed condo project along the Shinnecock Canal were torn down last week. DANA SHAW
Dec 13, 2017 11:29 AM

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday delayed its decision on whether to extend the special zoning granted for the Canoe Place Inn redevelopment project in Hampton Bays for another two years, with its members saying they need more information.

Board members now are expected to vote on the extension—which, if approved, is expected to help clear the path for the redevelopment along both banks of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays—at a special meeting scheduled for Thursday, December 21, at 10 a.m. at Town Hall.

The Town Board decided to table the resolution for one week to give the town’s Planning Board members additional time to comment on the extension of the planned development district zoning for the project. They are expected to offer comments on the proposed extension at the board’s next meeting on Thursday, December 14, at 2 p.m.

The developers—R Squared Development LLC, a division of Rechler Equity Partners LLC—plan to build 37 townhouses on the eastern side of the canal and restore the old Canoe Place Inn on the western side, creating a new 25-room inn. Additionally, the developer plans to build a 1,900-square-foot clubhouse and a 300-seat catering hall on the 5.6-acre property on the west side of the canal.

The PDD for the Canoe Place Inn was approved by the Town Board in January 2015, but it had a three-year expiration date: January 21, 2018. The law enacting the special zoning notes that one of its requirements is that the developer must begin “substantial building” before the law expires.

Some demolition and clearing work has been completed, but a May 2015 lawsuit filed by a group of homeowners who oppose the project has hindered the developers, cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler, from securing the necessary Suffolk County Health Department and town building permits to move forward with any construction.

Mitchell Rechler, who made a statement to the Town Board on Tuesday asking for the extension to be approved, said that he and his cousin have already invested $5.3 million into the project and have been working on moving it forward every day since it was approved nearly three years ago.

The lawsuit filed by the homeowners, called the Shinnecock Neighbors, made a number of complaints against the developer. Though State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen threw out most of the charges, he agreed that, before moving forward, the developers should address water pressure issues on the eastern property.

In response, the Rechlers have agreed to invest $180,000 to tap a pair of nearby Suffolk County Water Authority mains to provide public water to the 4.5-acre property, on which the townhouses eventually will be constructed.

The agreement was included in a supplemental final environmental impact statement, or SFEIS, that was deemed complete by the Town Board during a special meeting on December 7. Once the town approves the findings statement for the SFEIS—the last step in the State Environmental Quality Review process—the Rechlers should be able to secure the necessary permits to finally begin building.

Nearly 50 people—a mix of project supporters and opponents—filled the Town Board room on Tuesday to voice their opinions on the proposed extension.

Susan von Freddi, president of the Hampton Bays Beautification Association, urged the board members to approve the PDD extension, noting that the run-down inn is the first thing people see when they enter the hamlet. The project proposed by the Rechlers would completely renovate the former inn.

“Hampton Bays is a beautiful, wonderful town, and this is the last corner of it that really needs to be revitalized,” Ms. Von Freddi said.

Hampton Bays Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen, who emphasized that he was speaking on behalf of his entire Board of Education, added to that sentiment. “It will have a positive impact on our district tax base,” he said, adding that the redevelopment is not expected to add students to the school district.

He was joined by Dot Capuano, who sits on the School Board and also serves as president of the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce, and Board of Education Vice President Kevin Springer, who also is the owner of Dynamic Legal Services in the hamlet. Both offered comments in support of the project and the granting of the extension.

Though there was a lot of support, some expressed opposition as well.

Janis Landis, president of the Hampton Bays Civic Association, urged the Town Board to reject the extension because of the project’s potential impact on the environment and the developer’s delay in starting construction. Several members of the civic association stood up in agreement with her. “Why did the construction delay happen?” Ms. Landis asked.

Rita Knox, a hamlet resident and part of the Shinnecock Neighbors, added that the Town Board should deny the extension because the developers did not start significant building in time. She noted that the litigation filed by her group did not include a stay on work.

“This is concerning to us,” Ms. Knox said. “I hope it’s concerning to you too.”

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Dec 12, 2017 4:58 PM
By Amanda Bernocco
The Southampton Town Board voted on Tuesday afternoon to extend the planned development district law for the Canoe Place Inn project in Hampton Bays for another two years.

Delayed or voted yes?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 17 6:19 PM
It's ridiculous what people have to go through before they can build on THEIR OWN PROPERTY.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Dec 12, 17 7:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
It’s time to build. Let’s get this project going. Enough with all the delays!!!!
By Tomjulie (43), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 17 7:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
Let's hope their cesspool system is not "grandfathered" in like the project on Foster Ave. HB. When a project affects whats left of our Bays, it needs to come under more scrutiny. Hopefully the powers that be are doing the right thing.
By clamdigger (85), Quogue on Dec 13, 17 10:38 AM
When I listen to those that say that 'nothing was done' or they did 'not start significant building in time' I wonder if the speakers have ever applied for any permit of any sort in Southampton Town. It is just mind boggling when the developer says all that has been done and they reply that nothing has been done. This process is lengthy and involved. It involves more than one agency. Not to mention, the lawsuit, that they brought, caused another requirement to be met, which of course involved ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 13, 17 1:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
"begin substantial building" is defined how is the big question. Either they followed the PDD approval or they did not.
By Taz (725), East Quogue on Dec 13, 17 2:27 PM
There is no question the Town Board should approve the extension. The idea of denying the extension serves no purpose except to keep Hampton Bays looking like a dump. I don't know the developers but I thank them for wanting to invest in our Hamlet.
By yogi1 (14), on Dec 14, 17 12:09 PM
1 member liked this comment