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Dec 10, 2014 11:46 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Ready To Make Decision On Canoe Place Inn Plan

Dec 10, 2014 12:01 PM

The Southampton Town Board expects to make a final decision on an ambitious mixed-use development plan, one that would forever alter the appearance of both shores of the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays, at its first meeting of 2015, scheduled for January 13.

On Tuesday night, the board closed the public comment period on the proposed Canoe Place Inn maritime planned development district following the conclusion of the third multi-hour hearing on the plan filed by developers Gregg and Mitchell Rechler. It calls for residential development along the east side of the canal in exchange for renovating and reopening the Canoe Place Inn on the opposite shore.

Prior to closing the hearing, a parade of Hampton Bays residents criticized the plan to construct 37 townhouses where two waterfront restaurants once operated on the eastern banks of the canal, stating that such development is too intense and opposes what numerous town-ordered planning studies have suggested be done with the waterfront land.

Supporters of the PDD application, meanwhile, again applauded the multimillion-dollar renovation of the Canoe Place Inn and reopening it as a hotel and catering facility, the influx of new taxes from the development that would benefit the Hampton Bays School District, and the economic potential of the plan.

Town Board members said they had decided before Tuesday night’s meeting that if there were no new concerns raised about the project, they would close the hearing and begin their contemplation of its approval. Under the town’s PDD guidelines, four board members—defined as a supermajority—must sign off on the change of zone.

“In lieu of hearing anything new, we felt that time had come to close the hearing,” Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. “At this point, we feel we have sufficient material to deliberate on the local law that we will then consider for adoption or not. We will have that on for our January 13 meeting, about one month from now.”

Earlier in the evening, the developers, Gregg and Mitchell Rechler, had introduced some changes to their plans, in hopes of appeasing some of the criticisms by residents, as well as some of the concerns about the project raised by planning officials. Among the modifications, which were outlined by Gregg Rechler, were the addition of an extended floating dock that would run parallel to the canal shoreline, in about the same place where a dock now sits. Previously, the plan had called for only a smaller fishing pier that would have extended from the shoreline at the southern edge of the property.

Mr. Rechler said the architects of the project had also trimmed the roofline of the proposed townhouse complex by 18 inches, the most they could reduce it for design reasons, in response to a note from planning officials that the building exceeded the town’s 32-foot height restriction for residential buildings. Previously, the buildings had been shown as 35 feet high, which is the height of the town’s commercial building limit.

“We did go back and were able to come up with a resolution that would reduce the size from 35 feet, down to 33 and a half feet,” Mr. Rechler said. “So we kind of got halfway there and still maintained the architectural integrity of the buildings we’re proposing.”

Those changes did little to appease the objections of Hampton Bays residents who pointed to the canalside property as one that should be dedicated to the sort of commercial uses that welcome the public to the waterfront, as the existing zoning demands, and not private residential development.

“I’ve always envisioned that property as a Gosman’s Dock-type development,” said hamlet resident Robert Jay, referring to a waterfront site in Montauk. “It screams for it. It would bring people here. It would be great for visitors, it would be great for residents, it would be great for the town.”

Mr. Jay said the Rechlers’ original plans for the properties when they bought them 10 years ago were wiser: demolish the Canoe Place Inn and build a residential complex on that land, and pursue commercial development along the canal. In 2006, the Rechlers submitted plans for a condominium development on the CPI land. No official proposal had ever been made for the canal property prior to the filing of the PDD application.

Strong opposition from those pushing for the preservation of the Canoe Place Inn—which dates back to the 18th century, though the building itself has been reconstructed several times—derailed those plans and prompted the Rechlers to request the current PDD.

The alternative, however, has drawn just as vociferous a reaction from some residents, both for and against it.

“This plan offers no benefits to the community,” said Maud Kramer, one of the residents who had led the opposition to the demolition of the CPI, but has more recently stated that the proposed alternative is not an acceptable price to pay for saving it. “The canal property would be flattened. If the Rechlers are not interested in developing the property as it is zoned … do not turn a willful eye against the town’s own policies and guidelines.”

Several residents pointed to a catalog of town planning studies from the last 20 years—some of them just a year or two old and others still ongoing—that promote commercial development along the eastern side of the canal. In some cases, the studies specifically state that residential development should not be permitted along the shore.

“The Hampton Bays Corridor Strategic Plan from 2008 says to encourage an approach to tourism development of the eastern bank of the canal … including a re-emphasis on water-related resort and tourism uses, as opposed to condo conversions,” said Hampton Bays resident John Capone, while reading from excerpts of several town planning studies. “These are supposed to be the guiding documents for all of the town’s land use decisions. Otherwise, why do they even exist? What is the point even to having a Planning Department if decisions can be made that are contrary to its recommendations?”

The Rechlers, and their supporters, have pointed to the economic benefits of their plan and also noted that the townhouses would come with a cutting-edge septic treatment and groundwater filtration system that would prevent large amount of nitrates from entering the water. If allowed to develop their land under current zoning, the Rechlers would not be obligated to install such an expensive system. Those who live east of where the townhouses would be sited, however, have been adamant in their opposition to part of the treatment facility being housed in their neighborhood and not next door to the townhouses.

A hydrology consultant hired by the town, and paid for by the developers, told the Town Board this week that the most effective way to prevent the introduction of more nitrogen from a redeveloped CPI was not to require a complicated septic system. Instead, the consultant recommended the utilization of an underground filtration system that neutralizes nitrogen before it reaches water tables and seeps into the bay.

“I’m neutral to this project … but with respect to wastewater treatment, they have, in fact, stepped up,” Kevin McAllister, the former Peconic Baykeeper and founder of Defend H2O, a water quality advocate, said of the Rechlers. “When it comes to access, I’m a big proponent of shoreline access. I think the two can be reconciled. Perhaps that plan can be improved and a promenade can be accomplished while there’s still living space.”

Proponents of the plan continued to argue that the preservation and restoration of the CPI is a huge public benefit—a point dismissed by those who think it is not historic—and that demands to keep the eastern shoreline of the canal open to the public were nothing but a red herring.

“To those people who say we are going to lose access—I’ve never seen anybody at Tide Runners sitting in a beach chair reading a book,” quipped Lorry Werner. “A building like CPI would not be allowed to be destroyed anywhere else. It would be a very big mistake and very detrimental to Hampton Bays.”

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It looks like there's never going to be a compromise between those who think preserving and restoring the CPI is worth letting the Rechlers do what they propose for the rest of their Canal property, and those who think it isn't. The CPI is the coin in this transaction and the question is its value.

I happen to be in the group that believes the old wreck should come down and make room for something worthwhile, or maybe just open space, and let the Rechlers build what they can as of right. ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Dec 10, 14 6:07 PM
2 members liked this comment
They could build a huge nightclub as-of-right. Worthwhile?
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Dec 10, 14 8:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
We await with bated breath the approval of the Rechlers' development in anticipation of Anna Throne-Holst's subsequent career as a real estate broker.

By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 10, 14 10:25 PM
HHS, ATH is going to need someplace to hang her Real Estate salesperson license!
By alhavel (50), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 14 6:46 PM
What many of the people opposed to the plan do not realize, or refuse to accept, is that the Hampton Bays they remember is gone forever. R.I.P.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Dec 10, 14 11:29 PM
What's wrong with three commercial uses?

Not enough money in restaurants and canal side dining?

Nope, apparently there's not. We need to pack people and housing in like sardines because who needs places to eat or drink anyway...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 10, 14 11:46 PM
2 members liked this comment
To appease the Luddites standing in the way of progress, perhaps the Rechlers could set up a TV along North Rd. with a live feed of the (newly inaccessible) canal.

There's no reason why folks can't continue to enjoy it just because they can't get near it.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 11, 14 4:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
... these developers will continue to cut off public access to commercial property. It is happening in Montauk and on Dune Rd. The continued privatization of waterfront property is what is happening here.

I believe in property rights - as they exist relative to the established zoning codes. Every project before the town board requires massive zoning concessions with NO public give backs, especially with the CPI/Canal proposal.The PDD law is killing the town.

I find it reprehensible ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Dec 11, 14 7:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
How do you figure that "the Shinnecock Canal will be closed to the people of Southampton"? Talk about an exaggeration.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 14 10:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
Take a look at the site plans. Whereas there were formerly waterfront restaurants wherein normal folks could partake of a meal while enjoying the panoply of canal boat traffic, there will now be the monolithic Rechterville condos, with notional canal access for the hoi polloi [i.e. everyone but owners] but nowhere to actually park one's car.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 11, 14 3:21 PM
And what happens if they build as of right? Do you believe they will just rebuild the bit that is there now? There is actually a lot with where one can park their car should they want to use the public dock. Its on the site plans
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 14 3:22 PM
Funny you mention that public use of the restaurants along the canal. Seems to me the revolving carousel of businesses along the canal must have been full of normal folks eating and drinking there. Fact of the matter is you shouldnt be allowed to access the canal on that side because its a hazard to navigation of the canal. Adding drunk patrons does not help. I have seen quite a few close calls there when the locks are open and boats are passing. Kayaks in the middle of boat traffic are dangerous ...more
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on Dec 15, 14 8:40 AM
2 members liked this comment
it will be interesting to see of there will be true public access at the town homes to the canalfront and parking for residents who want to go there.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Dec 11, 14 12:39 PM
The land between the bays is at it’s narrowest point here, [why the canal was put here]. You have Sunrise Highway, LIRR, Montauk Highway, and all that dreadful, noisy canal traffic as well. The people that buy, if they buy, will complain about it all, it’s not just a restaurant-club with a few hours of music, or noise to contend with. It’s a steady stream of annoyance to the “residents” there. If they buy, they’ll complain, and up and move on, we know what the ...more
By alhavel (50), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 14 3:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Are you suggesting they won't notice the highway when they purchase their Town Home? The people behind Hampton Maid are surrounded by a train, the sunrise and montauk hwy and no one has "carved it up" and brought in transient people that I know of. How many motels has the town bought?

The treatment facility is on property they own. Ironically, as of right they can build a treatment plant there. No one is sending sewage up into a neighborhood. But it sure sounds terrible to keep stating ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 14 3:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
Because the proposed waste water treatment is offsite from the dense townhome development. It's across the highway and uphill in a completely residential area. If residential, they should treat their water onsite like everyone else in HB does.
By sco-b (3), Southampton on Dec 15, 14 7:04 AM
It makes alot of more sense to treat multiple properties at one site than the have multiple cesspools on site. The treatment plants are far more efficient than a cesspool and certainly multiple cesspools.
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on Dec 15, 14 8:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
Please take look at the town's website on the MPDD or talk to a planner. The proposed waste water treatment is on THEIR property which is zoned commercial. It is not "uphill in a completely residential area". Anyone who purchased residential property surrounded by commercial property did so knowing that going in. Or should have.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 16, 14 11:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
We should not change the zoning of the area one guys comments at the meeting hit the nail on the head. It is zoned one way and should stay that way
Building condos there is a black eye for the area but the owners will profit the most from it, thats why they would install a high tech septic system but if they cant build condos they snub there nose at all the residents, shame on them
A restaurant on the canal will get plenty of tourists to come and allow the boats passing trough to dock and ...more
By Patriot1776 (4), Manorville on Dec 11, 14 4:45 PM
A guy from Manorville talking about how to develop properly and responsibly? The reason Long Island is dieing a slow death is simply for selfish reasons. The not in my back yard attitude is making it almost impossible to allow anyone born on LI to stay and raise a family. The multitudes of people who moved from Manhattan to eastern LI now want everything to stay the way it was when they moved in. Forget about people needing affordable housing, new roads, and even a new drug store on the corner. ...more
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on Dec 15, 14 8:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
You're bashing a guy from Manorville, which the last I knew was still on Long Island and not far from Hampton Bays. Since you now live in South Carolina, don't tell us what we should have in our back yards. You left! I live in Hampton Bays. The Rechler's bought the property knowing what they can and can"t build. Build what the master plans states. They will still have their condos on the west side and we can have public access on the east, whether dining or otherwise to enjoy the canal.
By pcone (28), hampton bays on Dec 15, 14 9:26 PM
Did you ever think to ask why people wont stay to reside and raise families in Hampton Bays? I moved originally to find work and stayed to raise my family in a better atmosphere. The HB I grew up in no longer exists. Its been gone for a while. LI is a demographic time bomb. It will only take one or two more generations before you have squeezed all but the newly arrived from NYC living there and the drones to service them. The I have mine and not in my back yard approach of many is part of ...more
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on Dec 16, 14 9:17 AM
There is an old saying, you can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Since the 1960s the town has been making decisions that favor residential expansion in Hampton Bay.s While they close resort destination after resort destination. Now the economy and our business owners are suffering. The once lively resort scene has moved to Montauk. If the town wants to revive the economy of Hampton Bays they must say no to rezoning and commit themselves to the type of development that ...more
By Dale Nicholl (4), Shinnecock Hills on Dec 11, 14 4:58 PM
Where is there a plan for "residential homes" on either of these properties?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 14, 14 12:20 PM
If by "once lively resort scene" you mean group rentals, umpteen bars, and day-tripping, drunk-driving so-called "tourists," then Montauk may have them.
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Dec 14, 14 9:39 PM
3 members liked this comment
Yes, the old saying is true.
How it translates here: "You can't continue to use the bay as a toilet and expect the fish to stop dying."
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Dec 15, 14 5:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Rechlers claim they need the profits from 37 town houses on the east side of the Shinnecock Canal in order to rehabilitate, not restore, the Canoe Place Inn. That’s blackmail. They don’t need the profits, they WANT the profits, big ones. They should make a profit, that’s good business. But let them make it by building as of right. They knew what the zoning was when they bought those properties. It is Resort Waterfront Business, which includes, restaurants, hotel/motels, ...more
By Dale Nicholl (4), Shinnecock Hills on Dec 11, 14 5:02 PM
5 members liked this comment
I'm not sure your use of the word "blackmail" is correct. Please check the definition.
Please tell us what the profits will be so that we can judge whether they be big ones or small ones or in-between ones, wanted, needed or otherwise.
Furthermore, yes, we presume they knew what the underlying zoning was when they bought the property. But, since PDD had been suggested for the area for some years back already, are you sure that they didn't know that, too?
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Dec 15, 14 5:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Reverse the plan. The CPI should be replaced with a new building or buildings containing time shares or town houses that face the Canal. The "Tiderunners" property should contain restaurants and shops available to whoever wants to patronize them. The roadway should not be sold to the Rechlers since this road is congested enough already. Removing the entrance ramps will require new stop lights to control traffic. If possible let the town use CPF funds to acquire the Shinnecock Canal Property and ...more
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 14 5:13 PM
It may not be perfect, but it's better than anything Hampton Bays has seen in a very long time: a substantial investment that will raise values,, attract full-season visitors, improve water quality, and save an iconic Inn. If anyone doubts this read the FEIS, the SC Planning Commission Staff Report, and the FPM report-all objective, independent reports..
By goteam (3), islip on Dec 11, 14 5:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
Put the damn condos where the cottages are on the west side, there’s already a traffic light there. Give CPI a 2 level parking arrangement in the rear of CPI, it’s on a hill, and near the train tracks, it would be a great sound buffer, and wouldn’t look nearly as bad as 37 greedy townhouses on the east side. Put new restaurants, and shops on the east side and keep the sewage treatment where they envision it for the east side businesses. Then everyone gets a little of what they ...more
By alhavel (50), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 14 6:41 PM
3 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bigblue84 (89), Hampton Bays on Dec 11, 14 8:54 PM
It's blackmail pure and simple and it's despicable. Everyone above is right who said the plan should be either swapped or scrapped. What a loss to the entire town. Don't for one minute think your area won't be next. Everything is up for sale to the highest bidder until none of the people who built these towns will be left. Congratulations Town Board, you've finally run all the tourists out of town!
By eagleeye (82), Sag Harbor on Dec 11, 14 10:31 PM
2 members liked this comment
Yes! Many of you have it so right! Swap the construction. I can guarantee that I, many other locals, and tourists will visit canal-side restaurants, cafes and shops a lot more than a renovated CPI hotel/catering facility. This plan is just plain backwards.
By getalife (61), Southampton on Dec 12, 14 9:52 AM
Boardy Barn gets a train, and at least 8 buses on weekends, no one says anything to that. The pilgrimage from the RR station west on Montauk highway is insane. We could use an upscale CPI as well as destination restaurants and shops on the east side of the canal. Gosmans is a perfect example of what would work there, on the east side.

Just don’t let the Rechler’s install one of those knocked-up Olive Oil free standing sculptures on either premise, like they did in Westhampton.
By alhavel (50), Hampton Bays on Dec 12, 14 10:32 AM
I think the correct spelling is "Olive Oyl" but I'm not old enough to remember for sure.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Dec 14, 14 11:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
OMG- the locals don't support anything. Wake up alhavel! There's not much left out here to support the tourist trade and a single restaurant will no longer have an impact.

The Rechler's project is fabulous and they're will to spend millions of dollars to build and improve Hampton Bays. You should be kissing their butts in Macy's window.
By whatapity (106), Tuckahoe on Dec 12, 14 11:33 AM
if we listened to the just say no crowd we would still be shopping a key food on ponquogue with the mice and roaches, the new king kullen would not exsist or the stop n shop or the mac donalds, and i guess the latin club / dinner and the town deils would love it
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Dec 19, 14 9:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
It doesn't matter. It's way to late for HB.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Dec 15, 14 5:54 PM
says you,
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Dec 18, 14 4:40 PM
anything new in Hampton Bays is better than what is there now
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Dec 16, 14 9:36 AM
There you go again, you seem to take any chance you get to take pot shots at HB, stay in westhampton where you think its so wonderful, I think its boring
By They call me (2826), southampton on Dec 18, 14 4:32 PM
Prior to closing the hearing, a parade of Hampton Bays residents criticized the plan

and an equal parade of Hampton Bays residents loved it !
By Erin 27 E (1281), southampton on Dec 18, 14 4:39 PM
I would like to know how some of you keep bitcn about water quality from a state of the art treatment system yet know one has the courage to confront the marinas all around the canal that pollute the water with solvents,oil, bottom paint, fiberglass and cleaners 10 months of the year!

Dec 20, 14 6:10 PM appended by Undocumented Democrat
Thats what I thought , CRICKETS!
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Dec 19, 14 6:10 PM
That would be proactive, not reactive. Don't see too much proactive.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 21, 14 8:12 AM