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Jun 7, 2010 12:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Crowds come to discuss project proposed in Tuckahoe

Jun 7, 2010 12:17 PM

TUCKAHOE—At Tuesday night’s informational meeting on a proposed 120,000-square-foot commercial development off County Road 39 in Tuckahoe, the hamlet’s Citizens Advisory Committee chairwoman, Bonnie Goebert, asked the crowd if anyone wanted to speak in favor of the project.

There was only silence, and a few snickers.

Virtually everyone who did take to the podium during the two-hour meeting—21 people in all—spoke out against the project, dubbed “Tuckahoe Main Street” by the developers seeking a change of zone and other approvals to clear the way for a supermarket, various retail shops and apartments on a cluster of properties just outside Southampton Village.

“This is royally screwing up my house,” said Sean Hattrick, who complained that the parking lot for the shopping center would be less than 5 feet from his property line. He told the approximately 50 people in the audience at the cafeteria of the Tuckahoe Elementary School that if the project wins all of the necessary approvals, each morning he will have to listen to workmen loading boxes of produce and inventory into the 40,000-square-foot King Kullen that would anchor the development, which also features 12 apartments, six of which are slated to be offered as affordable housing.

The purpose of the meeting was for developer Bob Morrow, who also built the King Kullen-anchored Hampton Bays Center complex on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays, to hear the opinions of the community. He did not speak, but his attorney, Mary Jane Asato, told the crowd that she wanted to know what they would like to see fill in the 10 retail shops that would flank the supermarket.

“We were asked to come and listen to your ideas,” Ms. Asato said. “This is only the beginning.”

The answer from many of the speakers was that they want nothing to be changed on the 12.4 acres of land, which is largely vacant, except for a 15,000-square-foot now-empty group home building, four houses and a shop. Four acres of the property is now zoned highway business, and another 8 acres is zoned residential.

With the Town Board considering the application, numerous county, state and local agencies will be called on to comment on the proposal as part of an environmental review process, Ms. Asato explained. After that, the town will hold a public scoping session on the proposal.

To move forward with the project, Mr. Morrow must convince the Town Board to approve a Planned Development District on the targeted properties, a special zoning designation that allows uses banned under current zoning. The Town Board is empowered to create such a district and in late April voted 4-1, with Councilman Chris Nuzzi dissenting, to consider the Morrow application.

John Bennett, an attorney in Southampton Village, criticized town lawmakers at Tuesday’s meeting. “The Town Board should’ve and can say no,” he said.

Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming attended Tuesday’s meeting and told the crowd that the board’s work on considering the project had just begun, and said that the new administration in Town Hall is working hard to bring public input in quickly, such as by having a pre-submission work session on the project. That work session was held in late March.

Town Councilman Jim Malone, who was also at Tuesday’s meeting, told the audience that the Tuckahoe development proposal “certainly is not a project that is going forward on greased tracks.”

Some who attended Tuesday night’s session acknowledged that another supermarket in Southampton Village—which once boasted three and now has only one—is needed.

Also, John Tortorella, who owns J. Tortorella Custom Gunite Pools on County Road 39, mentioned that the four-lane highway the proposed development would front could use some beautification. Mr. Tortorella, who voiced some support for the project Tuesday night, said that the County Road 39 corridor has “been an eyesore for some time.”

“Tuckahoe is the gateway to the Hamptons and it needs to be beautified somehow,” he said, adding that many people were vehemently opposed to the King Kullen development in Hampton Bays but now like it.

Negative comments overshadowed the positive though.

“This insults the intelligence of every single one of you, to suggest this is an appropriate use,” Mr. Bennett said. He said that the project is not appropriate for the oldest English settlement in New York State.

“This is a downtown buster,” he said, adding that Southampton Village could end up being plagued by the same problems as Patchogue and Riverhead.

Karen LeClerc, who owns Renaissance on Main Street in Southampton Village, was present at the meeting and looking to get signatures on a petition that supports local businesses. “They can’t just come in and destroy our livelihood,” she said of the developers behind the project.

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I attended this meeting. A very strong turnout and everyone who spoke was indeed AGAINST this proposed monstrosity.

Bridget Fleming and Jim Malone both spoke and both attempted to mislead by saying we are in the very early stages of this proposal. Not true. This has been under consideration for over three years now.

I found it very interesting that not one of the developers in attendance that evening even attempted to defend themselves. Either they feel they already have the ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jun 3, 10 1:18 PM
what is wrong with everyone. We need a grocery store and other stores to help the people around here. Walbaumbs is terrible. ask anyone who goues there. We need competition in this area.
It should not be the people who own stores deciding who or what comes to Southhampton.
It should be for the good of the community!!!!!!!!!!!!
By Kate (2), Southampton on Jun 8, 10 8:29 AM
You may "want" another grocery store, but you certainly don't "need" it. What we need is to stop this nonsensical, over-development. PDD's are a joke. This land is NOT zoned for this purpose and this development should be stopped dead in its tracks. A new mini-mall is NOT beneficial to this community.
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 8, 10 11:06 AM