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May 5, 2009 8:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Number of units proposed in Water Mill may be reduced

May 5, 2009 8:21 PM

An application to build as many as 29 individual units of office and retail space that has come under public scrutiny may be altered to include plans for 13 offices and two retail stores, the planner for the project said this week.

A portion of the application requesting permission to construct three or more retail uses on the western side of the project, to be located off Station Road, may soon be withdrawn so that the applicant, a limited liability company called Bridgehampton Partners, can proceed with the rest of its plans. The news this week came from Kyle Collins of KPC Planning in Westhampton Beach, who is one of the planners representing Bridgehampton Partners LLC before the Southampton Town Planning Board. Former Southampton Town Councilman Dennis Suskind is a principal in the LLC.

The application proposes to construct seven new buildings, which will contain offices and retail uses, on Station Road in Water Mill. The buildings are expected to have a total square footage of 23,258 square feet. The plan also includes a teardrop shaped turnaround that will prevent cars in the parking lot from accessing Nowedonah Avenue, an aspect of the plan that the developers are hoping will appease residents, including members of the Water Mill Citizens Advisory Committee, who have spoken out at hearings saying they are concerned about traffic onto that street.

Traffic associated with the site has already become a focal point for members of the Southampton Town Planning Board in their review of the application. Over the past month, Planning Board members have asked Mr. Collins and his associates to conduct their own count of cars utilizing the parking lot of the Water Mill Shoppes, which the applicants intend to use to eliminate the need for additional parking at their site. Currently, the Planning Board is evaluating the plan taking into consideration that Bridgehampton Partners is permitted to use 55 existing parking spaces in the Water Mill Shoppes parking lot, nearly one-fourth of the 207 parking spaces required for the new project. If the application is approved, only 152 new spaces will have to be constructed.

Under the proposal, Bridgehampton Partners will construct a road connecting their development with the Water Mill Shoppes. That road has also been the subject of recent discussion. In late April, Planning Board members requested that the applicants provide a more in-depth map detailing exactly how traffic will flow from one site to the other.

The portion of the application that would be affected by the special exception is on the western side of the project, known as Water Mill Station, includes a proposal for three buildings, proposed to be 5,000 square feet, 1,759 square feet, and 4,499 square feet. On the eastern side, the applicants are proposing to construct four 3,000-square-foot buildings that are permitted to house 14 offices, but will more likely become eight offices.

“It comes down to marketability,” said Mr. Collins, noting that if the building housed 14 offices they would each only be approximately 850 square feet.

In a letter to the editor published in this week’s edition of The Press, members of the Water Mill Citizens Advisory Committee said they believed the project would contribute to the traffic problems that already exist in the hamlet.

On Tuesday, Water Mill CAC Chairwoman Rachel Verno said she was concerned about the density of the proposed development and the flow of traffic onto Nowedonah Avenue. She argued that Nowedonah Avenue currently does not have that much traffic, and encouraging shoppers to go onto that street would allow them to make a left turn onto Montauk Highway, which can create problems with the flow of traffic.

“I think there’s a lot of parking credits, which allows the project to be a lot bigger,” she said, referring to the shared parking arrangement with the Water Mill Shoppes. “I think once a project is approved and it changes the community character you can’t go back.

“We all acknowledge that there’s a huge bottleneck in Water Mill,” she continued. “We should have projects that are a proper size for the land, and not make them any bigger than they should be.”

Eileen Noonan, president of the Water Mill Community Club, which is located on Nowedonah Avenue, agreed with Ms. Verno.

“Right now Nowedonah is basically dead-end street with little or no traffic,” she said, noting that she was concerned for the safety of those people who use the ballfield adjacent to the road. “By opening it up, it can become a major byway.”

Mr. Suskind, however, said that their concerns are unfounded.

“The concerns on Nowedonah are overreactional,” he said on Tuesday. “We don’t believe that’s the case by far, and nor do our consultants.”

Mr. Suskind was referring to two traffic studies that were completed on the application, both of which stated that the anticipated traffic as a result of the project was not expected to be excessive.

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Why do we need more retail and office space in this town? Have a look around and you see a glut of empty spaces ready for rent. Over-development is destroying our communities.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on May 6, 09 8:25 AM
This has been in the pipeline for three years?? Didn't Mr. Collins and Mr. Suskind work for us at Town Hall 3 years ago? Did they start this plan as town officials?
By Hampton (50), Westhampton on May 7, 09 1:43 PM