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Nov 17, 2011 5:38 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Mayor Won't Check Out Supermarket Proposal

Nov 22, 2011 12:46 PM

Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Conrad Teller had one word for two developers and a group of residents who attended last week’s work session to discuss a new supermarket proposal: “No.”

Despite the small crowd that had convened at Village Hall to express their support of the idea, Mr. Teller put his foot down and said there would be no discussion on the matter until a formal application had been filed by the developers—and maybe not even then.

Village Attorney Richard Haefeli reminded those in attendance on November 16 that board members will ultimately decide if they’re going to entertain a formal application, if one is filed, because the supermarket—which the developers want to build on the west side of Old Riverhead Road, just south of the railroad tracks—would require a change of zone.

“I have no intention to change our zoning law,” Mr. Teller said. “I don’t see any reason to belabor this further.”

When audience members asked if they could speak, the mayor said firmly: “It’s over.”

Members of the group, led by developer Andrew Mendelson, then stormed out of the meeting room and congregated in the outside hall for about 20 minutes before leaving.

“All I came there for was to ask for a public informational session, and I get executed,” Mr. Mendelson said when reached the next afternoon.

“They made a decision based on no application and [are] destroying it before it even got to the public,” he continued. “I don’t intend to go away. I don’t want to get into a battle, but I do want them to pay attention to the fact that the vast majority of people want this.”

East Quogue resident Carolee Kass, who attended the meeting, said she was disappointed with its outcome. Ms. Kass, who used to shop at the Waldbaum’s on Sunset Avenue in Westhampton Beach, said she is not happy with the food quality or selection offered there. In turn, she now does most of her grocery shopping at the Stop & Shop in Hampton Bays.

“The mayor was so rude,” Ms. Kass said. “It was a kangaroo court. He’s a mayor—elected to be the voice of the people. He’s not the dictator.”

Mr. Mendelson originally appeared before the board on October 6 to ask that members consider his request for a public information session regarding his proposal. Though he has not yet filed an application with the village, Mr. Mendelson is looking to build an estimated 40,000-square-foot supermarket on 4.2 acres that he owns.

The issue is that the property, which is actually two parcels, is not zoned for a supermarket. According to Village Planner Kyle Collins, the parcel adjacent to Old Riverhead Road is zoned B-3 Business while the second property is a flag lot that’s zoned industrial. Both properties are now vacant. Grocery stores are allowed to be built only on land that’s zoned B-1 Business, which includes most of the village’s downtown business district.

Mr. Mendelson and fellow developer Bob Gianos attended the work session with the intent of asking the board if it had decided whether or not to consider their request for a informational meeting. The goal of the meeting, Mr. Mendelson said, was to get a sense of the public’s sentiment regarding their proposal.

Mr. Collins began last week’s meeting by offering an explanation of the history of zoning in the village, since it was adopted in 1953. Although there have been some changes to the village’s master plan over the years, Mr. Collins said its basic principle has not been altered: that the downtown business district be geared toward everyday needs and services, while the highway corridors—which includes Old Riverhead Road—were designed to host specific services, such as appliance and furniture stores.

“The purpose was to maintain the integrity of Main Street as a primary shopping area,” Mr. Collins said, adding that the same goal exists in the most recent comprehensive plan update.

Mr. Collins pointed to other communities, including Riverhead, Patchogue and Port Jefferson, that were negatively impacted by a huge influx of retail uses permitted along highway corridors that ultimately drew shoppers away from their respective downtowns. Waldbaum’s, the only supermarket in Westhampton Beach, is located on Sunset Avenue, just north of Main Street.

“Forefathers of the village had it right in the 1950s, and we still have it right,” Mr. Collins concluded.

Frank Isler, the attorney for the developers, said he had information that directly contradicted what Mr. Collins had said. “It’s simply not true,” he said.

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Mr Teller was correct-there was no need to hear these people. Resident's do not want changes to the zoning and master plan.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Nov 17, 11 6:42 PM
2 members liked this comment
I think the Stop & Shop in Hampton Bays would be more convenient to the Kass woman -- and like the Riverhead one I often use, it's bigger, cleaner and offers better selection and more competitive pricing.

Mendelsen should stop sniveling -- he's a typical developer who isn't getting his way. And after what he contributed to the death of Riverhead's wonderful Main Street, he SHOULD have been executed!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Nov 17, 11 10:30 PM
The people of Westhampton, Westhampton Beach, Quogue and Remsenberg deserve a real supermarket. Waldbaum's does not even qualify as a poor substitute and with A&P's bankruptcy never will, even after forcing out National. Teller acts like a despot and calls on historical (hysterical?) zoning decisions to curtail dialogue. Maybe he'd like to kick out RiteAid and put Bohack's back?

What influence makes him back Waldbaum's? Who does his shopping? Reminds me of when a recent president ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 17, 11 11:07 PM
3 members liked this comment
Remsenburg = Eastport King Kullen. Fine by me.
By rburger (82), Remsenburg on Nov 18, 11 6:22 AM
recent? that was 1992
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Nov 30, 11 11:27 AM
The Waldbaums in WHB definitely has a monopoly right now , competition would be a good thing for the consumers , bring in a Stop & Shop ! The location on Riverhead road seems to be a perfect one, Do Not allow satellite stores to draw business away from the thriving downtown,( there still seems to be a plague of Real Estate Stores clogging up Main Street ! )
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Nov 18, 11 7:32 AM
Its unfortunate that these Village mayors don't consider the local consumers and cost of living and protect the real estate values and shops in their villages instead. In SH village we faced the opposition to a King Kullen in Tuckahoe, albeit part of a larger development. We should not be forced to drive to Riverhead for more affordable shopping options. The impact of larger stores on smaller village businesses is overblown. They usually have nothing to do with each other. The boutiques cater ...more
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Nov 18, 11 8:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
The sale flyers for the Waldbaums in Westhampton are different than the flyers for the rest of the chain's Long Island stores. The prices are significantly higher, and the Westhampton store does not offer the same sales as all the other Waldbaums (including other Hamptons Waldbaums).

Monopoly is right.

There is nothing to gain by not listening to the constituents. He could have allowed them to comment, and then said no.

Does the Mayor have any business ties to Waldbaums ...more
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Nov 18, 11 9:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Mayor and Board dont get that shopping on Main Street and grocery shopping are two different activities. Promote new business Mayor. The taxes will help to support the new generous contract you just gave the police Chief. Did you read Newsday last week? The funding of pension benefits the Village will be paying its employees- police- and yes teachers and administration staff (Southampon Town) will double by 2013. Us 1% will have no problem funding these pensions. Keep up the good work bringing ...more
By realistic (472), westhampton on Nov 18, 11 9:16 PM
Im a village resident and vote , I want this NEW Supermarket. Waldbaums is TERRIBLE !
By Austin (3), Austin on Nov 18, 11 10:45 PM
2 members liked this comment
Yes, build, build, build. Destroy the very fabric of the east end and everything will be better. All in the name of some whining children who want what they want and are not interested in anything else aside from satisfying their insatiable, personal want.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Nov 18, 11 10:53 PM
So you want working families to pay more for the necessities of life so a trash strewn brownfield site can be "preserved"? Are these the spoiled children you are referring to?

Knee jerk reactions based on nothing but emotion, over the top hyperbole, unprovoked insults, and a complete lack of logical thinking are what one would expect from an immature teenager.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Nov 19, 11 11:17 AM
I guess you have not been to Waldbaums to see the quality of produce or the aged dilapidated store. This town needs business (tax revenue) to support itself. Possibly a vibrant year round Main Street in our future. But we need more business. I would prefer to shop locally- support local jobs and business then go two or three towns over. If you take a moment to look you will see the fabric slowly being destroyed as we speak.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Nov 19, 11 7:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
Nobody mentioned that even when Waldbaums wanted to expand and improve their existing store in to the old National Hardware Store, the Village Trustees shot that proposal down too. It's fairly obvious that there is some other agenda that the Mayor has but simply wont share it with the public. He's a known bully and has deep rooted cohorts that surround him. I have always found WHB a very negative place to shop - merchants rarely smile (with a few exceptions) and this is just another example ...more
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Nov 19, 11 10:20 AM
Hello, BIGjimbo, is anyone home? The Trustees do not approve site plans the Planning Board does and the VIllage Planning Board approved the Waldbaums expansion four years ago! I also go to Barth's pharmacy, Goldberg's bagels, Beach Bakery, Sydney's, Lynne's card and gift to name just a few WHB merchants and everybody is friendly and smiling. Tell the truth BIGjimbo, you are 40 years old, have never actually gotten out of your car when passing through WHB , you live in the basement of your mother's ...more
By silverbeaver666 (8), westhampton on Nov 19, 11 11:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
I stand corrected - those were my "few exceptions" ....

A few things to consider:

If you think the mayor doesn't personally influence other board members you're wrong. The Village Trustees absolutely discuss projects with Zoning Board Members and Planning Board Members over coffee at Bun and Burger or Ekharts...

I am 42, I prefer Fritos over Cheetos & I live in the attic apartment.
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Nov 20, 11 3:31 PM
One of the filthiest supermarkets on all of Long Island. Why anyone shops there is beyond me. Buckets catch the rain water when it pours. A new and beautiful Fairway just opened in Douglaston, where an old Waldbaum's once stood. The building is an eyesore and needs the wrecking ball.
By rightwing (18), East Quogue on Nov 23, 11 12:52 PM
Maybe the Mayor should look into getting Walbaums to clean up its act if he is sure that the residents don't want to change the zoning to allow a Supermarket on CR31. Walbaums is poorly maintained and anything you buy in the dairy section is usually bad.... I have had terrible luck there over the past few years and only go there when I have to or need something that doesn't require being frozen or kept refrigerated. Most recently stopped in to see if they carried the single serve apples with fruit ...more
By eqresident (4), East Quogue on Nov 28, 11 2:10 PM
Sounds like you need a new mayor:) Waldbaum's is awful in Southampton as well...but at least we are finally trying to bring in another supermarket!
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Nov 28, 11 7:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
What did he contribute to Riverhead?
By Summer Resident (251), Manhattan on Nov 30, 11 9:54 AM
Westhampton Beach does need a new Mayor. Unfortunately he does what he wants and not what his constituents want. Typical politician. He seems to want to keep the town a sleepy little eastend town not realizing its needs to grow to survive.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Dec 1, 11 8:48 AM
Have any of you read the story? The developers are trying to 1)skirt required procedures by going right to the Board of Trustees and 2) A supermarket on 31 would take traffic and customers from "downtown'. That Walbaums is a pig sty is not the issue. If people would vote with their pocketbooks, things might change at Walbaums.
Want a new Mayor? It is called Election Day.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Dec 1, 11 10:27 AM
Ever notice how much talk exists about local government trying to amend private business (specifically, the supermarket)?
By Hambone (514), New York on Dec 5, 11 11:57 AM
Westhampton Beach needs a new mayor!!!!!
By JulieJ (2), Westhampton on May 17, 14 11:40 AM