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Jan 9, 2012 2:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Developer Seeks Change To Westhampton Beach Zoning Code To Allow For New Supermarket

Jan 11, 2012 1:27 PM

A developer seeking to build a new supermarket in Westhampton Beach took formal steps this week to get the ball rolling.

On Monday, Westhampton resident Andrew Mendelson hand-delivered a petition to Westhampton Beach Village Hall asking officials to change the village’s zoning code to allow supermarkets in the underlying zoning of two properties that he owns on Old Riverhead Road, south of the Long Island Rail Road station.

“I’m only asking for the addition of two words”—“grocery stores”—Mr. Mendelson pointed out. “It’s that simple.”

Mr. Mendelson and his business partners are looking to build an estimated 40,000-square-foot supermarket on 4.2 acres that they own on the west side of Old Riverhead Road. The firm Self-Storage-Westhampton LLC, which has offices in Southampton, owns the two lots at 107 Old Riverhead Road and 105 Riverhead Road. The first parcel is zoned B-3 Business and the second is zoned Industrial. The petition asks officials to change the zoning code to include grocery stores as a permitted use in both zones.

But Westhampton Beach Village Planner Kyle Collins said that if the code were changed, the owners of any one of approximately 12 businesses in the village now zoned B-3 Business or Industrial would be allowed to build supermarkets on their properties—potentially opening the door for other similar proposals to follow.

Mr. Mendelson said he opted to seek a change to the zoning code rather than filing a formal application—which would have included a change of zone request—because an application that applied only to his property might be considered spot zoning. “This is not being done for me alone,” he said.

Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller, who flatly refused in November to grant Mr. Mendelson’s request for an informational meeting to outline his plan for a new supermarket because an application had yet to be filed, said on Monday that he believes Mr. Mendelson has begun taking the proper steps. Still, the mayor said he would like for Mr. Mendelson to file an application.

“He’s doing the right thing,” Mr. Teller said. But, the mayor added, “It should have been an application.”

Village Attorney Richard Haefeli said in the fall that Village Board members would ultimately decide if they were going to entertain a formal application, because the supermarket would require a change of zone.

Shoppers, Mr. Mendelson said, are heading to supermarkets in Hampton Bays and Riverhead, and drawing business away from the village, because they do not like the only option in town, the Waldbaum’s on Sunset Avenue. “I’m saying shop local,” he said. “Let’s get a decent supermarket and keep people here.”

Mr. Mendelson also delivered to Village Hall on Monday a copy of a survey he conducted in June that was distributed to 339 residents of Westhampton Beach and 384 people living in the surrounding communities of Remsenburg, Speonk, Westhampton and Quogue. The survey asked residents whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Waldbaum’s. Fifty-two percent of those living in Westhampton Beach, and 40 percent of those in the surrounding hamlets, said they do not like the supermarket, according to Mr. Mendelson.

Other survey questions asked residents where they purchase most of their groceries, and whether or not they visit Main Street while making trips to the supermarket. Some business owners in the village have said that allowing a supermarket on Old Riverhead Road would draw shoppers away from the heart of the village. According to the survey, only 15 percent of those living in Westhampton Beach said they would make fewer trips to Main Street if a supermarket opened north of Montauk Highway.

Some local business owners, meanwhile, have said that they don’t think allowing a second supermarket to open in the village will hurt their businesses.

“I’m not worried,’ said Elyse Richman, the owner of the Shock stores on Main Street in Westhampton Beach. “No one comes into my store with groceries. They don’t come in for eggs.”

Erin Finley, the owner of Sydney’s “Taylor” Made Cuisine, said that while she “hates” Waldbaum’s, she would prefer that a new supermarket be built closer to Main Street.

“I would love to see it closer, maybe in the old bowling alley,” said Ms. Finley, whose shop is also located on Main Street. “Sunset Avenue is becoming to look more and more decrepit. It’s really sad. I would hate to see them continue to build on the other side of Montauk Highway and have more vacancy down here.”

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And line my pockets too. But seriously we do need a better supermarket than Waldbaums which is a rip off and very often doesn't have the advertised specials and then you end up paying more for something else. Best yet in Riverhead is still the best bargin around.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Jan 9, 12 2:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
We need a new supermarket. Village officials would be helping the community by showing as much flexibility as possible. Obviously design is very important and should be monitored closely, but competition is a good thing.
By Steven (113), Westhampton on Jan 9, 12 3:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
Afetr decades in the "Best Hamptons"... Both age and opportunities took us a bit farther south.
With on going sunshine being the the tops of the most desirable trade offs upon relocating... A close runner up would be our " Publix" supermarket .
All too often the folks there have us saying ( sarcastically )" doesn't that remind you of Waldbaums?",,,??!! Bag for you.. Buy one get one free... Carry out service.. Customize every deli order .. On and on. Yes mam no sir... Return anything open ...more
By kahuna (70), Tampa on Jan 9, 12 3:37 PM
Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes are the only supermarkets on the island that seem to have an interest in catering to the customer.

It's hard to believe that there are no Whole Foods or TJ's on the affluent east end, and precious few Stop and Shop's.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Jan 9, 12 3:42 PM
I hope you are not saying that WHB is the best hamptons. that town is a joke
By ranger (54), springs on Jan 9, 12 4:54 PM
Nothing illustrates the need for a new supermarket in the area than this:

Waldbaums uses the same weekly sales flyer for every store west of WHB.

The WHB flyer is different, and not becuase the prices are lower.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Jan 9, 12 3:38 PM
“The court of a public opinion on zoning matters is not the way to go.”

Mayor Teller should have learned by now that the court of public opinion is exactly what he is responsible to. Does this mean he will not seek reelection?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 9, 12 9:43 PM
Sounds like WHB really has a firm grip on zoning. Of course this is the same group that stopped the North Mall from sprucing up and adding a second floor. And this is the same group that allowed a restaurant to be built over a car dealership. Nothing says romantic dinner like 10W40.

BTW that Self-Storage site is ugly. Looks like army barracks
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 9, 12 10:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
what's wrong with driving to Hampton Bays or Riverhead for groceries (approx. avg. 7.2 miles each way). How close do you need to be to a 40,000 sq ft. supermarket?

half of a mile?
1 mile?
2 miles?
3 miles?

We might need 3 new supermarkets!
By dogfacejones (81), Southampton on Jan 10, 12 7:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
Its not about having to drive somewhere else its about attracting locals to shop where they live- hire local people- help the economy. Have non Westhampton people come to our town and shop.

The Mayor needs to wake up and not be so difficult. He needs to follow the wishes of the voters and not his own. How about a vote Mayor?

Come on Mayor bring some life back into this town!!!
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jan 10, 12 7:59 AM
2 members liked this comment
Hmm will the line of traffic to get in cross the tracks?
Seriously though, Eastern LI has more houses and population than the roads can handle, and an oversupply of smaller retail properties both within and without the villages, but a marked shortage of decent grocery stores. I was not in favor of the Tuckahoe one but the Glennon site in SHV sounds good if traffic can be dealt with. Same for the Riverhead rd site, will need to deal with traffic/ingress/egress safely which may involve a service ...more
By smacw (240), New York on Jan 10, 12 10:36 AM
It bums me out to see how WHB govt handles commercial zoning. The North Mall fiasco means we get to live with an 80's era strip mall. Lack of grocery competition means we get a shabby, small Waldbaums forever more. The main corner of Montauk Highway and Old Riverhead is essentially the "Welcome" corner to the town and it is a dump w2 OOB places flanking the intersection.

WHB is a decaying town and the local Govt is completely blind to the situation.

By mike9186 (17), Remsenburg on Jan 10, 12 11:55 AM
2 members liked this comment
Westhampton Riverhead Road will be a non-stop disaster; the code in this area is as it should be.Let's figure out how to use the old Chevy dealership before we start building more traffic traps.
By Resident (42), Westhampton Beach on Jan 10, 12 11:55 AM
3 members liked this comment
I totally agree there is a vast amount of vacant commercial real estate in the area and it seems to be getting worse. My big fear is that the lack of govt support is creating a snowball effect where we will see a continual closing of businesses and a shrinking of the customer base. This leads to people wanting to leave the area altogether.

The Chevy Dealership
The high end car dealership/Annona
The old Bob Stevens building
The old Surf Club
The Bowling Alley
The Club ...more
By mike9186 (17), Remsenburg on Jan 10, 12 12:12 PM
2 members liked this comment
In the old days, with Mr. S at the helm, the WHB A+P was the highest grossing unit in the whole system. And that was with the north side of the store devoted entirely to bottle deposit!
By Speonk Shores (31), Remsenburg on Jan 10, 12 1:58 PM
Just because we want a better supermarket doesn't mean we should change zoning for it. Why not put it where the zoning already allows?

The only reason for the zoning change is to line the pockets of Mr. Mendelson.

The best thing WHB could do is to invest in proper sewer infrastructure for Main Street.
By nutbeem (27), Westhampton on Jan 10, 12 7:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Old Riverhead Road is about as industrial an area as exists in WHB. In this case, that area should have been zoned retail, as well as industrial.

I can't imagine anywhere else in town where the presence of a full sized supermarket wouldn't create all kinds of traffic problems.

Are you concerned that the sound a shopping carts banging around will drown out the jet engines and railroad noise?
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Jan 10, 12 9:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
And kill the small businesses from Montauk Hwy and South like they have done to almost every downtown on the South Shore? Thanks, but no thanks. Make Waldbaums update their location and do the improvements that made them close Nationals!
By plplpj (8), westhampton beach on Jan 11, 12 8:29 AM
Hey, Pippi Longstockings - come back to the world of nonfiction. You can't just "make" a private enterprise update and improve. Economics, on the other hand, can. Six Waldbaums on Long Island are closing and A&P is in bankruptcy; what you see is all you're gonna get from them for a long time.

Modern grocery stores need at least 40-50,000 square feet to be successful; you can't find that on Sunset or Main Street. Let this guy build by the station or get the town to let a developer build ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 11, 12 5:28 PM
Having owned a business for over 25 years in our charming village, maybe I have a certain type of survival instinct that cringes when I see what has happened to the towns near where I grew up (Sayville, Patchogue, Oakdale and Bellport) and how thier small businesses shriveled up and died one by one because they could not compete with the big box stores and huge supermarkets along the Sunrise corridor. Businesses like Nationals, the bowling alley and other stores have already been forced out and ...more
By plplpj (8), westhampton beach on Jan 15, 12 1:33 PM
Your owning a business explains it all. You and yours have convinced enough people that protecting a dozen or so provincial shopkeepers is more important than the entirety of the population having the types of stores they need and deserve. The politicians for some unknown reason feel they must grease those noisy wheels and act as dams in the river of progress.

The businesses you claim were forced out (and many others) were victims of their own unprofessional management and mercenary ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 15, 12 11:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
No VOS, what you miss entirely is that our society, as it presently exists, is an abberation AND usury corruption of society contrary to what our Founding Fathers intended.

Look no further than the wholesale abuse of the Fourteenth amendment by corporations as your proof.

The Charter System was laid down for a reason. Look around you, and the current aristocracy should explain itself as to the "why".
Jan 17, 12 11:07 PM appended by Mr. Z
And, just for reference, if people BOYCOTT Waldbaum's, they will either leave, or improve their circumstance. What's the worst that could happen? Mabye Stop n Shop forks over 20 million for the whole kit 'n' caboodle? You people need to learn how to play "their" game...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 17, 12 11:07 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Shock (48), on Jan 11, 12 11:06 AM
He looks like Richard Belzer
By Hambone (514), New York on Jan 12, 12 11:05 PM
I agree with comments from realistic and VOS. We live in the area and rarely ever shop in Westhampton Village because there is little to shop there for. The supermarket is dreadful, most of the storefronts are real estate offices and the quality of most of the other stores leaves alot to be desired. As a result of the insular approach by the town gvt responsible for protecting this rag-tag bunch, we have no reason to go into Westhampton Village (definitely not between Sept and June!). If there ...more
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Jan 17, 12 10:59 PM
Problem is, after fuel surcharges, and this tax, that tax, rents to usury rent charging landlords, well, I hope you get the picture.

You're angry at the wrong people. See my comment to VOS above.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 17, 12 11:16 PM
Angry? Who? I'm happy as a clam in Riverhead buying fresh tomatoes and reasonably priced bakery bread. Get off your soap box with the "14th amendment", "usury corruption" and "you people need to learn, blah, blah". New supermarket? "Build it and people will come (back to Westhampton and spend money in the smaller stores..if they have good products that people want to buy at any other time than on their way to the beach during their vacation...)"! Storeowners who lament the passing of the small ...more
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Jan 18, 12 1:19 AM
Well, if you are so happy, why vie for a new supermarket? I say boycott Waldbaum's if the store is so terrible.

They will either have to pick up and leave, or improve the store. Small businesses need to tailor themselves properly to the environment, if they are to survive.

I think it's pretty simple. Is Hampton Bays really that far to go to Stop 'n' Shop? I even shop at the HB Stop 'n' Shop, especially when they run a special on frozen vegetables. I even go to Riverhead, because ...more
Jan 18, 12 2:36 PM appended by Mr. Z
Well, maybe only when the wind is just right..
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 18, 12 2:36 PM
Mr Z...what part of "I'm as happy as a clam in Riverhead" wasn't clear? I have a l r e a d y boycotted Waldbaums. My stance here is that I hope a new business will come into Westhampton environs to help - as "realistic" stated - to reinvigorate the "foot" traffic in Westhampton and thus help current local businesses. All small business owners in Westhampton should welcome something as basic as a supermarket where people want to shop, coming into the area. They should not be moaning about ...more
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Jan 18, 12 4:33 PM
Well, I wasn't about to assume you chose to boycott it already. I think most of the reason you don't see the nice eateries, is the prohibitive cost of commercial space. If you roll out this way, we have alot of empty retail space available, but the investment is quite unaffordable for a start-up. Most of the types of eateries you describe out this way (cater to the year round), have been there over twenty years. LaParm, Paul's, Barrister's, Driver's Seat, Shippy's, LaPizzaiola, Mt. Fuji, etc. ...more
Jan 18, 12 9:45 PM appended by Mr. Z
Crap, almost forgot. The overhead involved in being open in the "off season" has become prohibitive to many as well. The reduction in customer volume doesn't pay for things like LIPA very well, among other costs.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 18, 12 9:45 PM
Z, you really either don't "get it" or don't want to. Mismanagement by so many of these business owners who want to be protected against viable competition is a prime reason for their ultimate demise. Let's not continue to reward mediocrity, or worse - why do you want to?

WHB's equivalents to your list of Southampton "success stories": Magic's Pub - around forever, owner retired, new owner mismanaged (and that's not all!). The Patio - open, no closed, wait - it's open again...but not ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 19, 12 2:13 PM
You really didn't read my comment, did you?

Bad management. Cause: GREED.

A wise person once opined: Never assume malice, when stupidity will suffice. Admittedly, I haven't been to the Sandwich Club in years. It was a solid place to get some eats once. Have things changed? Do you really think that people will only venture to Montauk Hwy, and then turn around to go home because they got shocked by an invisible fence? If they go to the proposed grocery store, I guess they won't ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 19, 12 7:36 PM