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Jul 10, 2012 6:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Developer Will Again Ask Westhampton Beach To Hold Public Hearing On Supermarket Proposal

Jul 18, 2012 1:33 PM

A Westhampton developer said this week that he intends to once again ask the Westhampton Beach Village trustees to host a public hearing regarding his plan to build a new supermarket in the village.

Andrew Mendelson, the owner of two adjacent properties along the west side of Old Riverhead Road in Westhampton Beach currently zoned B-3 business and I-1 industrial, said he plans to go before the Village Board in August to request the hearing to gauge the public’s opinion of his plan. Rather than seek a change of zone for his properties, Mr. Mendelson is asking the village to consider altering its zoning code to permit the building of a supermarket on his land. Currently, supermarkets are only allowed in a limited area surrounding Main Street and Sunset Avenue in Westhampton Beach.

Mr. Mendelson said he plans to attend the Village Board meeting on Thursday, August 2, to again make his plea for a public hearing. He has twice been denied such a hearing by the former village administration to discuss his idea, but he said he remains hopeful that, if allowed, the hearing will convince trustees to add the word “supermarket” to the code under allowable uses for B-3 and I-1 properties. If that happens, he would construct an estimated 40,000-square-foot supermarket on his 4.2 acres, land located just north of a new 39-unit condominium development known as Timber Ridge.

“I have introduced to them the concept of meeting with the public to see their reaction,” Mr. Mendelson said. “The old guard has turned me down twice, but I am now bringing it to the new board with the hopes that they will look at it in a different light.”

He said he hopes the two newest Village Board members, Ralph Urban and Charlie Palmer, will take the first step and approve the hearing, a move that, the developer said, could possibly sway other board members to do the same. “I hope that the election of the new board told everybody that people want change,” Mr. Mendelson said. “I have to meet the new politicians—I haven’t had the chance to meet them yet.”

Mr. Urban said he is open to the idea of allowing a new supermarket, but he still needs to do additional research before he makes a decision. He noted that there are a lot of factors to be considered, and he would like to hear all sides first.

“I have heard that some people are very open to it, and other people are very concerned about increasing the congestion on that road,” Mr. Urban said, referring to Old Riverhead Road. “There are several things that have to be considered.”

Mr. Palmer did not return calls seeking comment this week.

Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Conrad Teller, who has rejected Mr. Mendelson’s earlier pleas to schedule a hearing, warned that changing the village code to accommodate a developer could be considered spot zoning, which is illegal. He added that the suggested change is not as simple as Mr. Mendelson thinks, adding that such an alteration would allow other property owners to build developments that are not currently allowed under the code.

“You can’t do that,” Mr. Teller said, adding that, if asked again, he would vote to deny the public hearing. “If we are changing it for that one property then we would have to change it for every lot in the area.”

The village’s master plan, which was completed five years ago at a cost of $30,000, does not permit supermarkets along Old Riverhead Road—a decision that was made by the Planning Task Force after discussions with residents during a series of public hearings. Currently, there is one supermarket in the village, the Waldbaum’s on Sunset Avenue.

Village Trustee Patricia DiBenedetto said she does not know if the board will entertain Mr. Mendelson’s request, noting the zoning issue with the land. Still, she said she encourages residents who want to comment on the proposal to do so at village meetings.

“We are a government for the people, and if the village residents have an interest then they should come to meetings and be heard,” Ms. DiBenedetto said. “Quite frankly, nobody has come to the meeting except Mr. Mendelson. It has been quiet for a while now, so I wasn’t aware that he was still pursuing the market in that particular spot, because the issue has always been zoning.”

Deputy Mayor Hank Tucker declined to offer his opinion, stating that he wants to wait until the developer requests a hearing before weighing in on the matter.

Mr. Mendelson, who lives about a quarter of a mile from the Westhampton Beach High School, just outside the village, said he knows many people who opt to do their shopping in Riverhead and Hampton Bays to avoid going to the Waldbaum’s. He added that, if permitted, his supermarket would be a branch of a major chain.

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This is ridiculous.
By Summer Resident (251), Manhattan on Jul 14, 12 9:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
Will it ever be enough for these greedy, egomaniacal, piece of ______ developers? This guy and Morrow should go up Island with their plans to turn the east end into a suburban nightmare! I hope the town board simply says NO once again!
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jul 16, 12 2:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
That is incorrect. Let the area catch up to the rest of the villages out here. I would like to shop in Westhampton and not have to go to Hampton Bays and Riverhead all the time. ThisnVillage needs to wake up and get rid of old timers with there Mayberry way of thinking. Sounds like you are one of them.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jul 21, 12 11:56 AM
What the hell is the difference between requesting a change of zone and asking the town to change their zoning! What a joke
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jul 16, 12 2:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Before approving any plan to add a new supermarket in Westhampton, how about
persuading Waldbaum's to upgrade, if not replace, its long out-of-date supermarket on Sunset Avenue?
By Wilhelmus Bryan (4), Quogue on Jul 17, 12 9:57 AM
We do not need a hearing-just play by the existing rules.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jul 18, 12 2:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Trustee DiBenedetto is right. The public should be heard on this issue. There have been complaints for decades about Walbaums (old A&P). Our residents deserve much better that that old crowded store. Yes, I realize that the Village approved a new site plan for Walbaums that would greatly improve the store. Due to fiscal problems the corporation won't make the financial investment. So, years keep passing and the bureaucrats in Village Hall keep repeating the same old mantra that approving a food ...more
By beachgirl11978 (18), Westhampton Beach on Jul 21, 12 10:17 AM
1 member liked this comment