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Oct 21, 2009 2:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Zoning Board denies plans for North Mall renovation

Oct 21, 2009 2:43 PM

A major renovation of the North Mall will not go forward as proposed, the Westhampton Beach Village Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously decided last Thursday, October 15.

The Winhaven Realty Group, the Great Neck-based company that owns the strip mall on Old Riverhead Road in the village, proposed to add second stories on the two buildings that make up the North Mall, an addition totaling 13,946 square feet that would have been connected by a pedestrian bridge.

The company sought a variance from the village to reduce the number of parking spaces required from 220 to 185. The zoning board denied the application because the 
proposed number of parking spaces may not be sufficient in the future, according to the board’s written decision.

The project was just too big, said Chris Bean, the Zoning Board of Appeals chairman.

“The variance was too much,” he said. “There was inadequate parking. It would have caused congestion.”

The zoning board found other problems with the application, too.

“In addition, the board finds that the proposed variance may have a potential impact on parking, traffic flow and the conditions of the neighborhood, raising environmental concerns as well,” the decision read. “The size of the proposed addition would visually impact on the residential parcels to the east, and the substantially increased amount of parking and its associated activity would also impact on them as well.”

The Winhaven Group can reduce the proposed size of the second floor of the additions, a change that would reduce the number of parking spaces required. The village code states that commercial buildings need one parking space for every 200 square feet, said Paul Houlihan, the Westhampton Beach building and zoning administrator.

“It is a huge building. It would be the biggest commercial building in the village,” he said of the current application. “I’ve never seen the [zoning board] give a variance that large before.”

The Winhaven Group is still weighing its options, including whether it should submit another application for a smaller addition or do nothing, according to Jim Hulme, the Westhampton Beach lawyer representing the group.

The proposed second story renovations to the North Mall and the bridge that would connect the two buildings would increase the strip mall’s square footage to 43,000 square feet. The mall currently sits on 3 acres of property. The proposal also included a face-lift to the exterior, matching the buildings to the rest of Westhampton Beach.

North Mall has not been renovated since its construction at least 18 years ago.

The Winhaven Group first proposed the project about a year ago. The company originally hoped to break ground in February and be done with construction by December 2009.

The original proposal called for more medical offices, but the group was not able to get Suffolk County Department of Health Services approval. The space would be able to host dry retail and office space, according to Mr. Houlihan.

Hallie D. Martin

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If this is permitted by the Westhampton Beach Code, why has the underlying problem not been addressed by the Village Board and the Planning Board? Why is this left to the ZBA?

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Oct 16, 09 2:43 PM
The north mall is so visually appealing now, why change it. I mean between the north mall, the closed gas station and the weeds growing over the corner restaurant, the village gateway is awesome. This village is a joke. I know we don't want overgrowth, but progress is imperative to our community. Instead we bitch about salaries and preach religious intolerance around here. Our village boards from the trustees down are a joke.
By heeeere's johnny (11), westhampton beach on Oct 16, 09 3:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Visual" is not the nusiness of a Zoning Board. Aesthetics cannot as a matter of law have any weight in a ZBA's determinations.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Oct 16, 09 4:48 PM
What's the vacancy rate at the mall? It seems to be at least a third of the space is vacant, maybe more. What's the point in expanding it?
"Here's Johnny" raises a good point - the entry point for most visitors coming in off the Sunrise Highway is an eyesore. I understand the empty restaurant is owned by John Chih - but the structure has building code problems. The gas station is an eyesore - whats up there? Perhaps the County could do an eminent domain claim and widen the intersection so trucks ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Oct 16, 09 4:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
What a joke. It is always the people who cannot put two nickles together who stop progress. Jealous? This is the exact reason this country cannot emerge from the current economic crisis. Third world, welcome a new member.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Oct 16, 09 5:34 PM
You would think in this stagnant economy they would have approved it.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Oct 16, 09 7:04 PM
You and "The Real World" don't have clue about Zoning Appeals Boards, do you, "PrivateerMatt?"

They don't have much discretion as a matter of law. It why I said that this should have been addressed by the legislative body (Board of Trustees) or the planning entity, in this instance the Planning Board or the Village's Planning consultant,
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Oct 16, 09 11:46 PM
...and YOU "don't have a clue" about saying things in a tactful manner. You always try to start fights with all your put-downs & negativity. Why must you always jab jab jab at everyone? Why not just try "educating" them in an informative way without all the anger?
By mjb (14), This Island on Oct 20, 09 4:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Development is not a panacea to a bad economy, it is simply an extension of the bad policies that created the problems we face. If this had been in SH town instead of the village it would have been green-lighted and overbuilt long ago.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Oct 17, 09 11:58 AM
2 members liked this comment
It looks great but they do need to comply to parking spaces. The developer should shorten the footprint to add more parking. I wish the developer luck. This would be so nice for the town.
By sunsetter (7), QUOGUE on Oct 17, 09 12:37 PM
North Mall is a zero architecturally. It looks as it it were designed by a draftsman. The artist's rendering of the renovations looks better, but still not good enough. I assume that the developers no longer care much about the proposed renovation considering economic conditions. However, if they come back to the table with a proposal that meets parking concerns, I hope that the Board requires a LOT more landscaping to hide the storefronts and that sea of asphalt from Old Riverhead Road.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 17, 09 4:43 PM
So now the layer is an architectural critic?
Oct 18, 09 11:59 AM appended by Noah Way
layer, lawyer, what's the difference?
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Oct 18, 09 11:59 AM
The reason the center is basically "Dark" is because the developer would like you to perceive that without change the place will rot. Huge rents without negotiated reductions sent tenants packing.
Next, to what is proposed, the architect has delevered a design much in keeping with the character of the village, simple yet classy (Much unlike Hampton Motor Cars which probably will be a cold dark shell post conviction).
Might i suggest that the Village work with the developer and offer a mix ...more
By bobba (39), southampton on Oct 18, 09 2:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Bridget, Hampton Bays on Oct 19, 09 2:04 PM
There's always Hampster Bays. They did this already, only they "hid" their parking off Montauk Highway.
The North Mall is not as ugly as the intersection at Montauk Highway, with that bank, the deserted Dora's, and the closed gas stations. But it sure ain't purdy!
Is there really that much objection from the street behind Old Riverhead Road about the addition of a second story? It's not like it will obstruct their water view; in fact it may stifle the road noise on weekends... plus, it ...more
By Jean (79), whb on Oct 19, 09 11:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
The developer wants a 14,000 addition as a second floor to his buildings. He is seeking a waiver of 35 parking spaces. The law requires 1 space per 200 square feet which for 35 spaces equals 7,000 Square feet. Therefore the developer wants to build a 14,000 square foot addition without providing any parking for 7,000 SF of it.
How many times has the Village ever allowed a 7,000 SF building to be built without providing any parking? Rite Aide is a 9,000 SF building for comparison.

By Alterius (19), Westhampton Beach on Oct 20, 09 8:42 AM
...the synagogue.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Oct 20, 09 11:25 AM
Point well taken William Rodney, but the synagogue isn't a commercial building and doesn't operate 7 days a week.
By Alterius (19), Westhampton Beach on Oct 20, 09 3:43 PM
... so what?
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Oct 20, 09 7:44 PM
Let me backtrack and say your first point was overstated, as I doubt that the synagogue building, by itself, is 7,000 square feet. And the answer to your "so what?" comment is obvious to anyone who has ever been at a strip mall like the North Mall.
By Alterius (19), Westhampton Beach on Oct 21, 09 12:26 PM
I don' understand your motives, Alterius. Are you saying that there should be no exceptions to parking requirements? Unfortunately, I have visited many a strip mall and don't see what is obvious about my "so what" question. Commercial building or not - open seven days or one - they should provide required parking.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Oct 22, 09 11:26 AM
WR- Absolutely right. I think we may have been "talking" at cross-purposes here. Seems like we are in complete agreement - requirements of the Village code should be met!
By Alterius (19), Westhampton Beach on Oct 22, 09 4:38 PM