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Board Considers Another Moratorium, This Time For CR 39 Corridor

Originally Posted: June 19, 2008

Andrea Aurichio

Heavy traffic on the road lined with stores, businesses, strip malls, office complexes and shopping centers and residential communities poses safety problems for motorists and pedestrians alike despite traffic lights and stop signs that have not alleviated the problem. Photos by Mariah Quinn

Southampton - The steady push by developers to construct condominium complexes, shopping centers and mini-malls in the neighborhoods of Southampton town has intensified, spawning a call for action by town representatives to move quickly to enact moratoriums in those areas most threatened by large scale development.

The latest in the series of moratoriums now underway is the planned halt to development that town officials, at the urging of community leaders, are in the process of enacting along County Road 39 in the Tuckahoe, Shinnecock Hills, North Sea and Water Mill hamlets of the township.

A planned ban on building outlined in the CR 39 Corridor Study will be the subject of a public hearing to be held at the Southampton Town Hall on July 8 at 1 p.m.

The proposed moratorium would suspend the acceptance, processing and approval of applications before the Town's Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Conservation Board. All projects before the Town Board would be halted as well.

Land for sale on CR 39 will attract the attention of developers and investors looking
for business opportunity in the ever burgeoning South Fork region.

The passage of a moratorium that essentially invokes the town's "police power" over zoning laws by calling a temporary halt to planned construction projects is intended to provide the town time to catch its breath and re-examine its local codes with an eye on long-term growth. The intention is to plan development in these areas in as logical and orderly a process as possible.

"We can't just pass a moratorium," Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot has said repeatedly at numerous board meetings as the public clamored for a building ban, "we have to be able to defend this action legally. It has to be justified."

The intensity and ambitious scope of the development pushing westward into Southampton is apparent at town board meetings and work sessions as more and more time is devoted to presentations made by developers proposing large scale housing developments, shopping centers, and hybrid projects comprised of affordable housing units tagged on to shopping centers that would be built along CR 39 and elsewhere in town.

The King Kullen Supermarket chain has plans to build a superstore in the Tuckahoe Hills area within the next few years. The Long Island supermarket chain filed plans with the town earlier this year. The project is now under the watchful eye of the Tuckahoe Civic Association and other civic groups calling for the CR 39 Corridor Study and subsequent moratorium.

County Road 39 is frequently clogged with bumper to bumper traffic during rush hours
in the morning and evening while off peak traffic speeds along the once rural road
now lined with strip malls and shopping centers.

While developers appear before the board, tacking aerial photographs, artists renderings and site plans on the walls in the meeting room to illustrate the scope of their projects and convince the board of the need to move forward, local residents take to the podium at every opportunity to demand all building be stopped, preferably forever. Residents from one end of town to the other bemoan the loss of farmland and open space as they register complaints about traffic, helicopter noise, the unsightliness of cell phone towers and the ever present parking problems. The adverse environmental impact of development is also addressed frequently even as the town moves forward to purchase and preserve as much open space as possible.

The Town Board voted 3 to 2 earlier this month to enact a year-long moratorium in Hampton Bays that included the hamlet center and surrounding areas. The moratorium was passed after several public hearings were held. The civic leaders, residents and activists who attended these hearings to address the board made their concerns clear, indicating the area was rapidly approaching build out and the time to turn the tide was now by moving quickly to halt further development.

Many residents contend the one-year moratorium should have included an even larger area than that set forth by the town which spans Montauk Highway from Jones Road in the west to Peconic Road in the east.

"If you don't do something now," Mary Jean Green, of the Hampton Bays Civic Association said, "it will be too late. In five years, it will be over."

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