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Town Lifts CR-39 Building Ban In Favor Of Sparking Economy

Originally Posted: March 26, 2009

Andrea Aurichio

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Councilman Chris Nuzzi and Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst study resolutions at the start of the meeting which focused on the lifting of the building moratorium on County Road 39. Photos by Andrea Aurichio

Southampton - A one-year moratorium halting development on County Road 39 (CR-39) in Southampton will come to an end three-and-a-half months early as the Southampton Town Board has determined applications now on hold before town agencies can begin to move through a review process, lifting a log jam now pending which is starting to drain potential boosts to the local economy.

Supervisor Linda Kabot articulated the town's position as she
voted to rescind the moratorium but continue the on-going
planning study being undertaken by outside consultants.
A citizen's task force will also be involved in the review
process now that the moratorium has ended.

"The moratorium was enacted in a different economic climate," Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said as the Town Board voted four to one in favor of an early sunset now set for March 30 instead of the July 22 deadline. The vote was called immediately after the close of a public hearing held at the board's Tuesday evening session on March 24. The lifting of the ban comes at the start of the spring building season - a time when many contractors who have slowed down during the winter months begin to gear up for another season as the warm weather allows the wheels of construction to move forward.

Councilwoman Nancy Graboski drives to from Bridgehampton to Southampton twice a day in morning and evening rush hour traffic. "This year there is no trade parade," Graboski said, referring to the lack of contractors traveling along CR-39 to jobs in Town. "We have to get these people back to work."

The lifting of the ban will enable applications now on hold before the town's planning department to move ahead with the proviso that the CR-39 Committee, a study group comprised of volunteers, will be involved in the review and planning process. The town plans to continue with the CR-39 Corridor Study now being conducted by planning consultants who are researching a comprehensive plan for the future growth and development along the corridor surrounding CR-39 from the Tuckahoe-Shinnecock Hills area to a portion of Water Mill where the road feeds onto Montauk Highway. Historically CR-39 has been the town's most heavily trafficked and highly developed roadway and, to date, dozens of businesses rely on its continued longevity and access.

Councilwoman Nancy Graboski pointed to the need to create
work for local contractors as a major consideration for lifting
the ban on March 30 so town agencies could begin
to process projects that are now stalled at the preliminary
review process.

"We want to get things moving again," Supervisor Kabot said, "but we also want to make sure that we continue to develop a long-term plan for this corridor." Kabot noted there were hundreds of applications pending before the town's regulatory agencies that could not be processed while the moratorium was in place. The dissenting vote was cast by Democratic Councilwoman Sally Pope. "This board is acting in such haste," Pope said, stressing the need for further study concerning the future of CR-39.

"Every day counts in this economy," Ann LaWall, executive director of the Southampton Business Alliance commented, pushing for the early sunset date. LaWall is also a member of the CR-39 study group. "Lifting this ban will not negate the study - it will let applicants begin to go through the planning process."

LaWall noted that most of the large projects being proposed for CR-39, as well as at other locations in Southampton town, were on hold because of prevailing economic conditions. Talks advanced by Southampton Hospital to relocate to a large parcel of land surrounding the Elks Hall on CR-39 are on hold, as are immediate plans by the Parrish Art Museum to relocate to Water Mill, although fundraising for that effort is underway. Builders and developers noted the need to move forward with the approval process in uncertain times where it is increasingly difficult to secure financing for projects until they begin to take shape.

For and Against: Ed Glacken, an executive in King Kullen's real estate division and a principal in a project slated for CR-39 spoke in favor of the early sunset, while John Zacarelli, Chairman of the Hampton Bays Citizen Advisory Committee opposed lifting the moratorium along with Mary Jean Green, President of the Hampton Bays Civic Association

A proposal to build a King Kullen Supermarket on a 13-acre parcel near Magee Street and CR-39 will be able to move forward now that the ban has been lifted. Ed Glacken, an executive at King Kullen and a principal in the mixed used project that will combine the large grocery store with smaller shops and housing units, went on the record noting that the lifting of the ban was a step in the right direction in a process that could take months to complete. "We do not have a shovel ready project here," Glacken said, noting construction would not begin for "at least a year or more." Glacken's project seeks to create affordable housing units on the site along with additional housing that will provide residents with a community where they can walk to stores and go food shopping without having to fight traffic.

Councilwoman Sally Pope cast the sole
dissenting vote noting the board was
moving with great haste in lifting the
moratorium three and half months before
its original expiration date.

Still Others Question The Sense Of It
The town board's action left many civic activists shaking their heads. Turning out in force to speak at the public hearing that lasted for nearly two hours, many wondered if three-and-half months would make any difference, all said and done, as they compared the situation to an effort to slow growth in Hampton Bays where a moratorium is still in place.

"This sends shivers up and down my spine," Mary Jean Green of the Hampton Bays Civic Association offered. "Will you vote to rescind the moratorium in Hampton Bays too?"

"It took two years to enact this moratorium," Frank Zappone of the Tuckahoe-Shinnecock Hills CAC said. "If it doesn't matter, why did you do it?"

"This makes me lose respect for my town board," Bonnie Gilbert, a Shinnecock Hills resident chimed in. "You stood so vehemently in favor of this moratorium and now you are changing your position. I don't believe anybody on this board."

The last word was had by Hampton Bays resident Vicki Hillis. "I have said this here before and I will say it again. Uncontrolled growth is the philosophy of a cancer cell."

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Guest (Lovetheland) from Southampton says::
Just another step towards turning what people come here for into what they left.Build and invest in the small town/quaint village feel boost their role in the economy of the east end leave the bigger supermarkets and strip malls to the west end.
Mar 28, 2009 9:54 am

Guest (Jetty 4 Rules) from Westhampton says::
Hey Nancy, There's no trade parade because winter is just ending, and we are in the midst of a recession, not because of a building moratorium. There's never traffic problems from December-March. CR 39 is a traffic nightmare, and more buildings will make it even worse. Let's fill up the vacant store fronts in local villages before encouraging more building.
Mar 27, 2009 9:25 am


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