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Southampton Town Candidates Sound Off: Canoe Place Inn Proposal

Find out which candidates support the project and which don't.

Southampton Town Candidates Sound Off: Canoe Place Inn Proposal
A proposal to bring 40 town houses to the canal property in Hampton Bays is one of the most highly debated development projects in Hampton Bays with residents on both sides of the fence — some adamantly against it while others can't wait to see it built.

While the project is currently limbo with developers requesting an adjournment last month, not only community members continue to debate the issues surrounding the proposal, but so do the candidates in Tuesday's Southampton Town Board elections.   

Recently, Patch asked Southampton supervisor candidates, Anna-Throne Holst and Linda Kabot, as well as town board candidates, Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Sanley Glinka and Jeffrey Mansfield, their thoughts on the proposal. The following is a round-up of what they had to say. 

Supervisor Candidate Responses: 

Throne-Holst: We are in the public hearing phase of the project. We are listening to the community input through public hearings. The developer has asked for an extensions to go back and consider the many comments that have been submitted and heard and we look forward to see what comes next. That said, there are several issues I’m hoping and optimistic that they will address, including the location of the septic system and better canal access.

Kabot: 
There is a great opportunity with the Rechlers investing in Hampton Bays by acquiring these properties and seeking government approvals to develop a beautifully revitalized Shinnecock Canal area.  The key is, however, that any PDD approval at this important location needs to respect the town’s maritime heritage and not overly privatize and urbanize the east side of the canal, which is presently zoned Resort Waterfront Business.

At this juncture, most people that I have spoken with over the past several weeks have suggested that the project design be reversed such the townhomes be constructed on the west side of the canal where the Canoe Place Inn currently stands, while a brand new catering facility and waterfront restaurant should be built on the east side of the canal, for public access and enjoyment and views of the historic locks.  This proposal would be more in keeping with our Town’s Comprehensive Plan community planning goals for economic development and revitalization and retains the resort waterfront business land use on the east side of the canal, while allowing for residential development on the west side of the canal as part of the Planned Development District (PDD) approval process.  As part of the requisite community benefits, the eastern property on the east side of North Shore Road would be preserved under this scenario and the new catering facility could emulate the historic Canoe Place Inn architecture and include a museum-like area within that celebrates the rich maritime heritage of Hampton Bays.  

As another reasonable alternative to be vetted in the ongoing review process for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, many community members have told me that they would prefer that an alternative proposal for this east side of the canal area be considered such as retaining the waterfront restaurant use while allowing for 20 townhouse units, in the event the Town Board finds that historic preservation of the Canoe Place Inn on the west side of the canal should proceed as a key benefit of this PDD.

Finally, some community members have also suggested that distributing various townhomes units amongst the three properties could also be considered, in the event that the Town Board finds that historic preservation of the Canoe Place Inn should proceed as a key benefit of this PDD and will be allowing construction of townhomes as the trade-off.   For example, some townhome units to be located on the Canoe Place Inn site, some townhomes on the eastern property, and some on the east side of canal, but also seeking to retain a waterfront restaurant use on the east side of the canal as part of the PDD zoning.

In all of these scenarios, most community members indicated to me that it is preferred that wastewater treatment occur on the same site as the waste is generated rather than as originally proposed for the eastern property located on the east side of North Shore Road to service the needs of the townhomes proposed for the east side of the canal.  

As per the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process and the memoranda on file from the Town’s own planning staff concerning potential redesign of project components, alternatives to the proposed project must be considered and fully vetted.

Government needs to be responsive to concerns raised by community members and the SEQRA process requires open discussion, review of reasonable alternatives, and detailing mitigation measures.  All comments should be welcome and the Town Board, the developer, and the consultants involved should respond accordingly.  In turn, the Town Board’s Findings Statement and conditions spelled out in the Local Law to rezone the property will help us all to achieve the best possible redevelopment, environmental and economic benefits for the historic Shinnecock Canal area.

Town Board Candidate Responses: 

Bender: 
I cannot support the project in it current state. I have attended all the public hearings on this issue and the people have spoke. Any project will need to address the many issues brought forward by the public to proceed forward such as density, wastewater, and noise Access to the waterfront, protecting our maritime heritage, the impact to the environment and a suitable public benefit.

Glinka: This represents an opportunity for the hamlet  to be given the opportunity to expand economically.  

Zappone: I believe, and I think that the majority of the Hampton Bays community agrees, that the CPI building is emblematic of the community and would be an asset if it become functional one again as an event facility especially if is mirrors the architectural features of the original building. The entire project can be transformational for the HamptonBays community. However, the eastern portion of the project would benefit from readdressing several considerations: increase public access to the water front, some opportunity for a public waterfront/water view dining, a decrease in density and scale among the housing units and modifications of the waste water treatment location. The developer has demonstrated a willingness to address the questions raised by the community and the Town Board and recently has asked for the hearing to be postponed until December. I see this a positivity sign and look forward to the developers proposal at the next public hearing. 

Mansfield: As the CPI proposal currently stands, the residents of HB are not behind it because of density, public access to the water, waste treatment, lack of a water side dining facility and noise concerns. I also believe that the running of the old CPI as a business is not a strong enough community benefit. HB is our most dense hamlet because of over development, small lot size, and flawed zoning. Therefore, I would love to see a legitimate open space preservation piece to this puzzle. Due to the fact that the developer has shown a willingness to be flexible in the pass, I am hopeful a solution can be reached that works for the developer, but first and foremost for the residents of HB.

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