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Apr 30, 2014 10:07 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bridgehampton Group Asks For Moratorium, Prepares For Legal Battle With CVS

Apr 30, 2014 10:39 AM

Hoping to halt plans for a CVS pharmacy occupying one corner of Bridgehampton’s main intersection, the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee last week asked the Southampton Town Board to enact a moratorium on any new development along the street until new traffic and parking studies can be completed.

The most recent traffic study of the hamlet’s main thoroughfares was conducted in 2008, members noted, and “the town has changed mightily since 2008,” CAC co-chair Nancy Walter-Yvertes said.

The committee has voiced strong opposition since word of the CVS having its eye on the northwest corner of the intersection where Montauk Highway, the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Lumber Lane and Ocean Road come together.

Developers received approval for an approximately 9,000-square-foot building to be built on the property, and CVS recently revealed that it has a lease agreement for the building.

The CAC, empaneled by the Town Board to offer suggestions on local policy related to the hamlet, took a rare step in passing a resolution calling on the Town Board to take official action, particularly the request of something so drastic as a building moratorium. But committee members agreed that stopping the giant pharmacy chain from settling on its busiest—and most historic—intersection is a top priority.

“We are drafting a petition that will go online soon, inviting people to join us in opposing development on that corner and, in particular, in opposing CVS going in on that corner,” Ms. Walter-Yvertes said. “We are concerned about the [precedent] of approving a large retail establishment with high-traffic, late-hour stores. We fear it might start a trend going all the way down Main Street.”

Also along those lines, members of the CAC have formed a new group dubbed “Save Bridgehampton Main Street” and have begun rallying other residents around a Facebook page of the same name. Some residents have already begun raising money to hire an attorney to mount a legal challenge of CVS’s plans for the now-vacant corner.

Representatives of the pharmacy giant have said they intend to seek a “special exception” permit from the Town Planning Board to let them utilize all of the nearly 9,000 square feet of space in the building slated for the corner.

Town code officially restricts the size of any one commercial storefront space to 5,000 square feet. But the law allows for exceptions from the limit if the proposal survives extra scrutiny from the Planning Board.

“All special exceptions have to meet what they call the 13 general standards, which some will argue are very broad and some will argue are very narrow,” Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said. “They talk about suitability, appropriateness, proper circulation and so forth. So they afford the Planning Board quite a bit of latitude to evaluate a project in the context of its appropriateness for an area. That being said, we’ve always been schooled that a special exception application, if it meets certain conditions, is to be granted approval.”

Mr. Finnerty noted that the most salient terms in the special exception wording, “suitable and appropriate,” are magnets for litigation and often lead to the Planning Board being sued for arbitrary rulings when appropriateness of an application is invoked in a denial. But he also said that most applicants for special exception permits labor to avoid a denial in the first place and tailor their proposals substantially to meet Planning Board criteria. For that reason, the chairman said, it is rare that the Planning Board denies a special exception application.

In the case of CVS, however, there is likely little tailoring that could be done to the plans for the Bridgehampton corner that would mitigate the objections raised by the residents’ committee, short of withdrawal.

Ms. Walter-Yvertes said that the group of residents raising money have chosen an attorney to represent them in opposition to the CVS, but she declined to name him.

As for the moratorium proposal, town officials said such a rare imposition is not likely to be seen as necessary. Councilwoman Christine Scalera said this week that a moratorium is an “extreme remedy” that the board would be loath to enact without a very substantial reason.

Ms. Scalera did say that the sudden turmoil surrounding the CVS has shed light on a gap in the town’s review of projects that have left the laymen of local CACs in the dark about what the full potential for development proposals actually are.

When the CAC was presented with the plans for the building now targeted by CVS, the schematic showed six small retail and office tenants. The building was designed with an eye to the classical architecture of the historic Bullshead Inn and Nathanial Rogers House on its opposite corners and the CAC gave its stamp of support for the designs.

But, Ms. Scalera said, the committee was not made aware of the potential for the number of tenants in the building being cut to two, under the maximum size limit, or even one if a special exception were granted—nor the ease with which a special exception permit is usually issued.

“In the referral for this site plan they were shown a plan that had six different tenants —then it gets shrunk down to one and it is sort of like ‘Whoa, how did that happen?” Ms. Scalera said. “There’s a shortfall there in the information being shared. When we send out referrals, we need to be more specific about what could ultimately be done with an application—a warning that what is shown might not be the only option.”

Ms. Walter-Yvertes said that among the attendees at the committee meeting was former town planner Jefferson Murphree, whose father-in-law lives on Lumber Lane, near the proposed pharmacy building. Mr. Murphree, who led the town’s Planning Department for a decade and is now Riverhead Town’s chief planner, suggested that the committee ask for the moratorium, she said.

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Ms. Scalera's comment says it all:

" ‘Whoa, how did that happen?” Ms. Scalera said."

No word in this article about the Chief Building Inspector's role in all of this, which the Press recently chastised in a sharply-worded editorial.

Hopefully the application for the Special Exception will be denied, as the location is all wrong for the use.

All wrong.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 30, 14 12:14 PM
"Save Bridgehampton Main Street" so no more businesses can come into the town and more people, especially young, leave. CAC's should not be involved in planning.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Apr 30, 14 2:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
"moratorium" Greek for "We have no clue what we are doing so we better stop everything"
By The Real World (368), southampton on Apr 30, 14 2:35 PM
2 members liked this comment
There is not enough parking for that store. That corner can't handle anymore traffic. CVS is a Seven Eleven with a pharmacy. They are open seven days a week to at least 9 PM. We already have Bridgehampton Commons --that's enough
By Marypat (2), Southampton on Apr 30, 14 6:45 PM
This shouldn't and won't happen:

"The Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee last week asked the Southampton Town Board to enact a moratorium on any new development along the street until new traffic and parking studies can be completed."

A moratorium takes place when something dramatic changes (Like when people were buying up motels and converting them to condos). This is the only vacant piece on that whole strip. No way in the world a moratorium would be justified.

Parking ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Apr 30, 14 8:00 PM
the intersection there is a disaster almost every change of the light and will get much worse inthe coming months. BH cannot have another high profile business on that corner. let's go with the CAC and/or just buy the parcel, albiet will be expensive, but let's us BH residents ban together and stop this nightmare in it's inception. GO BH RESIDENTS!!!!!!!!
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Apr 30, 14 10:07 PM
A park adjoining "The Monument" would be nice...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 30, 14 10:46 PM
nature the TR business has NO parking as evidenced by the Sat AM farmer's marketrs Just go into the parking lot and you will find a vastly small parking lot for the hotel and the employes park across the street inthe starbucks parking lot bordering onto Lumber La. Another case of well laid plans by a rich NYC company that the town approved? I think so. who are these people that can take over our village and not provide parking for employees? Look at the parking on Mtk Hwy west of Butter Lane ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Apr 30, 14 10:22 PM
The CVS is a bad idea, but suggesting that the Town or someone else purchase the property is a fantasy. Who will use open space on that marginal and noisy corner? It needs to have a decent structure with a suitable scale retail/office use ,similar to what was originally proposed, that will reinforce the pedestrian character of our wonderful Main Street. CVS is a high volume auto-oriented use, and is too powerful for that corner. But let's not allow ourselves to be distracted by unrealistic counter ...more
By pcw28 (1), Southampton on May 1, 14 8:20 AM
tenants plural?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 1, 14 12:29 PM
I would like the CVS. If was Whites or Barth's would the CAC still be complaining?
By The Real World (368), southampton on May 2, 14 10:29 AM
Yes if the scale of the operation was the same IMO. I use CVS, but this is the WRONG location for ANY 10,000 sf store with a high traffic flow.

CVS should wake up and withdraw the application, just like Lauerville's application for more staff housing.

By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 2, 14 11:34 AM
"CVS should wake up and withdraw the application, just like Lauerville's application for more staff housing."

CVS is in the business to make a profit. That would be foolish.

I believe that a CVS does NOT generate traffic - rather it absorbs it when located centrally like this. I.E. people will not be getting in their car and driving to CVS and then driving home. They will stop at CVS while they are driving by.

Sure that may snarl traffic, and I think the parking situation ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 2, 14 4:02 PM
Park at the CVS in Southampton for an hour or so, and watch the traffic, then picture all this happening on the small site in BH. Lots of locals who are coming ONLY to this store from what I can see. A quick in and out, and lots of short-term parking. On a Saturday morning, the parking lot is quite crowded near the CVS.

Ditto for the CVS in East Hampton. Remember the young bicyclist who was run over last year? I believe this happened near the CVS there. Did we learn a lesson from her death, ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 2, 14 5:12 PM
My point, PBR, is that the people who frequent a CVS (in bridgehampton in particular) will already be driving by it. No doubt the parking lot will see a lot of in/out traffic. But the roads leading to CVS I don't believe would see additional traffic.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 4, 14 11:01 AM
Yes I understood that. My point was that lots of locals use CVS as their pharmacy of choice, and that this is an independent and vibrant contributor to the traffic at any CVS. If anything, a new BH CVS (with its crowded parking lot) will cause existing CVS pharmacy customers to keep using the SH or EH CVS stores.

In this respect your preconception about the traffic going to CVS seems incorrect, hence my suggestion that you actually sit near the SH store for an hour and observe the actual ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 4, 14 11:24 AM
PS -- You may recall that the SH CVS took over a local pharmacy located between Tinker Bank and the IGA, hence its popularity with locals. CVS later moved into the IGA building and expanded into its present location, retaining its local clients IMO.

In this respect, the BH CVS traffic pattern may be closer to your projections, Nature.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 5, 14 3:40 PM
While you are on the subject, why would anyone care what Lauer does? All jealousy. Same with Lutnick.
By The Real World (368), southampton on May 2, 14 1:02 PM
Jealousy has nothing to do with it. Over-reaching by applicants does have everything to do with it -- stretching the law for the sake of greed, basically, and it is time to "just say no" as appropriate. [generally speaking that is, in my personal opinion -- not a comment about Mr. Lutnick's situation in particular.]
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 2, 14 2:10 PM
Village of Westhampton did a moratorium when CVS tried to occupy the bowling alley. Sag Harbor simply made them go away.
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on May 4, 14 12:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
One must look at the new building in Westhampton that True Value has moved in to just to realize the village doesn't know what it is doing. Built backwards. Looks vacant. Horrible.
By The Real World (368), southampton on May 5, 14 7:30 AM