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Jul 2, 2008 9:41 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays moratorium likely to be widened

Jul 2, 2008 9:41 AM

Hampton Bays residents who want an expansion of the area covered by the town’s 12-month moratorium on new subdivisions, site plans, zoning variances or special exception permits might get their wish.

Meeting with the Hampton Bays Civic Association on Tuesday night at the town’s annex in Hampton Bays, Town Supervisor Linda Kabot—along with Town Board members Anna Throne-Holst, Chris Nuzzi, and Dan Russo—disclosed that the Town Board was weighing the idea and could schedule a hearing on an expanded proposal for as early as August 12.

“We wanted to come to you,” Ms. Kabot said. “Oftentimes I hear that it’s hard for people to come to Town Hall.”

Since the board held a public scoping session on June 20 to discuss the moratorium, Ms. Kabot said the board members have been trying to determine what boundary expansions could be legally justified.

“I want you to think how we have to think,” Ms. Kabot said. “You have to think about the community’s goals overall. You have to be judicious when you enact a moratorium, because you are suspending property rights.”

Ms. Kabot said the board was considering widening the moratorium area farther north of Sunrise Highway, farther west to the West Tiana area, and south of Montauk Highway to include the properties across from Wild By Nature supermarket.

In the Ponquogue Bridge area, zoned for resort waterfront business, the expansion would take in all the properties except for barrier beach, she said. “That is already built out,” Ms. Kabot explained. “It makes no sense to include it.”

Activities likely to be excluded from a wider moratorium, she said, would be minor additions of less than 1,000 square feet, or perhaps additions measuring 10 percent or less of the square foot of the structure being expanded.

“The idea behind the moratorium is to catch the big developments,” Ms. Kabot said, “not to hurt the little guy.”

Variances applications for single-family homes, and residential subdivisions with a yield of three lots or less, will likely be exempt as well from a widened moratorium, she said, as would any site plan or application for public safety projects, such as the construction of a firehouse or substation.

An environmental study is being conducted during the moratorium and it takes in the entire hamlet. But the coverage area for the moratorium, as adopted by the board on June 10, is confined to the Montauk Highway commercial corridor—from Jones Road in the east to Peconic Road in the west, focusing on three sections.

The western area, from Jones Road to Route 24, includes properties zoned for Highway Business. Town planners have indicated this area to be one of significant development potential.

The central area, the hamlet center of Hampton Bays, extends along Montauk Highway from Route 24 to the intersection of Ponquogue Avenue and Squiretown Road. Within this area are several historic structures that could face demolition if legislation is not enacted to protect them.

The eastern area of the moratorium runs from the Ponquogue Avenue, Squiretown Road boundary across the Shinnecock Canal to the border of Hampton Bays. Within this sector is a mix of commercial development, retail businesses, and service industries. The historic Canoe Place Inn at the Shinnecock Canal could be torn down if a pending change of zone application is approved.

One of the issues brought up at Tuesday’s Civics meeting was whether or not the area covered by a broader moratorium should include applications already completed. Ms. Kabot asked for a show of hands to see if plans to convert Allen’s Acres Resort Motel into 24 1,200-square-foot condominium units should be included in an expanded moratorium.

The informal vote was inconclusive, with about 50 percent voting yes. The dilapidated motel was purchased 16 years ago by Michael Ullian, a Miami-based realtor. Mr. Ullian’s application to tear down the motel and construct the 24-unit complex has been reviewed and he is 62 days away from receiving his permits, according to Ms. Kabot.

“He’s spent $10 million so far and has 1,000 signatures in support of his project,” Ms. Kabot said. “Is it fair to make him wait another year or force him to seek an exception from the town?”

John Zuccarelli, a Civic Association member who also sits on the town’s Architectural Review Board, and Susan von Freddi, an association member and a real estate broker, spoke in defense of the Allen’s Acre project, arguing that it should be exempt from any moratorium. Both said that not all development negatively affects the community. “It’s also about justice,” Mr. Zuccarelli said. “He filed his application legally. He followed the process.”

Ms. von Freddi argued “65 motel units are there now,” adding she would rather see families living there than transients.

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