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Nov 13, 2014 11:28 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Will Tap CPF To Buy Hampton Bays Motel

Nov 19, 2014 10:04 AM

A waterfront motel in Hampton Bays, which recently served as a homeless shelter and is now being used as apartments, will soon transition into its next phase: a vacant lot.

The Southampton Town Board last week approved the purchase of the 2.2-acre property overlooking Tiana Bay for $2.3 million, and will finance the acquisition with proceeds from the municipality’s Community Preservation Fund. The town will tap additional CPF money to eventually raze the two-story motel, remove the driveway, parking lot and buried cesspools from the property, and possibly plant vegetation to help return the land to its natural state.

To do so, however, the town will be displacing the roughly two dozen people who have been renting rooms in the building for the past several months.

“Thanks for making us all homeless, we appreciate your hospitality,” one resident of the motel, who identified himself only as John, said referring to the Southampton Town Board. “You can all go rot in hell.”

It is unclear how long it will take before the purchase is finalized, or when the former motel will be cleared out. Neither the residents nor the live-in manager were formally notified of the pending purchase, which was approved last Wednesday, November 12, by the Town Board. It is unclear if a closing date has been set.

Mary Wilson, manager of the town’s CPF, and Brian Phelps, whose company, Phelps & Associates, manages the property, both did not return multiple calls seeking comment this week.

Hampton Bays residents and community organizations—most notably the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays—have challenged the town to do something with the property, which was used by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services as a homeless shelter as recently as last year.

Neighbors have aired various complaints about the property, ranging from drug deals allegedly being carried out on the premises to increased litter in the area. Some were frustrated by the amount of foot traffic on the winding, sidewalk-less West Tiana Road when the motel was being used as a homeless shelter.

But there have been fewer of those complaints since the building reopened as a motel/apartment complex this past spring. Rob Despres, who lives across the street from Hidden Cove, said this week there have been no issues with the residents there dating back to before the beginning of summer.

“The way the motel has been since the summer is a lot better,” Mr. Despres said. “Everybody has been really nice and there haven’t been any issues.”

Southampton Town Police Lieutenant James Kiernan said Tuesday that officers have responded to fewer complaints in the area since the homeless shelter was shut down by Suffolk County. He added that, over the past few months, the department has been sending fewer patrol cars to the area.

“I would say that’s just based on complaints, when people request extra patrols, we provide them,” he said. “We haven’t gotten those requests in the past year.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the lot was not targeted by the town because of the community complaints. Rather, she pointed out that the property, which is still owned LAML Realty Corp., is part of a string of wetland properties along Tiana Bay that the town has been acquiring, piece by piece, for preservation purposes in recent years.

“It’s important to note that we don’t use CPF funds to buy up nuisance businesses or properties or whatever,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “We use CPF funds to buy properties that we believe add to community character and preservation goals of the town.

“In this case,” she continued, “that was the reason we agreed to buy this property and put it on our target list, because of the very sensitive wetland area that it is.”

Some are skeptical of the supervisor’s claim, however. John, who has lived in the motel since June, feels the town is using the guise of environmental conservation as an excuse to boot people from their homes and eliminate the motel to boost property values in the neighborhood. In the past, many residents have complained that the owner of the motel has been illegally renting the motel’s 33 rooms as affordable apartments, violating the town code.

“There’s never been anything here, no police or anything like that,” John said. “Just people trying to survive.”

One woman, who declined to share her name, said Tuesday that she’s been living in the motel for close to three months, returning to live there after a six-year hiatus because her home was foreclosed upon. The woman, who said she pays $300 a week to rent one of the rooms, said the lack of affordable housing is what has driven her and most of her neighbors to the Hidden Cove Motel for extended stays. She also thinks the property was targeted by the town to eliminate what has become low-income housing.

“It’s just an excuse,” she said. “How much wetlands do you really need?”

During last week’s meeting Ms. Wilson said the town has not decided if it will allow the property to naturally revegetate or if it will plant vegetation once the building is demolished. She added that the property will be monitored by her office and a park ranger who is already responsible for safeguarding other properties in the area.

Ms. Wilson said the town is waiting on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to instruct it on how best to deal with the septic system and sign off on demolition.

Hampton Bays resident Gail Liner—who has a house on West Tiana Road and, along with her husband Robert, is one of the founding members of the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays—spoke during last week’s hearing on the acquisition. She said she would have preferred that the land be rezoned to permit the construction of a new house.

“I have been opposed to using CPF funds for this purpose,” she said. “I’m happy that Hidden Cove will be gone once and for all [but] I feel that the properties that were purchased on West Tiana Road could have been better used … as a single-family home, adding to the value of our community … increasing the tax values as opposed to letting it go to its natural state.”

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Another great use of CPF. Not only does it rid the community of an unwanted use (with the potential for continued abuse and/or conversion to condos) but it adds protection for residents and surrounding properties as the restored parcel will be able to better handle the impacts from large coastal storms. Additionally it will provide a natural area for local residents to enjoy. This is a win all the way around
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Nov 13, 14 3:03 PM
2 members liked this comment
Another misinformed, moronic statement by self-serving Anna Throne Holst. By law the CPF can also be used to purchase "problem sites". While I am happy for the beleagured Hampton Bays citizens and commend the Concerned Citizens, for the years they put into this project, I would like to know how much money has poured into the CPF from sales in the Village of Southampton . I think this Superviosr is too giddy and too rapacious to be entrusted with funds of any kind.
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Nov 13, 14 5:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
PS: ;Note how T-Holst is quick to assure that she and her board "don't buy up nuisance properties or whatever..." The Town doesn't do anything else about nuisance problems either. Enforcement is selective and sporadic, but more important they let these sights fester so they become prime meat for developers
to come and "improve" while increasing density and their profits to heights they
only dreamt of. This real-estate broke/Supervisor is deep into that.
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Nov 13, 14 5:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Once again, the Town plans to take away Resort Waterfront Business property and close down a tax paying operation in contravention of the master plan. Admittedly, this has been a problem site but the only action necessary is to require the owners to operate as a short term facility for tourists as required by the town code rather than long term housing for the homeless.

If the Town has given up on the concept of utilizing Resort Waterfront Business property as an attraction for tourist ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 13, 14 6:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
While I understand your point, CPF purchases include a willing seller and the property must meet strict criteria.

The Town cannot, does not, and has not ever forcibly taken a property for CPF unless the owner willingly sold it to the Town.

Furthermore, while your statement of "require the owners to operate as a short term facility for tourists" is ideal on paper, the owners of a private business have a lot of freedoms. If they choose to rent the units out to people who may not ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Nov 14, 14 9:34 AM
Once again you bring the "willing seller" into the argument when that is totally irrelevant to the question of maintaining RWB uses in that zone.

The hotel/motel law addresses the tourist question by limiting the number of consecutive days the unit may be occupied by the same party - it should be enforced. Fulltime, extended stays are NOT consistent with RWB usage and should not be tolerated. I will certainly agree that the current usage is improper but your "any means to an end" approach ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 14, 14 1:03 PM
Anna T-Holst how about stepping forward and leaving the 400+ acres in East Quogue in its natural state? Only a handful of EQ residents are OK with
having a development which contains a golf course...............the handful are real estate agents and business owners who stand to personally gain from this project. Preserving this property is a must to protect the groundwater for all! Say "NO" to "The Hills."
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Nov 14, 14 7:55 AM
How about understanding that CPF needs willing sellers and the price has to be within a range of independent appraisals that the Town obtains?

How about understanding that the 400 acre figure is complete BS because much of it is in the Core of the Pine Barrens, and the remaining part is in the CGA meaning the actual area which can be developed is about 80 acres.
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Nov 14, 14 9:35 AM
1 member liked this comment
The owners might have become "willing sellers" if the STB did not grant "The Hills" the right to move forward with their original proposal. 5 acre zoning and no golf course was approved prior to the Arizona based Discovery taking over control of this property. Do not allow the developers to circumvent existing zoning for this property, period! If the SHTB allows a zoning change in EQ for real estate development they can do it in anywhere else in Southampton. Residents fought hard to get the 5 acre ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Nov 17, 14 7:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
They should do away with the CPF and save taxpayers (yes I know, but it is still a tax). They waste money and bail people out with it. How about enforce the laws and make it easier to enhance ones property instead of going through the ridiculous process with the town planning department. Whats next? buy the CPI, Tide Runners?
By The Real World (368), southampton on Nov 14, 14 3:31 PM
I wish they could do the same with the property on Penny Lane that has been the location for a few criminal arrests since the absentee Manhattan landlord put in electric heaters and started renting these substandard tiny cottages year round! This property is on Penny Pond. We could use more open land in that area too!
By sirpoochala (78), Hampton Bays on Nov 14, 14 5:55 PM
Anna Thorne Holst doesn't care about Hampton Bays never has and never will! I find her disgusting on her attitude toward our hamlet. She honestly could care less she turns a blind eye to the over crowding of all the illegal immigrants that are destroying this town she is the WORSt!
By Mmvk74@aol.com (1), Hampton Bays on Nov 15, 14 8:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hampton Bays will soon be like Huntington Station, a dumping ground. Have you ever seen so much crime and DWIs and hit and runs ? Concerned Citizens are trying their best but need the help of the people and store owners also.
By LongIslander (43), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 16, 14 1:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's time to clean up Hampton Bays and get rid of eight nail salons . We need shops for other things.
By LongIslander (43), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 16, 14 1:38 PM
Feel free to open whatever type of store you desire. If you meet a need at an affordable price, you will be successful. There is no need to shut down existing businesses because they offend your sensibilities.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 18, 14 3:51 PM
2 members liked this comment