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Dec 2, 2014 11:25 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Cantwell Doesn't Want Another HomeGoods Debacle In East Hampton

Dec 2, 2014 2:47 PM

Now that its hulking shell is complete, the new HomeGoods store in Wainscott is drawing fire from residents and public officials—including East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

Complaints have centered on the building’s size and proximity to Montauk Highway, with some saying that the structure has changed the look of the gateway into East Hampton. Others—including the supervisor—are asking how the town ever granted permission for the structure to be built.

“It is the worst site plan I have ever seen, in 40 years,” Mr. Cantwell said on Monday. “The building is clearly too close to the road and should have been set back, and the scale of the building should have been smaller.”

Mr. Cantwell said that although the building got approval from the town’s Planning Board two years ago and is being built legally, according to zoning regulations on that property, he has asked the Planning Department and the town attorney’s office to come up with a new law that would require buildings to have larger setbacks from the street, at least along the Wainscott stretch, so that “something like this never happens again.”

In 2010, Wainscott Retail LLC of Garden City, whose partners included architect Peter Cook of Water Mill and the late developer Gregg Saunders of Sagaponack, purchased the 2-acre property, just west of La Capannina pizzeria, for $3.8 million. In April of this year, construction began on the 15,000-square-foot shingled HomeGoods store after crews tore town the old Plitt Ford building, which had been sitting vacant for several years.

According to Rick DelMastro, the chairman of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, “numerous” people voiced their displeasure with the size and proximity of the HomeGoods over the course of a few months during the application’s review.

In April, Mr. Cook presented the plans to the Wainscott CAC—but by that time the site plan had already been approved by the Planning Board, so the CAC could not offer any input, according to Mr. DelMastro. He said that typically such projects are brought to the CAC before they get town approval, but that didn’t happen this time.

“How this happened, I don’t know,” he said. “If we had been able to have had input prior, there may have been a recommendation of the committee. It doesn’t mean it’d be adopted but at least considered.”

Mr. Cook on Monday said he and Wainscott Retail LLC. went through a four-and-a-half-year process to get to this point, during which time there were several public hearings that yielded no complaints.

He added that if there was a lapse in communication between the CAC and the planners, it wasn’t Wainscott Retail’s fault, because applicants are not required to make presentations to local CACs. He said the Wainscott representative on the Planning Board should have communicated with the CAC before the plans were approved.

“There was nothing done subversively, but open, legal and proper,” Mr. Cook said, adding that the building is 2,500 square feet smaller than zoning would have allowed there, and the 98 parking spaces had to be in the back of the building because the town would not allow parking in front of the building. “Had they allowed 20 spaces forward of the building, it could have been pushed farther back,” he said of the building.

Mr. Cantwell said the Planning Board should have taken into consideration the development pattern on the north side of Montauk Highway in Wainscott, where most buildings have much larger setbacks. “That pattern should have been followed,” he said. “The Planning Board, in my opinion, should have put its foot down and insisted that be the case.” He said the zoning district, which is central business, permits minimal setbacks, which legally allowed the shorter setback for HomeGoods.

Mr. Cook argued that by requiring a larger setback in Wainscott, it would devalue the property in the commercial zone. He said that stretch is Wainscott’s main street, and if buildings were built where they are allowed, the street would have a similar feeling to Bridgehampton or Water Mill, where buildings line the sidewalk.

“Wainscott is a hodgepodge of roof lines, architectural styles and buildings that were built ad hoc,” Mr. Cook said.

Mr. Cantwell said, however, that had the building been required to be set back farther, the scale of the building would have been reduced as well. “But they got their approvals and the building is built,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re stuck with it.”

Mr. Cook said it is unfair to judge the building before it is complete and the landscaping and sidewalk are put in. “People seem to forget what was there,” he said. “They forget, what was there was an eyesore. Anything new is generally looked at with disfavor. The King Kullen in Bridgehampton was a blight, but now I don’t think people can live without it.”

Mr. Cook said the exterior of the HomeGoods, which sells kitchen and bathroom supplies, furniture, bedding and décor, should be finished by the beginning of January and will likely open for business in the spring.

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This all sound too similar to the outcry over the poles that went up in East Hampton and the Amagansett substation debacle. These projects are approved and when they are 75% completed everyone starts screaming. Obviously there is a problem with the process of approval. I could care less about either project but there seems to be a trend.
By springsmom (29), East Hampton on Dec 2, 14 1:28 PM
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Dec 2, 14 1:34 PM
The elitist hard at work giving their opinion on a building. Most people in this world are trying to get more than one meal while these idiots can't mind their own business.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Dec 2, 14 2:10 PM
This is hysterical. Makes it clear how out of the loop he is
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Dec 2, 14 2:17 PM
They've pretty much exploited this place to it's limits as it stands. The only thing left is to build out whatever farmland they can lay their grubby hands on. And as far as not informing the CAC, so much for common courtesy.

Just the "golden rule" in play again. Not to be confused with "The Golden Rule"...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 2, 14 3:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
The proximity to the road is the real tragedy. Town Planners (Southampton too) have been on this "kick" that they do not want the parking lots in front of the buildings. If this building was set way back of the property with the parking lot in front of it, no one would care. Look at what they did (Westhampton Village) with the True Value there. It is horrible. They really do not now what they are doing. Nothing wrong with the building size, just where it is on the property.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Dec 2, 14 3:33 PM
Why is the WHB True Value "Horrible"? Let's look at "what was": the lot that was developed was a crappy photo hut and the Old True Value was the worst bldg in Westhampton! Didn't anyone see the irony that the Hardware store was in something that Habitat for Humanities wanted to spruce up? As it stands now I think they did a wonderful job ensuring good traffic flow in and off of Montauk Highway (that did NOT exist in the old TV location). I would concede the building is not the most architecturally ...more
By Hambone (514), New York on Dec 6, 14 12:51 PM
Maybe they can squeeze in a couple of used car lots, another Sleepy's and some other western Suffolk garbage. Talk about turning beautiful East Hampton into a copy of the despoiled landscape found to the west. Yet how many losers will flock to the store once it opens.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Dec 2, 14 3:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
They are fortunate that the building is cedar shake and at least from a design point is nice. The location at the roadside is absurd and all the blame falls on the Town Planning dept., steering the Planning Board. And the irony is the people who are crying a river over this are the same ones defending every other wrong-headed "preservation" move the Planning dept staff make.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Dec 2, 14 5:14 PM
Next time Cook says trust me on a project I guess we know the appropriate response. That place needing 98 parking spot is hilarious.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Dec 2, 14 7:15 PM

wait until it goes out of business-you think it is an eyesore now ?
By wmdwjr (76), east hampton on Dec 2, 14 10:54 PM
I don't understand how a reputable architect can think this placement near the road looks attractive. And 98 parking spaces??? One can only hope they fail quickly and a RiteAid or CVS moves in. If you are going to have a big ugly building at least make it useful.
By wainscotter (18), wainscott on Dec 3, 14 1:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Most of the time it is not the architect or developer but the Town demanding the location of the building. The Town Planners are so scared to admit that the developers would do a better job than they are capable of doing.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Dec 3, 14 1:19 PM
Brace yourselves for seeing what the "Home Goods" sign(s) will look like.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Dec 3, 14 2:16 PM
You are so right. The sign will be the cherry on the sundae.... Ugh!!!
By Beemer (1), Easthampton on Dec 5, 14 12:35 AM
Special thanks to Bob Shaffer who as usual spent more time and effort advocating for the developers than protecting the interests of Wainscott.
By Colt (37), Wainscott on Dec 3, 14 3:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
dumb ?-didn't supervisor cantwell have any control or say over the planners-is the planning board independent from the supervisor's office-why bother having an election if he is not a factor in town development ?
By wmdwjr (76), east hampton on Dec 3, 14 10:43 PM
Did anyone consider whether or not there was even a NEED for a traditionally "big box" chain store such as "HomeGoods" to move into Wainscott when we already have the much smaller and aesthetically pleasing Rumrunner Home and Serena and Lily boutique stores? Will we lose those shops only to see the behemoth temporarily take over and then tank?
By ValGal03 (58), Montauk on Dec 4, 14 6:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
Gotta love the free market
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Dec 4, 14 6:54 PM
Has any one been to eh village? Is there a mom and pop store left?
By jack1979 (15), east hampton on Dec 5, 14 2:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
Why the big beef all of a sudden? This project has been going on for months now. Maybe if someone made this point while they were digging the foundation something could have been done. Between this and the CVS project in BH the traffic flow should be much improved (lol).
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Dec 6, 14 6:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
Take this into account in regards to the proposed condos at the old Tiderunners location...
By Soundview (89), Hampton bays on Dec 10, 14 11:39 AM