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Nov 11, 2014 1:47 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Two More Potential Stumbling Blocks For CVS Application In Westhampton Beach

Nov 12, 2014 9:13 AM

Plans to bring a CVS Pharmacy to Sunset Avenue in Westhampton Beach must first undergo an environmental quality review, and the developers behind the project will be required to pay for a market impact study before moving forward, according to the Village Board.

Despite objections made by their attorney, John Bennett of Southampton Village-based Bennett and Read, LLP, at last week’s Village Board meeting, Sunset West LLC and Tessera LLC—the two entities behind the development at the former bowling alley—will have to pay a third-party consulting group $14,850 to determine what effect CVS would likely have on the community.

Based on Mr. Bennett’s complaints, however, the village will be shelling out $17,525 of its own money to the environmental planning firm Nelson, Pope and Voorhis of Melville, to study the municipality’s special exception evaluation process. That decision was made on complaints, including those filed by Mr. Bennett, that questioned the objectivity of the village’s evaluation process.

Last week, Mr. Bennett argued that because CVS would be going into an existing building, it should not be required to undergo the time-consuming and pricey State Environmental Quality Review Act process, even though his clients are seeking a special exception from village zoning.

He also said a free market should allow the owners of the building to lease to whomever they choose and, therefore, the market study should not be required. Barth’s Pharmacy operates almost directly across the street, while a Rite Aid Pharmacy sits on the eastern end of Main Street in the village.

“This is the United States—if you’re the 11th guy who wants to open a widget shop on a street that already has 10 of them, that’s your right,” Mr. Bennett said. “And the courts have said you can’t deny a request for permission to open up a new space based on an alleged overabundance of use.

“The law’s pretty clear—you can’t do that,” he added.

Despite Mr. Bennett’s claims, Westhampton Beach Village Code states that any new business looking to occupy a space measuring between 3,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet must first complete a market and municipal impact study at the expense of the applicant. At roughly 10,000 square feet, according to village records, the space that CVS would occupy falls under that category.

The study will be conducted by Arlington, Virginia-based Community Land Use and Economics Group, or CLUE, and evaluate the following items: the potential impact that adding a CVS would have on the existing local retail market; the supply and demand for local retail space; wages and benefits; traffic ramifications; and impact on taxes and property values, among other factors.

Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore said both the environmental review and market impact study are required by law. The state review process, which will be led by the village and its head planner, Kyle Collins, will be reviewed by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, and also by both the village’s Planning Board and Architectural Review Board.

Ms. Moore said the Village Board made the decision to have its special exception review process studied based on complaints that it is not objective; specifically, she pointed to issues raised in recent weeks by Mr. Bennett and his clients.

“Because the issue’s been raised to the objectivity of the special exception criteria, we’re having Nelson, Pope and Voorhis look into it,” she said.

The village’s practice of requiring a market impact study will be compared to the special exception laws in five nearby municipalities, Trustee Ralph Urban said, noting that, as of earlier this week, the other municipalities have yet to be chosen.

Former Village Attorney Hermon “Bo” Bishop, who addressed the board during last week’s meeting, questioned why the board was agreeing to pay more than $17,000 to have one subsection of code studied when, a few years ago, it paid Mr. Collins about $30,000 to review the entire master plan for the village’s three business districts. Mr. Bishop said the move is particularly questionable when it is unclear to which municipalities the village will be compared.

Mr. Bishop said this activity appeared to be determining “land use by politics,” which he described as “the worst type of planning you can have.” He also questioned the Village Board’s transparency on the resolution to bring in Nelson, Pope and Voorhis.

“The resolution is not correct in my opinion,” he said. “On top of that, they didn’t even know the cost of the study; when I asked them they had to look it up.

“It’s a question of disclosure to the public,” Mr. Bishop continued. “They should disclose what they’re doing and what they’re going to do, and if they don’t know then why are they hiring someone to do it at this point?”

Mr. Bennett also is representing CVS in the chain’s effort to open a store on Main Street in Bridgehampton, an effort that has drawn the ire of many residents of that hamlet who feel the combined pharmacy and convenience store would not fit the character of the surrounding area and would cause an unacceptable increase in traffic. Last Friday CVS sued the Southampton Town Planning Board because of its decision to require an environmental study.

It is not clear if CVS intends to take the same action in Westhampton Beach as Mr. Bennett did not return multiple calls seeking comment this week.

Many residents of Westhampton Beach and the surrounding area oppose the plan to bring a CVS into the village, some fearing that it would drive out existing businesses, namely Barth’s Pharmacy and Rite Aid, while others simply feel that the former bowling alley space could be put to better use.

Westhampton resident Hank Beck, who serves as president of the Citizens Advisory Committee-West, said many members of his group do not view another pharmacy as a benefit to the community.

“We’d like to see something more than a chain store, something that would be a draw—better shopping, better restaurants, better something—but I don’t think CVS is the ideal tenant,” Mr. Beck said. “You’ve already got a large drugstore in the area in Rite Aid; suppose CVS is highly successful, then what happens to the Rite Aid? It goes out of business then you’ve got a large vacancy on Main Street.”

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Does West Hampton really need THREE drug stores I think not!
By greeneyedlady (55), East Quogue on Nov 12, 14 11:48 AM
This would be a great addition and much better than what presently exists.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Nov 12, 14 11:00 PM
Barth's should disappear (I would use stronger language but it would get flagged). It's continually cited as challenged by Rite Aid and a proposed CVS. Relaity Barth's does not serve anyone. I cite from USmerchant.com bath's hours "HOURS: Mon - Fri, 9am - 7pm; Sat, 9am - 5pm; Sun, 9am - 1pm". For any parent who has a child with a fever or swimmer's ear at 10 o'clock at night, these hours don't work! If you want to compete, be open! This is not solely a condemnation of Barth's but the whole ...more
By Hambone (514), New York on Nov 13, 14 9:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
Who in your area ***is*** open at 10:00 in the evening? When my wife and I were there several weeks weeks ago, the restaurants were't even open at that time, just the PAC (which was closing up behind us!)
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Nov 13, 14 11:23 AM
In the summer season they are, esp Rite Aid.

Barth's is not. Heck after a late Saturday on the beach you can't even re-stock on sunscreen on the way home.

Adapt or die
By Hambone (514), New York on Nov 14, 14 11:55 AM

I do not think Westhampton Beach needs another Drug Store. Two drug stores in our Village is enough.

I do think the Waldbaums, as the only supermarket in town, should be
allowed to expand their store.
By ileane (1), Westhampton Beach on Nov 13, 14 3:57 PM
"Mr. Beck said. “You’ve already got a large drugstore in the area in Rite Aid; suppose CVS is highly successful, then what happens to the Rite Aid?" "

So, my question is: If you have a Rite Aid AND a CVS, what happens to Barth's?
How could they compete?

Rite Aid has better member discounts and services, in my experience, than CVS.

Please don't let them put a CVS in the former Westhampton Bowl space. We don't need a CVS.
By kerra_holt (1), Westhampton on Nov 13, 14 7:35 PM
What constitutes a municipality from banning something because there are other stores of the like in the area? There's 3 ice cream shops within a stones throw of one another on Main St, there's more real estate offices than a person can count, countless delis, and clothing stores. Why is CVS any different?
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Nov 13, 14 10:37 PM

By Hambone (514), New York on Nov 14, 14 11:57 AM
Another onerous attempt to stop a CVS. amazing.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Nov 14, 14 3:36 PM
Small town politics is an interesting phenomenon. Progressive communities get it right and advance appropriate growth, competition and thus community benefits. Westhampton Beach usually gets it wrong but let's give our new Mayor a chance. There is a lot of undoing to be done.
By RANGER66 (15), WESTHAMPTON BEACH on Nov 16, 14 9:12 AM
Westhampton Beach is a dying town. Go there any night Nov-March and it's like a ghost town. Like a plague hit. It was not like that in the 80's. It cannot sustain another drug store. The Bowling Alley was great, what a shame it's gone.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Dec 30, 15 10:49 AM