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Tuckahoe Supermarket Plan Leaps a Hurdle

In a 4-1 vote, the Town Board permits Robert Morrow’s Southampton Venture to submit a formal change-of-zone application.

A majority of members of the Southampton Town Board elected Tuesday to allow a supermarket developer to submit an application to change the zone of 7.26 acres along County Road 39 — a plan that brought out both critics and supporters to Tuesday’s board meeting.

Developer Robert Morrow’s LLC, Southampton Venture, seeks to build a shopping center anchored by a King Kullen supermarket, but before he can go to the Planning Board with his proposal, the Town Board must first approve changing the area currently zoned for highway business and residential to the "shopping center business" zone. While Tuesday's vote still leaves Morrow with a ways to go before meeting final approval, he has cleared a hurdle that critics hoped would have stopped the plan in its tracks.

Morrow's proposal, , is a scaled-down version of his earlier application for a planning development district, Tuckahoe Main Street, which . The revised plan includes a 40,000-square-foot supermarket, a 15,000-square-foot retail building and a 3,500-square-foot bank.

Southampton-Shinnecock Hills-Tuckahoe Citizens Advisory Committee Chair Bonnie Goebert said the committee is to the change of zone, and had stern words for the Town Board: “We are here today to watch five elected officials ignore the public outcry,” she said. “The project counters everything we cherish on the East End.”

Ultimately, four board members voted in favor of the reviewing the application, while Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, D-Noyac, dissented.

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, I-Noyac, acknowledged that the application comes with controversy, but said that until there is a formal application, all aspects of the proposal cannot be studied and public input will not be part of the application’s record.

The Town Board met with Morrow's representatives in March during a "pre-submission work session," to learn about the plan and begin to consider whether to allow him to submit an application or to tell him is does not stand a chance and should go no further.

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Fleming said the proposal seems inconsistent with studies that supported limiting businesses with a high volume of traffic on County Road 39 and said the building is two-and-a-half times bigger than what studies propose as a limit on the size of highway businesses. She said she wants to wait to proceed until the that is underway is complete.

Southampton Condos board member Anthony Scotty decried the plan, telling the Town Board that the proposed supermarket entrance will be 250 feet from the Hubbard Lane entrance to his community.

“We believe that the quality of our lifestyle with be depreciated,” he told the board. “The traffic congestion that will be generated by the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week operation will provide a great deal of noise, air quality and all of the other issues.”

But area resident Jay Durante and other speakers at Tuesday's meeting favored the plan. “We have to drive to Southampton or Hampton Bays to go to the supermarket,” he said. “To get a value like you do in King Kullen, it means a drive. I feel that having a supermarket [in Tuckahoe] will better serve the community.” 

Durante said a new supermarket will not only cut down on travel time, but it also won’t change traffic flow because residents already take County Road 39 to get to a grocery store.

Southampton resident Richard Seacord agreed. “We need a modern supermarket,” he said. “I think the supermarket should be on the highway and is a necessity.”

Other supporters also cited the convenience of having a bigger supermarket closer to home.

Tuckahoe resident said that Southampton Venture has failed to identify a need for a supermarket. He said that while the developer says the supermarket will serve 48,000 people, the 2012 Census of North Sea, Tuckahoe and Shinnecock Hills showed a population of no more than 8,000. 

“There are already two King Kullen megamalls in seven miles,” he added.

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Southampton-Shinnecock Hills-Tuckahoe CAC member Susan Van Olst said she drove to each of the existing area supermarkets — in Hampton Bays, Southampton and Bridgehampton — and none took longer than 16 minutes to get to. “It is very easy to get to these supermarkets,” she said. “I don't see a need for another. There is a difference between need and want. What if we want a Petco or Best Buy?”

She pointed to a recent supermarket proposal in Westhampton Beach Village that did not get very far. “The mayor of Westhampton Beach doesn't jump — he was presented with a supermarket and he said no. He said, ‘It doesn't meet the zoning so we won't have it here.’”

Ralebird June 19, 2012 at 12:21 AM
First, this proposal is for a supermarket, a bank and a couple of other stores - none of this even slightly approaches the definition of a megamall except in the twisted lexicon of alarmists trying to spread propaganda. Second, without polling each and every person within fifty miles, there is no way to judge the degree of opposition. Certainly those opposed would be much more incentivized to attend meetings, write letters and characterize this proposal as a "monster of suburban excess."
Mary Beth June 19, 2012 at 12:33 AM
The bridgehampton mega-Kullen is 3200 square feet, this mega-monster is 40,000 with an additional 18,000 square feet of retail space. This proposal is the definition of mega. Trying to say it is easier to oppose and that is why you never hear from any supporters aside from the few friends that Morriw gathers for meetings is beyond laughable. You want mega- suburbia, move up island and take DS with you, please
Peconic Sunset June 19, 2012 at 02:49 PM
There is really nothing positive for our town in this proposal. Another brick and mortar bank when banking is increasing done on line, assorted retail space which doesn't seem to be lacking and another King Kullen, making three KK within a few miles. I find KK to be expensive, as are most grocery stores, due to the cost of food. I don't expect any supermarket to take a loss, so more of the same. Add to this the increase in traffic on R 39, this is not really going to help us much.
Ralebird June 20, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Wrong! The Bridgehampton King Kullen is much larger than you state, 32,000 square feet perhaps, but probably larger.
Dennis Schmidt January 24, 2013 at 05:52 PM
it's mind blowing to me that in this day and age of statistics and facts that all this effort is being made without a true demographic study to determine what's truly needed. Sh Village is also guilty of this in trying to help an old friend get a backdoor zoning change. How about at least a referrendum and let the residents decide our fate!! We will be shooting ourselves in the foot to continue developing when there is no appreciable (nor will there be) increase in population ! Upstate people travel 30-40 miles to get to a big shopping center or supermarket. Count your blessings!!!!

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