Bays Hamlet Study Closer To Completion

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The Southampton Town Board is expected to finalize a compilation of all public comments related to a long-awaited Hampton Bays hamlet study, along with the municipality’s responses to the feedback, at the end of the month.

The document in question, known as the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement, or FGEIS, will then be shared with the public. Approving the document is another step in the process of evaluating the land use recommendations and proposals made in a separate study that focuses on the impact of build-out in the hamlet, as well as the Hampton Bays Corridor Strategic Plan, related studies that date back to 2004 and are intended to serve as the guides regarding future development in the hamlet.

In 2008, the board contracted Cashin Associates, an engineering and development consulting firm in Hauppauge, to draft a comprehensive evaluation of both plans, as well as recommend ways to lessen the impact of development, in what is known as a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS). As part of that vetting process, the town collected public input through a 
slew of hearings held in 2011, as well as from written submissions.

Once the board approves the final draft, which will include the town’s responses to issues raised by the public, as well as any changes made based off those recommendations, community members will have 30 days to submit additional input that they would like incorporated into the GEIS.

The Town Board is now expected to adopt the final draft of the document on May 28. The last step in the process will be approving the final “findings statement” and completing the GEIS process so that the town can work on implementing some of the recommendations.

The Town Board had been expected to approve the final 
draft at its most recent meeting on April 23, but eventually tabled the resolution, citing 
the need for additional discussion.

The GEIS, a 450-page document, includes more than 100 recommendations, including evaluations of proposed changes to the town code and zoning, ways to calm traffic and ways to revitalize the hamlet center and attract tourists. It highlights possible solutions and alternatives on contentious issues, including the potential conversion of transient motels and cottages into permanent residences and the proposed Planned Development District near the Canoe Place Inn, and how lawmakers and town officials can mitigate development in what is one of the densest regions of the town.

“We’re all looking forward to some closure on this document, and have been for some time,” said Richard Casabianca, a Hampton Bays resident who served on the committee that made recommendations to consultants working on the study.

Though hamlet residents have grown frustrated with the time it has taken the town and consultants to complete the study, he pointed out that the process has resulted in action, even though residents are still awaiting its completion.

“The discussion around these things generated action faster than it generated the end of the document,” he said. “To that end, I feel that it was constructive.”

Mr. Casabianca pointed to the town’s spending of Community Preservation Fund 
money to purchase and preserve 19.5 acres in Hampton Bays that had been eyed for the construction of condos, as 
well as the scrapped proposal to demolish the Canoe Place Inn. He said another 8 acres once slated for development were also preserved in the same manner.

“One could argue that those might have occurred anyway, but there was something about them being discussed within the context of the GEIS that helped make them real, and for that I am gratified that I had some participation in it,” Mr. Casabianca said.

Michael Brusseau, who is listed on the draft document as the contact for Cashin Associates, declined to comment this week and referred all questions to Kyle Collins, the town’s planning and development administrator, who could not be immediately reached.

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