The Westhampton Beach Village trustees will not discuss updating the municipality’s master plan until the next budget review process, which begins in January, delaying for several more months any movement on a developer’s request that the document be updated to permit the construction of a new supermarket.
Earlier this month, Village Planner Kyle Collins submitted a proposal that outlined the time frame and cost—about nine months and $40,000, respectively—of revisiting the master plan, a roughly 60-page document that dictates zoning regulations. The document was last updated in 2007.
The board requested the estimate following repeated requests from Westhampton developer Andrew Mendelson, who is insisting that it add the words “grocery store” to a portion of the zoning code relating to his land, which sits on the west side of Old Riverhead Road and south of the railroad tracks. Mr. Mendelson has been requesting that the board alter the code to allow for a new grocery store. Village Attorney Richard Haefeli has explained on multiple occasions that the board needs to update its master plan in order to amend the zoning code.
“It’s done until we do our next budget review,” Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller said during last week’s meeting, held on August 21.
Trustee Patricia DiBenedetto said on Friday that board members decided to hold off on discussions until they begin the budget review process because of the cost involved with a master plan update. She added that she is in favor of establishing a new five- and a 10-year vision of the village’s business districts, and possibly updating the master plan as part of that process.
“One person’s want can’t be the focus of an entire master plan,” she said, referring to Mr. Mendelson and his demands that the board alter the code. “However, since the master plan was drafted back in 2006, personally, I see that the dynamics have changed in this village.”
Frank Isler, the Riverhead attorney representing Mr. Mendelson, attended the meeting and asked that the board consider hiring an outside planner to determine whether amending the zoning code to permit the grocery store would be consistent with the recommendations of the master plan. Grocery stores are permitted only in the village’s downtown zoning districts off Sunset Avenue and Main Street, and not allowed in the B-3 business zoning and I-1 industrial districts, where Mr. Mendelson’s property falls.
Mr. Haefeli explained that the village planner has already determined that the grocery store use is not consistent with the B-3 and I-1 districts, which are designed to allow vehicle-friendly commercial businesses, such as wholesale stores, that residents would not be inclined to visit daily. Traffic considerations were part of that process as Old Riverhead Road is the main north-south artery that leads to the village.
“I’m asking them to hire somebody else,” Mr. Isler said in response to the attorney’s comment.
Village Trustee Charlie Palmer said he opposes delaying the discussions until next year, explaining that he had hoped Mr. Collins would have advised them by now if revisiting the master plan would be possible without committing to a full-scale and costly updating process.
“I just think it should have been addressed,” Mr. Palmer said.
Mr. Collins did not return calls seeking comment.
Also at last week’s work session, the trustees discussed the possibility of upgrading some or all of the surveillance cameras along Main Street, as well as those at the village marina and Rogers Beach.
The total cost for replacing all of the village’s roughly 15 cameras would be approximately $33,900, the trustees announced during the meeting.
Westhampton Beach Village Police Chief Ray Dean explained that the newer-model cameras would allow officers to see more clearly important details, like the face of a suspect or a license plate on a vehicle. The current cameras do not provide clear enough images for police to make out those details.
“I don’t want to say they’re useless, but it doesn’t give us a lot of information,” Chief Dean said.
He added that should the trustees decide to upgrade only some of the cameras due to the cost, he would prioritize those at the village marina. “From the police department’s perspective, it’s a worthwhile investment,” he said.
Chief Dean added that the cameras have been instrumental in assisting detectives in solving many crimes since they were first installed around 2006, including break-ins at the marina and various thefts.
The trustees said they would discuss the matter over the next few weeks, and expect to pass a resolution at their next meeting on Thursday, September 5, at 7 p.m.