The Southampton Village Board last week agreed to redraw the village boundaries to include approximately 9 acres currently under Southampton Town’s jurisdiction to accommodate a new 77-unit housing development to be called Beechwood Benedict.
The annexation proposal has been debated in both municipalities for several months and must be approved by both the town and village trustees for the new boundaries to go into effect. The Town Board has yet to vote on the proposed border change but is expected to do so on September 24.
According to the Carl Benincasa, the assistant town attorney, if the annexation is approved, the entire development, which is currently split by the village border, would be in the village, making permitting, oversight and maintenance of the development less complicated. Proponents also say it would make the area safer for future residents by clarifying which police and fire district they live in. Southampton Village emergency services would take control in the area.
The design of the project shows that 46 of the units are clustered on what is now the village portion of the lot, with 23 on the town portion. Eight units are bisected by the town-village boundary and lie in both municipalities. Conceding to the annexation by the village would cost the town about $28,000 in annual tax revenue once the project is completed.
“To me, this is a no-brainer,” Village Trustee Nancy McGann said during the September Village Board meeting.
Ms. McGann, Deputy Mayor Richard W. Yastrzemski, and Trustees William Hattrick and Michael Irving all voted in favor of the annexation. Village Mayor Mark Epley abstained because his father-in-law, George Benedict, is a principal partner of the development company.
Although Mr. Epley did not vote on the project, this week he said he is happy the village approved it. “It will help our tax base,” he said. “Not only in our village, but also in the Tuckahoe School District. It will improve property values throughout the area.”
According to Mr. Benincasa, the Town Board is scheduled to vote on the proposal next week. A simple board majority is all the proposal will need to pass.
Originally, Mr. Benincasa said, the board intended to vote earlier this month, but board members requested more information and time from the applicant, Beechwood Benedict Southampton LLC. The board must vote before the end of September.
“They got an extension because they still had some questions,” he said. “I really can’t speculate as to what they are going to do. They are certainly still considering various things, but I’m sure there will be a clear decision soon.”
This week, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the board will further discuss the proposal in executive session, but added that she still has some concerns about the proposal. One, she said, is that it could set a dangerous precedent for future applications. Ms. Throne-Holst said the resolution will have to be worded very carefully to limit similar requests in the future.
Second, she said, she is concerned about the loss of tax revenue, saying that with the current economic situation nationwide, every cent counts.
“I would like this to be as unanimous a vote as possible so the board is all on the same page,” she said. “We have to deliberate on it very soon.”